OUCC Proceedings 7 (1975)

Caves in the Villa Area

Peter Friend

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Above Cortines lies a plateau between Villa and Rotella, at about 240m above sea level. Along this lie several depressions about 200m wide and 40m deep. In the two most westerly of these, cave entrances were found, where the water drains off the sandstone into the limestone ridge.

Cueva Jou

Nearest Rotella is Cueva Jou, whose entrance is about 5m high. The passage descends steeply to the first pitch, which is 7m and free-hanging. Below the first pitch, the main streamway is joined which, at the time of exploration, was almost dry but which carries a raging torrent O.5m deep in winter.

Upstream, the passage continues for about 50m, where it becomes too tight to continue. Downstream, on the right, is a very pretty inlet, the walls and floor being covered in calcite. There are two ways down from here, both involving 9m pitches, into a small chamber 15m high and 10m across. Immediately below this chamber is another, entered by a 5m pitch (rigged with a long wire belay, the other two pitches requiring tape slings).

At this stage the cave changes character and a phreatic passage is met. The passage is initially about 4m high, but soon becomes a crawl with a pebbly floor. The last 10m are a flat-out crawl and are not very pleasant. Here, the passage ends, the stream sinking among the pebbles.

Local hydrological folklore claims that the water has been shown (a hundred years ago) to resurge at a nearby village by the technique of dropping old teeth down the first pitch.

Un-named Cave

This cave is about 150m west of Cueva Jou, the entrance being almost completely choked, with just enough room to enter. Soon, the passage opens up to about 5m high and descends steeply. The floor is largely calcite and the walls have many formations. After 40m the small stream sinks through stones and the way on is via a crawl on the left. A tricky 4m climb is met and, just past it are two pitches of 6m and 4m, the same ladder being used for both. However there is no way on from this final chamber where the stream sinks into the pebbly floor.

Of the other depressions, three or four were checked for cave entrances without success, but the depressions nearest Villa were not visited and could possibly contain cave entrances similar to those we found in the area.