Site list (GPS fixes)
Walks (GPS tracks)
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,
Mexico, New England
The Battle of
Expedition log, Summer 2018
Los Tocinos, Cubilla, La Borbolla, Cueva del Toyu, Tinganón,
numerous drone flights.
Click on, or tap any
image thumbnail for a full-size version, or on a video clip to play
at a larger size.
||Uneventful flights to Bilbao. An hour to collect the car because it wasn’t ready, plus a leisurely lunch in Durango, meant we missed the chance to visit the Gesaltza showcave we’d planned – by a few minutes. Did view the valley above with the sink for the cave, and later the Balzola cave limestone on the way to Castro Urdiales. A lot of driving by Bill, but we arrived in Castro within a minute of the planned time. La Marinera for a light supper.
||Breakfast in the ‘green bar’ 150m down the road (Verivan). Omelette & ham in a bread roll for Mike and a delicious bonito tortilla for Bill.
Then off to Oriñón before our free parking expired at 10:00.
An overcast day. The map showed a stream originating at the foot
of the hillside and there was indeed a wet resurgence Δ and above, across the track, another entrance with dry
passage which was followed for 5m to a minor squeeze. Beyond the
squeeze the passage opened out into a large chamber but was not pursued.
Cave above Oriñón resurgence
Then drove west and south to Ampuero and towards Cueva Los Tocinos.
Surprised a dozen huge vultures feasting on a dead goat next to the
Above a mud-choked sink in Hoyo Mena Δ
(obvious on map) there was a small cave Δ
with a chamber 5m across. It was more than a rockshelter (with real
stal) but no ongoing passage.
Los Tocinos itself Δ was hard to
find, but is a large entrance steeply descending into a big passage
20m high and 30m wide. Into the muddy floor someone had cut mud
steps to aid descent but the mud was damp and slippery and we decided
not to risk sliding down. The muddy ramps and large chamber were
reminiscent of Pozo del Infierno. Good echo!
Bill in Los Tocinos
A satisfactory morning with 3 entrances found deserved a satisfactory
lunch which we eventually found at Restaurante Casanova, in Arredondo.
No menú del día but we were hungry. Only 1 portion of cabrito
was left which we correctly guessed would be huge so we shared it
with a bottle of Navarette Rioja (Crianza 2014). A very good lunch
for just EUR 30!
We then proceeded south until the Asón waterfall and then up and
along the unpaved track (off limits to vehicles) towards the presumed
sink. Stunning views of limestone peaks, green turf, and depressions
but no caves. Blissfully quiet with just the whisper of wind in
the grass and birdsong. Eventually a stream was found, sinking in
Rugged limestone up-valley from Asón waterfall
Drove back via Las Colladas and stopped for refreshment in Ramales
de la Victoria reaching Castro Urdiales at 19:30. Bocartes under
||Breakfast at the green bar, then off to Cueva de Cubilla. The old route down from the track was muddy and overgrown, so we decided to carry on and find a different track that we thought we had seen. After a while we found a plausible cow track down to the stream, and some slippery stepping stones over. The path on the other side ended at a cliff so we then climbed high above the stream and back down again to cross the raging torrent a second time, this time with a welcome, if unstable, overhanging tree branch to help.
Finally back on the good grassy path we remembered, we soon arrived
at the cave.
Our intent, however, was not so much caving as flying, and we used
the drone to take various panoramas and stills. Flying the drone
was more demanding than usual because only at +25m was a GPS signal
achieved, and the panoramas we wanted were lower and close to the
cave entrance, so manual skills and the aid of a spotter were essential.
Pictures ‘in the can’ (SD card), we wandered into the cave, Bill
going out of daylight. The cliff face above the cave was dripping
water after the wet weather making the entrance floor muddy, but
deeper inside it became hard mud – quite a pleasure to walk on –
and the ceiling was generally high. On the left the main passage
descended and we could hear the streamway re-emerging and on the
right the passage continued to the higher levels that OUCC had not
surveyed in 1966. Incidentally, the Cubilla system has now been
connected with Cueva de Llastrilla (Sangazo) where the stream re-emerges.
