Site list (GPS fixes)
Walks (GPS tracks)
Making SMT boards
Spain 1973, 1974,
1975, 1976, 1977,
1979, 1982, 1983,
1985, 1986, 1987,
1988, 1989, 2000,
2001, 2002, 2003,
2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009,
2010, 2011, 2012,
2013, 2014, 2015,
2016, 2017, 2018,
2019, 2020, 2021,
The Battle of
Expedition log, Summer 1989
A summary and index of the Speleogroup logbook.
Llanes area, Mestas, Socueva, La Borbolla, etc.
Speleogroup’s 20th Anniversary
30.06|| (Friday) Mike, 24 hours after return from
Seattle, finds himself on a BA flight to Bilbao (an hour earlier
than the usual “Iberia” flight). Met by Bill and Elsa at about 16:15,
then onwards in traffic jams (hmmm... maybe Friday not such a good
idea) to Llanes (with sustenance stops at Ôtanes and Santillana).
Arrive Barcenas campsite 9:45. 10:15 to Covadonga restaurant, where
chuletillas mysteriously become escallope... The Marques
de Riscal was good! Town and campsite very quiet.
Bill arranges campsite fee reduction (1350 ptas per day). Diesel
fuel costs 55 ptas/litre – going up tomorrow to 59 ptas. Sun &
01.07|| Up at 8:30, Elsa has a shower while Bill
& Mike take coffee on the bar terrace. After more coffee with Elsa,
we drive to Lubiesco track. Walk starts at 10:00 up the valley we
explored briefly in 1988. Up the track there
is an ‘abandoned’ limestone mountainette [sic]. This did
contain a nicely draughting cave-passage (old?) leading off into
the hill. Passage big. but entrance blocked by a rock. 7″
squeeze will require dedication to pass. We looked at several possible
stream-level resurgences but the only promising one was under lock
& key! We did find the source of Río Dovedad [Ed: Doredal? W.
of Borbolla] – multiple (many!) small resurgences.
At 12:30, Elsa returns to car and Bill and Mike march up the hill
south of path to junction and shepherd in ruin. We are informed
of torcas and a cueva in the westward-leading valley (as
opposed to the eastward valley leading to La Borbolla). So admiring
(but not descending) the magnificent depression to the south we proceeded
up and west.
Up we climbed on a fairly good path past many smaller depressions
and saddles. Unfortunately there was no stream and no obviously
visible cave entrances. (However we never descended any of
the depressions.) The agreement was to return to Elsa after two
hours. We reached 550m to the highest (but not last) saddle at 13:30.
On the way back we mistakenly took a higher path past a couple of
torcas (not descended) and correcting ourselves we rediscovered an
old mine passage full of cow shit and mud. Drizzle was partially
welcome to cool off.
We returned to the junction at 14:20 and it was agreed that Mike
should walk to La Borbolla bar and Bill should return to Elsa and
car then drive round. Bill found Elsa at 14:40
and the eastern bar was reached at 15:05. Cheese and beer were ordered
and Mike duly turned up at 15:20. The track down to La B. was imaginative
(the map-maker’s imagination) but after 30 minutes jungle-bashing
a reasonable cowpath was reached. A small sink didn’t go, but soon
a larger depression with dry (it was a drought) waterfall with hanging
valleys above is worth a return visit. Could be hard to find from
Back to the campsite to write up log. To El Retiro for chiperones,
Campo Viejo (×2), cheese, chorizo, etc., then back into
town (via fiesta in Pancar for fireworks and marksmanship by M (globes!))
to El Taleru, etc. Town seemed to be full of Valencian students.
02.07|| A slow start. Acuario for tortilla,
then a look a look at Cueva Geoffo (Cosagra), then lunch at Ortiguero.
Weak fabada but excellent chips. Back down-valley towards Rales
– curiosity leads us left up to Malatería village and onwards
to Sucueva – accessible by a very new road. Didn’t linger there
even though hamlet overlooked by caves – locals said they didn’t
go. Elsa tried raw walnut: reaction sufficient to stop Bill & Mike
from repeating the experience.
Back towards Malatería – but first up a side-valley (S [at
Mestas?] and then W) which was idyllic. Find a cave resurgence
with a strongly draughting entrance which leads to a cross-rift rather
small, with water, but promising. M grovels in the cave. To the
bar at Malatería – here told of a large cave nearby used for shelter
during the War. Definitely worth a prospecting trip.
Back to campsite for a couple of hours sleep – and on to Bill’s
Birthday dinner at El Hornu. Green beans, peppers, avocado, anchovies;
merluza con quisquillas, merluza romano, chuletillas
– washed down with Viña Soledad. Back to campsite for an early
03.07|| Up at 9:30 on a fine sunny day, the night’s
sleep having been disturbed by fiesta music until 3 a.m... Tortilla
in Acuario, film purchase, then on to Cueva Cosagra. Mike & Bill
enter with rope and descend the the pitch/ramp explored the previous
day. A rift passage leads to water, wading under an arch to noisy
streamway. The rift continues to final sump via a pair of deep pools.
