West along coast road; hikes at Cabo Vidio and around the lighthouse
at Cabo Busto, then a slow lunch in Luarca (interesting little fishing
town, similar to Llanes except no limestone). Back using A8 as far
as possible; amazing viaducts across deep valleys. Then to San Esteban
at the mouth of the Nalón and a walk out to the end of the huge
and long breakwater.
Inland loop; across the Nalón then south to Gardo to look for maps.
Then AS15 towards Cangas del Narcea alongside long thin lakes before
heading north to Tíneo for lunch. Back towards Pravia via La Espina
– limestone spotted below a windfarm, but huge roadworks made it
impractical to approach. North of Pravia and just north of Los Cabos
there is a very nice 360° viewpoint of the coastal plateau and
the Nalón. Circumnavigated the Cudillero harbour walls (except
the wet bit).
East to Colunga and a hike from G/Huerres along the cliffs to La
Isla for lunch, and hike back afterwards (hot, 27°C).
Next to La Cuevona to drive through the cave, then on to Llanes.
The main bridge closed for works, and amazingly the harbour is dammed
almost at the far (sea) end and completely drained. Dinner at the
sidrería by the tower (El Almacén) with half an eye on the Spain
vs. Germany World Cup semi-final, which Spain won.
Local tour; Playa Ballota, Playa Andrín, Bufones de Puertas (this
time, instead of local road-making that held up progress it was blasting
for the new motorway); lunch at Casa Poli; real caving in Cueva Bolado near Llanes. Thunder and heavy rain in the evening, so dinner
at La Terraza, just across from hotel.
A cultural day. First to the Ethnographic Museum at Porrúa –
unchanged since visit just after it opened in 2000.
Then to the Bufones de Pría, many and varied noises dues to stormy
seas (see also 12.07). Good lunch at Mesón Miño in Ribadesella.
Finally to the Archivo de los Indianos (emigrants) museum in
Columbres. Bill arrives during the evening.
With Bill’s arrival, Speleogroup switches to Expedition Mode. Cloud
is low over the Sierra de Cuera, but webcams indicate the weather
is better inland, so we head to Arenas. First a stop at the cheese
museum, but we decide to give it a miss due to the time required
and the off-putting aroma. High mountains peeking through the clouds,
so onwards to Tresviso, in beautiful sunny conditions, with the
objective being the elusive Cueva del Agua (source of the Urdón).
Armed with a hand-drawn map by the barman at Tresviso, we couldn’t
Down concrete track at edge of village – check. Left down steep
grassy path to cross track – check. Down even steeper cliff path
– check. Turn left at a casa – check. Pass between two casas
– um, all the houses are solitary. After an hour, and 400m below
our starting point, it is clear that we are too low and too far east
(and still a long way above the river). Nothing for it but to slog
back up the hill, first through the humid horsefly-infested woods
then up the cliff in midday sun. Two hours ascent, in all. On reflection,
the only alternative path would have been to turn right at the first
casa, not left as directed.
View from Tresviso restaurant
Despite not having achieved the objective, a cold beer followed by
lunch at the Bar (lomo, chuletillas de cabrito, etc.) went
down extremely well. On the way back we stopped at Tielve – a possible
hike start for later – where a mini-fiesta was in progress, complete
with bagpipes. Squid with very black ink over rice for supper at
A latish start, and a gentler walk seemed appropriate, so off to
visit the Nacimiento de Río PurónΔ,
where an impressive resurgence has been dammed to feed a fish farm
(gpx). 14 minutes walk from where we parked,
so about 25 minutes from La Verde Purón.
Andy Brooks’ description from a few weeks ago
proves accurate. The cave above the resurgence does look promising,
although with very loose boulders.
Lunch and walks at El Mazuco. In the evening a walk to Playa Toró
and then, it being World Cup Final night (Spain vs. Netherlands),
to El Almacén for dinner. The match goes to extra time, which
we watch at El Taller, followed by celebrations in the town as Spain
score the only goal of the match with just minutes to spare.
First to the Alto de Llamigo, a few km south of Nueva, to look
for possible sinks for the known resurgence to the north (explored
and surveyed by Speleogroup in 1975). Sundry watercourses
and sinks Δ found along the base of
the cliff to the north of the road, but none enterable. On to Ribadesella
for another good menú del día at Mesón Miño.