A real pleasure to revisit a “big” cave. Afterwards we found a good
new path which led directly to where we’d parked the car – a flat
area mostly filled by goats Δ; the
path starts next to/behind the signboard for the cave.
Bill walking into Cubilla
It now being just after noon, we had a couple of hours to kill before
lunch: a refreshment stop in Sámano, then west past Oriñón to
near Ermita de San Julián to view the sea and the limestone. Then
wandered around straggling villages to Rte. Ambigu in Hazas but didn’t
fancy it for lunch. Tried various villages as far south as El Puente,
but eventually returned to the Meson in Sámano (busy and very noisy)
for a passable lunch.
Playa San Julián
A walk along the Castro seafront in the afternoon. The hunt for
evening meal did not end well; the ‘best of the bunch’ had edible
paella, but neither of us could finish the tasteless escalope
de lomo despite being quite hungry.
After breakfast at the green bar we returned to pick up bags and
take leave of Maria José our unobtrusive Airbnb landlady (she subsequently
reviewed us online as “agreeable and polite”).
Verivan (‘green bar’) bonito tortilla
Travelling west we decided to search for the resurgence of the Cueva del Toyu system which we had not seen since 1986. The direct
approach of descending the damp meadow brought us to a very steep,
slippery and muddy bank – with no paths. So we drove over to the
other side of the river and walked along a track (plan B) but there
was no sign of the resurgence (it should have been very evident in
wet weather, but was hidden by trees).
Mike spied another route down from the Venta de Fresnedo bus stop
– plan C – but was thwarted by brambles, cow pats, and another
cliff face so still could not locate it. We located another possible
way down north of the Toyu track (plan D) and if that fails plan
E is to fly the drone along the river...
Toyu area (showing Plan C route)
Lunch at Casa Gloria in Camijanes, where all the staff welcomed us.
Cold grilled vegetables for Bill followed by abundant but tough beef
and chips. Cocido montañés and filete de ternera for
Mike. Back to Llanes via Posada and refreshment in the Corner Bar
as our favourite watering hole was closed for renovations. A light
dinner in ‘El Almacén’ in Llanes of boletus (fungi) con picón
for Bill, and a vast plate of costillas for Mike.
||‘Changeable’ weather was forecast, and indeed it was, starting with rain – so a quick dash across the road for coffee was in order, followed by the usual plan in time of wet: head south. In due course we were enjoying picón cheese in La Hermida. Next, the plan was to drive to the col (Collado de la Hoya) above Bejes to check out the limestone above the cliff-face caves we explored with the drone last year (see video clips).
This took much longer than expected, however, as a herd of cows lumbered
onto the road just as we approached Bejes, heading up to the same
col. We stopped many times to take in the stunning view, take photos,
etc., and also got to admire at length (and at height) the 250+m
sheer drop from the unfenced road to the village.
Bejes from 250m above
Eventually reached the top; the track NE was very pretty (with views
across to Tresviso) but speleologically uninteresting.
Back down to La Hermida for a pleasant lunch of soups and lomo.
After lunch we headed north to Suarias to investigate the source
of the water that sinks in the big depression (Corvera) W of Cabañuca.
We were expecting some serious ‘jungle bashing’ in the heavily-wooded
valley, but instead chanced upon a clear track that contoured round
to a small waterworks blockhouse Δ
with 50m or more of rocks, gushing with water, beyond. We guess
that the origin of the water is Valmayor, 1.5km SSW and 260m higher.
Suarias (Corvera) waterworks
Back to a rainy Llanes for dinner, after the (mostly) dry day to
||A wet start with a cloudbase of under 150m, but with forecast of a
fine(r) afternoon, south via Posada to Mestas de Con. After checking
the menú (which turned out to be from the day before) at Casa
María, we filled in time before lunch with a thorough exploration
of the village. The ‘Gastrobar’ San Martin might be worth a visit
when (a) open and (b) the sun is shining.