Bill slipped into the first pool and was out of his depth! The final
sump looks infinitely promising, blue clear water under an arch,
but the presence of divers’ handline suggests it has already been
dived with bottles. Washed in river after finding pitch bypass via
stream course to resurgence entrance.
Lunch @ 14:00 in El Viveru overlooking the sea. Patatas bravas
(again) and Bonito a la plancha. Next off to find the fabled
“resurgence near Bar La Roxia” (OUCC Trans CRG April 71: “At the
nearby village of La Pereda, near the Bar La Roxia, is another resurgence
cave, carrying a small stream which is used locally as a water source.
This was entered by the 1969 expedition, but has not been explored.”)
Follow the dry streamway up the hill – it becomes wet with a small
stream – but eventually in the heat and humidity we retire to the
bar for a cerveza. Back to the campsite, then at 9 to the restaurant
opposite La Viveru – beans with clams for Mike (doing his bit for
the Greenhouse Effect – regretted later!) excellent fish soup for
Elsa, etc. La Viveru afterwards for sweet frothy coffees among lightning,
powercuts, and (later) rain.
04.07|| It’s Tuesday, so off to Tito Bustillo (free
on Tuesdays) – not a bad cave (though paintings a little disappointing).
Definitely worth the visit.
The exploring SW of Ribadesella for caves – end up driving through(!)
a cave on the way to Cuevas (3km SW of Riba. 📌). Back, via Riba., to Arriondas and San Remo Bar/Restaurant
for traditional menú: fabada (excellent), truchas con
jamon (average), flan (above average), coffee (good), and pan
y vino (average). 600pts (£3) each – far to much (to eat) for
Next stop the Lakes. OUCC just arrived really, nothing to report,
all bar one up the hill. Low cloud, cool, but not raining. Brisk
stroll about the lake, appreciating the view.
Back down (via craft shop) and along the Cangas↔Mestas de Con road
towards Rales and Posada. Up the track (now a road) through Bobiás
and Demués (stopping at Cueva del Agua on the way) and finally
back down to Con and the “main” road. No other speleo interest.
Back to campsite for a light pollo al ajillo, etc. at
El Retiro, before retiring.
05.07|| Up late as usual and had our tortillas
(also available in chorizo flavour) at around 11:00. Then changed
cheques in bank before arriving at Malatería to look for caves.
We chatted to the same old man for a minute then a chap called Angel
said he knew of a bigger cave near Mestas and agreed to accompany
us there. The cave, Cañada, is about 300m above the Socueva junction
through intense undergrowth. Elsa (accompanied by Mike) turned back
after 35 minutes (13:00) leaving Bill and Angel to thrash their way
through the brambles, arriving, at 13:30, at the entrance in the
outcrop cliff face (grid ref: 4966 9765 📌?).
The entrance itself is in a rock shelter 10m wide and a nice easy
walking horizontal passage with dry rimstone pools meanders into
the mountainside (apparently a fossil resurgence, no draught). About
40m in is a chamber 5m×5m with an aven going up 10+m. From here
the passage proceeds on a smaller scale 1–2m wide with some stal
but not very pretty. After a couple of minor pools the main passage
terminates (completely stalled over), but a scramble up on the left
continues parallel through ever smaller passages. Total length estimated
to be 140m. Worth the walk. Exited cave at 13:30(?) and proceeded
straight down through undergrowth to Mestas road, arriving at car
at 13:55. Picked up Elsa and Mike who had only just arrived! Dropped
Angel at Malatería and on to Meré for lunch of beer, wine, bread,
Driving along the Mestas to Riensena road we saw a possible resurgence
on the other side of the valley at grid ref ~4946 9777 📌 near Socueva. To be investigated later
[the next day]. Then we drove on tarmaced road to Priedramo
and walked down to cliff face at bottom of depression – a classic
sandstone/limestone boundary sink. The sink obviously takes water
but there is no cave. Could well be a feeder of above-noted resurgence.
Drove back via Llamigo to campsite and well-needed shower. Mike
wins 1000pts on campsite slot machine. Log writing. Paella
at Restaurante Covadonga then cards at El Brao bar before retiring.
06.07|| Bill’s boots, having collapsed during the
tramp down the hillside yesterday, required replacement, and running
shoes, discounted to 100 ptas, fitted the Bill. We also bought bread
and bonito pastry. We stopped at Acuario for chorizo tortilla, then
at the Meré bar to buy cheese (750g @ 1200 ptas per kilo). It
took two people behind the bar 5 minutes and two calculators to work
out the total.