Then to the Bufones de Pría, for a longer walk than 09.07 to
the Pozo de las GrallasΔ and another
inland lake connected to the sea through sea caves; the sides of
the lakes are about 40m high, vertical or even overhanging, so do
not invite close inspection. Back to Llanes after a stop at the
Playa de Guadamía.
Tuesday; 9:00 am breakfast on an overcast day. A good day for
walking and caving so off east to Cofría but continuous drizzle
called for a postponement. So we proceeded towards Venta de Fresnedo
via Celis and got distracted by road signs for Cueva Chufín. We
never found it but it turned out later that it was at Río Nansa
level and locked as it contains minor prehistoric art.
Cueva de los Marranos
By this time it had stopped raining and we searched for the expected
big resurgence of the Latarma river into the Lamason in order to
measure the GPS location. We had found it in 1986! Instead we found
another river level cave Δ, Cueva de los Marranos»
but just inside the entrance the main way on, on the left, was blocked
by a locked iron gate. Mike scrambled off on the right and claimed
to be out of sight of daylight. We had a further unsuccessful search
for the resurgence and concluded it must be at the base of a wood
closest to the Toyu upper entrances (but at Rio Lamason altitude).
Mirador de Santa Catalina
There was no bar at LaFuente, nor at Burio, and at Cicera it was
closed! So we drove on, and up to the Mirador de Santa Catalina» for some photos of the Deva Gorge, and
then down to La Hermida for some lunch at “Paquin”: € 11 each
for paella, escalope, pork chop. An à la carte snack dinner
at “Amistad” bar, criollo, etc.
Wednesday; overcast again so we reverted to our priority plan of
exploring Cueva Cofría. Decked in our speleological equipment
we met the local resident of the nearby house (whose field we were
crossing) who didn’t even know a cave existed let alone its name!
After 15 minutes walk we reached the entrance after scrambling over
the streamway and sand banks several times.
Bill descending in Cueva Cofría
Inside the cave the 4m ramp on the left looked less inviting as it
no longer communicated to a lower entrance – presumably filled by
flood debris – so we stayed in the high level rift passage. We
could hear water. Mike rigged the 4m pitch for abseil with a doubled
rope but we decided that it would be safer and more flexible to use
the full length (single) in case the rift continued downwards. It
did not, but the extra rope was useful as a handline on the next
short climb. From here the rift got uncomfortably narrow and the
rift floor was unreassuringly blocked by rather loose boulders.
Progress appeared to be narrow, vertical and possibly wet – the
loose boulders splashed into a pool but the streamway could only
be heard, not seen. A retreat was called as we had no further tackle
(except Bill’s “washing line”). There was no trouble ascending the
rope by a mixture of prusiking and free climbing.
Mike in Cueva Cofría
Total time underground 80 minutes. Estimated passage length about
70m only. Mike finds he has lost his 3W LED torch and searches the
cave as far as the climb, but no sign of the torch.
Lunch at the lower Camijanes restaurant, nearby, after a good wash
at the outside tap. Excellent lomo de cerdo and chips, followed
by so-called Manchego cheese; € 26.
After lunch we made an attempt to find an alternative to the steep
route from the Mirador Cofría to the Nansa river level resurgence
found in 2009. Following the cul-de-sac indicating Trascudia, we
drove through the hamlet of Trascudia and then took the fishing track
indicating Los Angeles which ended very close to an abandoned Puente
colgante (hanging bridge). 12 minutes easy walk north reaches
the obvious cave entrance (gpx).
At this time we were no longer wearing our caving gear, and Mike
was without his “good” light so we proceeded only as far as the 2m
climb. This will require some chimneying which we avoided in order
to keep clean. However the passage clearly continues.
Back to Llanes for a rest then Ribadesella (el Escondite, then Restaurante
Covadonga for sopa/arroz negro and very good lubina (sea
bass) a la plancha).
A beautiful day, so a medium-high-Picos walk/exploration is the plan.
After a brief stop in Tielve we turned off the road (CA-1, even though
in Asturias) just below Sotres, then off the Áliva track at Invernales
de Texu. A good track then goes over Colláu Cuaceya, through a
gate, and on to Huente del Monte (1,110m), where a surprising number
of cars were parked.
From there we walked up a grassy slope to Colláu Pandébano (1,212m)
for pictures and a video of cattle, mountains, and snow. The path invited us on, and we soon passed
above Refugio de la Terenosa and later were able to see a magnificent
view, with El Castillo (Bulnes) 600m below us to the west. Eventually
turned back after 300m of ascent; a good
walk, even though no speleological features.
