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The Battle of
Expedition log, Summer 2008
Tinganón, Bulnes, Suarias, high Sierra towards Turbina, etc.
Friday. Bill’s on the road to Stuttgart airport at 7:30; somewhat
too early as the journey turns out to be only 45 minutes and check-in
didn’t open until 10:00. Take-off at 11:30, arrival on-time at 13:30.
At Bilbao airport the Europcar rental office didn’t want to bring
forward the car rental time from 21:00 as had been agreed by phone
the previous day. However, after a polite discussion, they agreed
and gave a bigger car too – and without any extra charge.
Bill heads off to a show cave, Pozalagua », not far from Ramales. It contains the largest eccentric
stalactites imaginable – some 0.5m long and weighing half a kilo!
Mike arrives at Bilbao at 19:55 and we proceed to Hostal Vista Alegre
in Castro Urdiales and then into town for dinner. Chuletillas
and Lechazo Asado (roast lamb); washed down with Viña Izadi.
| Saturday. Lunch at Bar
El RoxinΔ, El Mazuco, but its popularity
meant that the only parking to be had was 500m away at the “paddocks”
between Pozo de Fresno and Bolugo. Criollo, chuletillas,
patatas alioli and the house tinto. After lunch we walked up
to the Ojo del Rio, and then drove to Tornería and walked to Rafa’s
cabin, and finally a drive to CaldueñínΔ
for a little caving (fairly low water).
Chuletillas at El Roxin
Back to Llanes via El Sucón. Dinner at La Marina – excellent
fish, as always, and the Albariño de la casa was spot-on.
Sunday. Real caving in Cueva de Tinganón! The
wooded path up from Llovio has been “modernized” by
a couple of stiles but otherwise is much the same (hard going and
muddy at times, with some slippery and steep parts and a scree crossing)
– about 40 minutes. The new GPS allowed an accurate fix all the
way up to, and just inside Δ, the entrance].
For an easy cave Tinganón presented some amusing challenges for
aging speleologists. Route finding was still intuitive and the size
as impressive as ever, but the pools and climbs were not quite as
straightforward as they seemed to be 35 years ago! Even so, we remembered
not to try and keep our feet dry. In fact we waded in the water,
sometimes thigh-deep. A good trip up to the top entrance, around
the loop (both branches with a stream), then back down the streamway
took an hour and 40 minutes; out at 13:11. LED lights all round
worked well (headlamps for general movement, more powerful hand-torches
as backup and for spotlighting).
Lunch at “El Miño”, Ribadesella. Fabada then escalopes,
| Monday. Fine but quite cool weather so a good walking
day. Up the Bulnes Funicular and then a walk west up
past Bulnes (El Castillo) to a small, very green, vega (Llanus
del Tornu) at about 850m. Lunch in Bulnes (La Villa). Pote
(a kind of fabada with reddish beans), cebollas rellenas,
patatas con Cabrales – followed by 100g of Cabrales! Stopped
by Rales on the way back and greeted Maria (Juanjo’s wife) and daughter
Llanus del Tornu, Bulnes
| Tuesday. Morning plan was (a) photos of Playa la Ballota
(achieved) and (b) visit the Bufones at Puerta. The road to the
latter, however, was being repaired, so we found ourselves sandwiched:
followed by a bulldozer with a ton or two of gravel and following
a grader that was flattening the road ahead very slowly. Eventually
reached a junction and got past the grader and made a circuitous
route to Vidiango – ‘interesting’ driving. Abandoning the Bufones
to another day, headed west to Ribadesella for a pleasant menú
in a nautical restaurant close to the ‘parking square’.
Playa la Ballota
After lunch headed for Cangas and then revisited the Demués loop,
although nothing was found other than the cave and hostal near the
end which we already knew about. Next to Malatería to follow the
‘Roman road’ valley going south and west from Mestas. Very pretty,
as noted in 1989, with a mill including a cider
press Δ, but limestone was seen only
near the mill and nothing speleological.
Dinner with excellent gambas al ajillo at the sidrería in the
Bill’s Birthday. Rain overnight and into the morning. First via
Unquera and Panes to search for Cueva Llonín. Directions
were good, with parking spot shortly after right bend just as described.