Then we drove off to the possible resurgence seen yesterday, in the
cliff face (at river level) below Socueva. We managed to park 200m
away and an easy path led to the waterfall. Thence a steep trek
through the undergrowth gave access to the cliff and three interconnecting
entrances were found. The main continuation is through a narrow
meandering rift passage terminating after only 20m at a 7m pitch.
Prospects for continuation below the pitch through similar passage
look fair [See 8 July]. On exit it was raining and despite
of a circuit of the cliff face no further speleological features
were found. In particular, the big entrance in the cliff was not
accessible (except by rope from above).
Picnic lunch with Barbaresco in Cueva Geoffo. Return to campsite,
shower, potter about Llanes, bocartes [large whitebait, sprats,
anchovies, or sardines] in Sablon’s Club, and supper in Buelna
opposite El Horno. Thunder – lightning – rain – powercuts.
07.07|| Left Elsa heading for the beach. The remainder
of the expedition headed East (via Purón campsite bar for excellent
lomo/cheese pinchos and Buelna bar for beer in cans). To
La Borbolla; up the valley just west of village, then left (East)
up-valley to line of depressions. “Bottomed” those that looked promising,
but really only two successes: (a) the highest (possibly biggest)
depression had a strongly-draughting hole (too-small, but class-A
dig) with clean sink choked with tree-trunks, and (b) a fine plum
tree, on the edge of the same depression; its fruit was eaten with
relish! Followed the line of depressions to the end then North down-valley
(very steep, no real path) via strange tracks and paths at bottom
to road and back to La Barbolla, so completing a strenuous 4-hour
Cards in bars; then to El Jornu (Pancar) for gambas, bocartes,
merluza, salmonettes (Red Mullet), etc. Monopole to wash
it down. Back to Llanes to try and check train schedules – then
to El Taleru (Antonio of Rales/Posada at the helm). No telephones.
08.07|| Originally, that is during the appreciation
of the bottle of Monopole the previous night, we had thought to do
a real sporting cave today like Purón or Pozo del Infierno.
Feeling somewhat stiff after yesterday’s ramble and after taking
due account of Speleogroup’s duty to complete its exploration thoroughly
it was decided to return to Mestas and descend the pitch in cave
explored on 6th July. Acuario for Tortillas.
Bill descended the pitch using a descender (prudence) which actually
proved a handicap. The pitch itself is merely a drop from a high
level into continuing meandering vadose rift passage 0.5–1m wide
and 10m high. Ridges and ledges provide reasonable footholds but
being unfit and unused to caving, Bill managed to descend in 10 minutes plus.
Sweat was streaming down his glasses at the bottom. The rift continues
for a further 20m with the same dimension until an abrupt halt.
Above, there appears to be a passage possibly connecting to the big
cliff entrance but this remains inaccessible; Bill climbed up 3m
It took Bill only 5 minutes to ascend using a single Petzl hand jammer
as a useful handhold. Back to Elsa waiting in the car. Lunch in
Ortiguero (Sopa de Pescado and Trucha for Elsa, Sopa de
Cocido, Carnes con Patatas (lamb stew), and Trucha con jamon
for Mike and Bill).
We drove slowly back via (eventually) Colombres and Alles finding
very little of interest except an entrance (not investigated) on
the fisherman’s path just 200m before the Llonín fork. (See the
sketch map/page from the log for the full route.)
The road up to Puertas has a stream sinking on the right, apparently
impenetrable. Berodia/Inguanzo road mostly uninteresting.
Bought a new map in Arenas – the top plateau of Sierra de Cuera
looks increasingly interesting. But a big wall! 600m or more of
steep ascent, then 6–8km of possibly interesting country to cover.
Definitely not a day trip!
Rte. Covadonga in Llanes for expedition dinner (Stuffed peppers
(Elsa), Bonito (Bill), Lechazo (Mike)) with excellent Marques
de Murrietta 1983.
09.07|| 07:30 start(!) and leave campsite ahead
of schedule at 08:53. Gloriously empty roads – at Solares in 1
hr 15 mins. Arrive Castro Urdiales way too early for lunch, so sample
tapas in Rest. Purón, etc. Leave for airport – arrive in Delio
(just beyond airport, 4km) 1-ish. Hard to find anywhere to eat –
seems the Delionnaise don’t eat out on Sundays. Manage to persuade
a bar/rest. to serve us salad, lomo, etc. (not bad). 1700pts.
Elsa has a true veg. meal! At last!
Arrive airport 2.5 hours before flight. Bill and Elsa leave for
Personnel: Bill & Elsa Collis, & Mike Cowlishaw.
Other log details: Exchange rate 189 pesetas/GBP. Diesel
Lambert grid references in this log are suspect.