Lunch in Arenas at the ‘triangle restaurant’ [Restaurante Café
Cares], with excellent chuletillas. Back in Llanes amazed to
see the harbour is now full again – but the dam is still intact.
Above-average dinner at the ‘u-shaped’ restaurant in Llanes (Casa
Canene) where history was made: Bill (being of sound mind and not
ill in any way) ordered the menú (reproduced here) and did not have a starter!
The rain arrived at 10:00; tried to escape it by driving south, but
it followed relentlessly. Dry roads ahead, but whenever we stopped
(Mestas de Con, Cangas) the rain caught up. Finally, under low cloud
but dry, stopped for a pleasant lunch at Oseja de Sajambre. Slow
return, stopping for walks and photos at Soto de Sajambre, Amieva,
Overcast but no rain, so a good day to search for Cueva El Arco.
Up to the col
from Suarias via an easy cow path, then down through bracken and
woods to the barn at the bottom of the slope (gpx).
Across the depression we climbed up through the woods rather than
fight the bracken. After a long steep climb (almost due South) we
reached the base of the small cliff seen below the arch – and found
a cave! Δ
This first cave looked like a goat pen, so we dubbed it Goat Cave;
it turned out to be a walking through trip to the left, with an impressive
chamber/aven in the middle, 20m or more high. A dozen metres further
on was another cave Δ, watched over by
a pair of evil-looking crows (hence Crow Cave). This had a wide
entrance, 4m high, with a flat (possibly false) floor leading to
a sudden drop or pitch, perhaps 4m deep. With no tackle it was not
descended (and no obvious belay point was noticed), but the passage
appeared to continue around a corner.
We continued climbing up through very steep mixed grass, bracken,
and brush to the left, and after a while saw a dark entrance above
and to the right. This proved to be the arch that we were looking
for, containing pens made from rocks. After photos and GPS Δ
we continued through the arch and found the cave 10m or so beyond,
on the left Δ.
A wriggle/thrutch down through sharp boulders in a southerly direction
leads to a slope which quickly opens up to the expected huge chamber.
A small side passage on the right leads to small grottos, and a larger
drop further on is the choked lower level described in the 1976 and
Stals in Cueva El Arco
A ledge on the left leads to the rest of the chamber, which curves
around the left to end in a flowstone slope. Crystals and rimstone
all around, although not as spectacular as expected. Very few footprints;
perhaps 8 or 20 people, all of which can be accounted for by known
After many photos we exited the cave and found a cow path leading
down to the west. With some scrambling, this took us down a much
better route to the col at the end of the depression and then a contouring
cow path to the first col – hence avoiding the descent to the bottom
of the depression (gpx).
Times, from GPS marks and tracks:
leave car on Suarias track
ascent time: 01:52
bottom of depression
descend Cueva El Arco
in cave: 00:41
exit Cueva El Arco
arrive at car
Lunch at 15:30 at Casa Gloria in Camijanes was tasty lechazo
for two; the expedition lunch. In the evening Bill visits old friends
at the Rales Fiesta while Mike finds some excellent lubina a la
plancha (and Albina Reserva 2001) at Rte. Salero. With the late
lunch, Bill intended to skip supper, but Juanjo insisted he say hello
to his brother who was sitting at a large table with a dozen guests
in front of his house. Nieves immediately put a plate in front of
Bill although he was not at all hungry (but the guests had already
eaten and there were lots left over...). Other friends included
Ely, Josť Antonio, Niqui, Ian, Paula, Carlos. Fireworks. Back to
Llanes at 01:30.
With plenty of time to get to Santander airport for the 17:20 flight,
we circled south and east of the airport to visit the Parque Natural
de Peña Cabarga where Bill had spotted limestone on the landing
approach 9 days before. Limestone was indeed seen, as were elephants,
impala, and water buffalo. A short walk was followed by lunch at
Rte. Los Elephantes – efficient but average and poor value (€14,
as were the menús at all four restaurants at the entrance to
the park). Arrived at the airport in plenty of time to stand in
queues for an hour or so and be amazed at the chaotic boarding ‘process’.
Uneventful flight to Stansted and a 2-hour drive for Mike; an accident
of the A11 dual carriageway blocked Bill for 90 minutes, and he didn’t
get home til midnight.