After lunch the sun was starting to be seen through the clouds so
we drove up to El Mazuco and hiked around to above Boriza with the
drone. It was a bit gusty, but the drone handled it well and we
took three panos of the suspected cave, from various distances.
Nice panos, but not close enough to be conclusive (and the cave itself
was underexposed). The second flight was for a very high level pano
of an interesting cliff face – came out well. Both flights a hand-catch
‘landing’ and useful experience.
Boriza overhang, from ‘main’ road
Back to Llanes for a ‘light’ supper of tabla de quesos Asturianos.
A lovely sunny morning with an excellent view of the Sierra de Cuera.
Breakfast at cafetería ‘Bitacora’ then off east to the village
of La Borbolla to look for (and measure GPS coordinates of: Δ) the resurgence cave found and partially
explored by OUCC 45 years ago. The resurgence is known today as
the Nacimiento del Río Cabras and its flow is quite considerable.
Indeed, in times past, the water power was used to drive three mills.
OUCC also claimed to have found a high level entrance but we were
unable to locate this despite walking for some 100 minutes.
La Borbolla resurgence
(Nacimiento del Río Cabras)
We then drove to Colombres in search of lunch but the two open restaurants
did not inspire. So we continued east to Casa Gloria, Camijanes
for EUR 12 menus. Mike had excellent lubina (sea bass) a la
espalda (butterflied). After lunch we drove south to the Lamasón
valley to try yet another time to find the resurgence for the Toyu
cave system (that we had explored in 1982). A route down to the
river starting further north took us to river level fairly successfully
(plan D) but progress up-river became difficult at a rocky platform.
From there we launched the drone (plan E) on an 11 minute flight
following the river upstream. Alas, subsequent perusal of the photos
did not reveal any hint of the resurgence location! It is likely
hidden below trees. Plans F and G were hatched for a later visit.
Río Lamasón from above
||An overcast day, suitable for walking. We wanted to check out a route to possible resurgences of the Pozo de Vega el Forcau in the western massif of the Picos. In particular the electronic map suggested that there was a major obstacle, almost a cliff, on the southern side of the depression marked ‘La Meona’ 600m SW of Lago de la Ercina.
Reconnaissance showed the depression becomes a lake in wet weather
and in dryer weather its flat bottom is rather boggy. The lake is
filled by a stream or two. There were many cow tracks around the
depression but none appeared to go south. Nevertheless the direct
approach to the Río Resecu valley is probably feasible if a bit
steep. However, descending first into the La Meona depression is
not efficient because of the loss of height (below Lago Ercina).
But the scenery is beautiful.
Gentiana acaulis in La Meona depression
Lunch in Restaurante Orandi (below Covadonga) as it was getting late,
and back to Llanes via Posada.
After admiring the serried ranks (at least 16) of ancient English
Austin 7s of the Dorset Austin Seven Club in the hotel car park,
we headed west in a third search for Cueva Rosa (the first two being
in 1977 and 2002) 6km WSW of Ribadesella. After trying a couple
of tracks and some field-bashing, we admitted defeat and headed for
El Carmen, where Mike had spotted a cave marked on the map. Much
more success this time; Cueva de Les Pedroses Δ (an important archaeological site, it seems) was close
to where it was supposed to be, and we also found a rather mucky
sink Δ at the bottom of its depression.
Some of the Austin Sevens
We next drove to, and through, La Cuevona de Cuevas – a cave with
a road through it linking the village of Cuevas to the rest of the
Lunch in Ribadesella, the highlight of which was a tabla de queso
Gamonéu – a lightly blue cheese we’d failed to find for the
2017 ‘cheese crawl’. Returned to Llanes with a diversion over the
Llano de los Carriles to Rales to view the limestone Collado de los
Cuervos (above Samureli) from the north.
