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Expedition log, Summer 1988

A transcription of the Speleogroup logbook.
via France; Cabañuca, La Boriza, Rioja

Click on, or tap, any image thumbnail for a full-size version.

Chateau Villandry, near Tours

Chateau Villandry, near Tours

After a leisurely 4-day drive down through France, lunch at good new restaurant near Zarautz, arrive Llanes and pitch tents at Bárcenas campsite; dinner at El Retiro.
Bill & Elsa at Forcau entrance

Bill & Elsa at Forcau entrance

Up to the Lakes, met OUCC », then walked to Forcau after pan y queso y vino. One hour up, one hour wandering in the mist, 45 minutes down. Back to Llanes for dinner (Rte. Covadonga).
12.08 Cabañuca cave to first drop; lentils in Panes; dinner at El Hornu – Viña Soledad.
13.08 A very wet trip in La Boriza, stopped by climb to pitch. Snack at El Retiro – and back later for evening meal.
14.08 Festering day: reading books then La Roxia for lunch, then to a new restaurant, El Puerto, for supper (Marques de Murrieta ’83 was excellent).
15.08 Into the mountains.  La Hermida for lunch, and then back to Cabañuca; rope down pitch then spiral climb to duck (dry!). Through nice streamway, tubes, etc., beyond to fetid sump at the bottom.  Slight draught but little hope of a bypass. lamb El Retiro (wonderful lamb) for dinner.
16.08 Ribadesella for an excellent lunch at Hotel Covadonga (paella, chops, wine).  Then to a pothole above Tito Bustillo (the latter was closed due to flooding), then back East to La Borbolla (big chamber entrance 30m mossy climb above three Molinos). Next to major valley west [sic] very promising, with probable resurgence, saddles, etc., but heavy rain discouraged exploration. Back to campsite, then to El Puerto restaurant.  Sadly they had run out of Murrieta...
17.08 Up at 9, packed gear and tents and headed east to Comillas (saw El Capricho de Comillas », a house designed by Gaudí) then on eventually to Ramales.  Lunch at Rte. Vitoria (menú 350pts) came to 1600pts (£8) for 3, including an extra, good Manchego cheese as ever. On to Haro (Rioja), passing through impressive limestone gorge with the Ebro, near Trespadron.  Arrive Haro: little cash so an average meal at Con Cordia (no restaurants took plastic!).  Hotel Iturrimurri not very friendly.
18.08 Up at 10ish; off in search of Explore the other kind of caves: Bodegas.  CVNE, etc., closed for summer holidays <sigh>.  So to Bodegas Muga » and Bilbainas » (1.5 hours with Viña Pomal and saw Cava disgorging at the latter). Excellent lunch in Haro (restaurant: Beethoven; Viña Zaco, Cordero Asado were superb, as were jamón, salmon, paella).

Then North in search of limestone.  The San Zordonil area seemed promising cretaceous limestone on the geological map, but little of speleological interest was found – just one (probably solution) hole high in the cliffs. Even so, we walked up the path (with bees) to check.

Finally on to Castro Urdiales, hotel Rocas, and Rte. Purón for champers dinner.

19.08 45 minute drive to Bilbao a/p.

Personnel: Bill & Elsa Collis, & Mike Cowlishaw.

Other log details:

  • Exchange rate about 200 pesetas/GBP.

  • “... log copied from looseleaf notebook, 4 Dec 1989.”

  • French days were: 07.08 to Bernay; Tours, Chinon (Château Danzay hotel); 08.08 wine tasting, La Chapelle for lunch, Nuclear reactor, Château Langais; 09.08 Château Villandry (“gardens!”); back to Tours for “‘one last’ tank game”, stayed near Bordeaux; then to Spain.

Expeditions to the Picos de Europa and elsewhere since 1973.
Please e-mail Mike Cowlishaw ( or Bill Collis (
if you have any corrections, suggestions, etc.   See also the SpeleoTrove speleology section ».
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This page was last edited on 2020-07-01 by mfc.