Oxford University Cave Club

British Speleological Expedition to the Cantabrian Mountains of Northern Spain, 1965

in conjunction with the "Espeleologos de Penalba", Leon

British Speleological Expedition 1965 Report

Other Expedition reports

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Cueva de Valporquero

M.J. Walker

The entrance lies 0.5 kms south-east of the church at Valporquero de Torío, León province, and is at 1310 m above sea-level. It measures 40 m wide by 6-8 m high, opening under a cliff at the lower end of an uvala, dominated by a perched block on a small peak to the west known locally as El Cogullon.

A wide dry entrance chamber 100 m in length and in places reaching 35 m in height descends among large boulder for -25 m. At the end of this chamber, a climb over gours at +20 m on the left leads into an upper chamber 27 m, long by 10 m, high. This, in turn} leads to stalactite formations and pools, and another sluggish stream flows towards the stalactite formations just described. At the far end of the chamber the stream is seen to emerge by more stalactites from a low passage which may be followed for some distance.

Descending by the gour slope to the entrance chamber, and continuing downwards leads into a long chamber 70 m long, 20 m wide and 18 m high. The stream, which has appeared from among boulders, descends this chamber, but at the far end enters a low passage.

At the end of the long chamber of Gran Rotonda, a climb over boulders of +20 m leads into a low, decorated passage 100 m long, Cementerio, which descends for about -20 m, to lead into the large Gran Via which is 200 m, long, 8-12 m wide, and in places over 50 m high. From here a climb over boulders of 20 m high leads into an upper series about 200 m long. A decorated chamber about 90 m long leads to the Sala de las Maravillas, which is 100 m long and 20 m high, and contains many fine formations and large pools.

Returning to the Gran Via a lower series may be entered and a passage some 90 m long descended for about -30 m, among boulders. A delicate climb through boulders permits the stream to be regained, as it appears from a low passage. The stream passage may be followed for some 300 m which involve the crossing of deep pools by swimming or dinghy. The passage here is not more than 10-20 m, high. The passage descends over this distance for perhaps -20 m.

A large calcite flow is reached which must be descended for -15 m into a large chamber. This chamber is perhaps 70 m high. The chamber is entered at the head of a pitch of -23 m; following the water. Below this large gour pools have formed, and from here the cave takes on enormous proportions. A wide stream passage with more lakes to be traversed by swimming continues, being perhaps 50 m in height in places. The waterfall chamber and the passage are richly decorated with stalactite formations in many colours.

The stream passage continues from the waterfall chamber for approximately 300 in., maintaining the enormous dimensions described. There are various descents over flowstone bosses and short pitches in the course of this section of the passage, on which a hand-line is useful. There are three or four such descents, none of which is over 8 m, in depth. The passage terminates in a large chamber about 30 m, across with pebbles and sand, the stream sinking at one side,

The way on is by a climb of +5 m in one wall, leading to a tube. The climb does not require a ladder. The tube is some 5 m in lengths and leads to the head of a descending vertical tube about -5 m deep and some 2 m, maximum diameter. At the foot of this a low muddy pool leads to the foot of another climb up through a similar tube for +5 m, immediately followed by a climb down a narrow rift of -5 m into a large daylight chamber.

This chamber is the cave formerly known as La Covona in the valley called La Forfoguera, a ravine in the Bide of the Torío canyon 1 km S of Felmin. This cave is a large diaclase about 15 m high and 40 m long. The stream reappears from below the rock and meanders among pebbles to descend the ravine of La Forfoguera and so gain the Rio Torío. The exit is about 1170 m above sea-level.

See Survey.