A beautiful afternoon so a stroll along the Paseo de San Pedro was
in order, made slightly surreal by a musician practising his saxophone
accompanied by church bells...
In the evening we ate at the old ‘Galeon’ restaurant, now called
‘Taberna Mezcolanza’, and Mike had a dish new to us – secreto
ibérico – which was an unusual cut of pork; grilled and absolutely
||Our previous attempts (on 12th and 15th)
had failed to relocate the large resurgence to the Toyu system draining
the Latarma river. We had tried the direct approach from above first,
but this failed because the left river bank in woodland was too steep
– at least in wet weather. Indirect approaches from the north
and south at river level (left bank) also failed, even with use of
the drone. And no resurgence was visible from the track 100m above
the right bank. But as the weather had been dry, we decided today
to again approach the resurgence through the steep wooded bank (Plan
G) hoping it would be less slippery. The plan worked – at least
we came within sight and sound of running water and moss covered
boulders. But if the truth be told, the difficult terrain obliged
us to retreat some 25m from the actual resurgence itself, which is
exactly where it appears on the Speleogroup survey of 1982.
Notwithstanding this success we drove round to the right bank, walked
along the same track as Saturday, but then descended the field to
river level (Plan F) without obstacles. At the river we scrambled
50m N along the river in flat but overgrown woodland and the Latarma
stream could then be seen entering the Río Lamasón on the opposite
Toyu resurgence water flowing into Río Lamasón
Mission accomplished with GPS fixes bracketing the resurgence, giving
Δ, we had lunch at Casa Gloria in Camijanes
and then drove north to the Senda Fluvial del Nansa and walked along
the hiking path to the Cofría resurgence cave which Bill entered
until well out of sight of daylight. Back to Llanes and dinner at
the Salero restaurant. Mike had delicious fritos de merluza
(very fresh). Bill had calamares en su tinto with rice.
Forecast good, and the actual weather matched, so up to El Mazuco.
First to the bar to reserve a table (in the name of ‘Bil’) for lunch,
then a short way along the track S of the village to fly the drone
for panoramas above the Bolugo cave and of the SE aspect of the village
Drone over Bolugo
Next a hike along the track to a point above Boriza for some detailed
manoevering in Tripod Mode between the cliff face and the trees to
secure more pictures of the elusive ‘upper cave entrance’ we suspect.
Trees below the drone meant it was not possible to get a straight-in
picture, so the results were somewhat inconclusive.
By now we were ready for lunch, and much enjoyed chuletillas
and lomo from the grill, seated at the best table in the restaurant
(front left) with its fabulous view.
Our earlier panoramas from the SE of the village did not (could not)
include the bar-restaurant so we then walked up the road E of the
village to fly the drone for a variety of panoramas of the village
from the NE and also some stills and videos of the limestone above
the village and the Llabres peaks.
El Mazuco from the NE, by drone; the smoke is from the restaurant’s grill!
After a total of almost an hour’s flying we packed away the drone
and drove up to Alto de la Tornería for a walk to confirm the position
of Rafa’s Cabaña Δ, first visited
in 1986. Then back to Llanes for a very light supper.
||The Toyu GPS location project has extended over several years, with
the location of the resurgence, described above, being the third
exit/entrance of the system to be fixed, and the trickiest.
That only left the main river sink to be confirmed. Plan A was to
walk up the track until it met the river and then follow the river
down, which turned out to be impractical due to thick undergrowth.
Plan C (follow the overflow from Venta de Fresnedo) proved unnecessary
because Plan B (jungle-bash directly from above) proved successful
Δ, with the only negatives being the
inevitable scratches from brambles and a broken hiking pole. Bill
enjoyed a short wade in the river, and both almost got out of sight
of daylight in the cave.
Toyu river entrance
The weather was absolutely gorgeous again, and about 18°C (more
than warm enough on the way back up through the woods from the cave!).