Path 20m further on Δ led over stream then
up banks and grass to an obvious cave Δ, which didn’t seem to go. Thinking we must not have the right
spot, we continued up the road to Llonín but found no other candidates.
Later decided that the entrance must be a bit of a thrutch, and resolved
to return another year with overalls, etc.
Next objective was Cueva el Arco, again with directions
from the OUCC 1976 report » and 1982, which placed it in the
NW of the two large depressions south of Suarias. Drove up past
Suarias as far as possible then decided the arch must be behind the
small peakΔ on the left (southeast) of
the north-westerly depression, so we first contoured around the peak
over sharp limestone then reached its top – no sign of an arch.
Descended the steep bramble-and-gorse slope to the depression floor
and continued on down.
Depression south of Suarias
It was now getting late (13:30) so we decide to split – Mike continued
on down the depression, past the small sink and then over the pass
at the northwest (behind the barn Δ).
Still no sign of any arch, although there is an interesting hole
in the cliff opposite the pass and at about the same altitude (approx:
Δ). We later decide this must be the
arch, perhaps only visible as such from close by, as there was no
other possibility seen.
Meanwhile Bill returned to the car and drove around the hill via
Suarias, meeting Mike after his descent N from the pass (track).
A late lunch in Panes and a stop in Purón, and later Boletus
mushrooms at the sidrería near the tower for Bill’s birthday dinner.
| Thursday. Forecast is good for today, followed by two
wet days, so this is the day for a high Sierra walk. After stocking
up with provisions, off to Tebrandi (where we started the Peña
Blanca walk in 2005 Δ).
Up the path to a wood, then skirted the field to the SE to rejoin
the main path to Braña de Asiego. From there on generally followed
cow paths past Braña Manzaneda in the direction of Pico Turbina
(La Torbina) until it seemed a good idea to turn back at a 1000m
mini-peak Δ – very difficult terrain
with huge depressions, but beautiful weather and stunning views.
A good walk, but not much speleological despite
Pico Turbina and Peña Llacia
Down to Arenas just in time for a late lunch of (canned?) lomo
which tasted like tuna. Back via Posada; dinner at the alley sidrería
for more lomo and gambas al ajillo.
Despite the forecast, another beautiful day. First objective Cueva
Peruyal, south of Benia Δ. Bill descends
100+m of passage to a 1m step and narrowing which needs caving gear
and deserves a re-visit, while Mike circuits the cave depression
to the south and west to a good view of Peña Santa and the Cangas
valley. The weather is so clear we decide to drive up to the lakes,
for a lunch of merluza a la romana and local cheese. On the
way down we spot new roads from Mirador de la Reina and later start
to explore these from below near Llano de Con and Gamonedo de Onís.
Back to hotel to write up the log, etc. Dinner at Cabañón (criollo,
lomo al ajillo, lacón con patatas).
Saturday. The rain arrived; good timing, really, as the day was
to be spent travelling back east. Usual restaurante at Ruente
was not cooking, so instead we ate quite well (but more expensively)
a few km NE, at Cos. Bill happily devoured a large plate of lamb
mellojas (sweetbreads). On through the rain to Castro; good
Bocates (fresh anchovies) and merluza for dinner at the ‘last
restaurant under the arches’.
Sunday – so the roads were almost empty for an easy 35-minute drive
to BIO for Mike’s 10:20 flight.
Personnel: Bill Collis & Mike Cowlishaw.
Exchange rate: 1.26; 79.2p = 1 Euro = 166 pesetas (209 pts/GBP).
Weather: Dry and pleasant, except one overnight rain.
GPS (Garmin Geko 201/eTrex Vista HCx) positions in °,′,″
using European 1950 datum (matching maps in Spanish blue series and
TOPO Penínsular Norte).
Several walks were recorded as GPS tracks; the .gpx files
are linked above and can also be found on the Speleogroup tracks page.
This log was mostly edited in the field on an ASUS Eee PC 900, using
the MemoWiki » extended
Wiki notation which is then processed by a Rexx » script to generate the HTML for this web page.