Lunch was (for the fourth time this trip) at Casa Gloria; being Sunday,
roasted cabrito was on the menu [part of the incentive to visit
Toyu this day] and enjoyed by Bill, and Mike had the lubina
Back to Llanes in due course, and another light supper (patatas
||Had white coffees in both Llanes and Posada for breakfast and then
continued west to Llovio, parking the car near the farm below
Cueva del Tinganón. This was actually in private property
but the gate was wide open so we missed the sign.
As we sorted out the drone a playful but respectful sheep dog picked
up a large fircone in its mouth and “threw” it at us. It was clearly
an invitation to play, and we both kicked the fircone a few metres
and the dog would run and fetch it, and then throw it back! The
dog never became annoying, never complained when we stopped playing
to walk higher up the hill, but followed us respectfully.
Tinganón, saddle, and cloudbase
At some distance up the hill from the farm we launched the drone
straight towards the saddle, following the terrain upwards, keeping
it silhouetted against the low cloud (and therefore visible). But
at a distance of 800 metres from us it was easy to confuse with closer
birds... However, navigation at the altitude of the saddle was fine
thanks to the video camera, and a reasonable view of the lower Tinganon
entrance was seen and photographed.
On ordering the drone home the dog got quite excited and jumped and
barked (filmed by the drone, without sound). However, once Bill
caught the aircraft and Mike cut the engines he went quiet!
A welcome for the landing drone
Light lunch in the sidrería Mesón el Bodegón in Ribadesella
and a return to Llanes via the inland beach of Gulpiyuri (near Naves).
||East to La Hermida gorge to find many roadworks one of which occupied our planned launch site and hence prevented our
first objective of GPS location of Pozo del Infierno.
On to Bejes valley to take some drone panoramas for a PanGazer »
‘starter’ image; these look very promising (see screenshot).
Next into the Bejes village itself where we found the Quesería
Brañuca open; tasted picón and also goat and sheep cheese,
all excellent. Bill purchased two to take home to Italy. Next objective
was Potes for lunch, but this was thwarted by the main road up the
gorge being completely closed just south of La Hermida. Yet again
a Plan B was necessary – this time to pass some time until lunch
and then eat in La Hermida.
Bejes starter screenshot
Back to Llanes to clear the car, pack, swap digital data, write the
log, etc. Weather perfect again.
The Expedition Dinner, to our chagrin, also ended up multi-plan.
‘Taberna Mezcolanza’ (the secreto restaurant) was closed, as
was Siete Puertas. Plan C, Salero, was pleasant, however: chuletillas
and tasty liver + onions.
||Early start for drive to Bilbao, with a stop for coffee in Unquera. Fun with Security in Bilbao (possibly they just wanted a look at the drone) but otherwise uneventful trips home.
- Exchange rate: 1.14 (compared to 1.425 in 2015, 1.26 in 2016, 1.14
in 2017); 87p = 1 Euro = 166 pesetas (189 pts/GBP).
- Petrol was €1.309/litre.
- Weather: somewhat cold and wet for the first few days, then essentially
- The drone flown was a DJI Mavic Pro »;
2hr 33min in total.
GPX tracks of the drone flights may be available if you contact
- The pictures in this log were taken using a Panasonic TZ100 camera,
a Panasonic LF1, various phones, and the drone.
- Specific GPS positions are shown by a delta symbol (Δ)
in the log above – click on the symbol for a Google maps view of
the fix. These positions are also listed on the Speleogroup site list page with coordinates in °,′,″ degrees using
European 1950 datum and in UTM coordinates (both matching Spanish
maps and the digital TOPO Penínsular Norte); see Coordinate systems.
- Fixes and tracks were recorded using a Sony Xperia XA1 Android ’phone
using the MyTrails app (or by the drone, for drone flights).
- This log was almost entirely edited in the field on a Lenovo Yoga
notebook, using the
MemoWiki » extended
Wiki notation which is then processed by a
Rexx » script to generate the HTML for this