The 21st British Speleological Expedition to Matienzo surveyed nearly 7km of new
cave passage, taking the total explored in the area to more than 143km, with about 880
catalogued sites of speleological interest. The explorations occurred over a 6 week period
in July and August and involved 43 cavers. In addition, over 2km of passage were surveyed
La Sistema de Cuatro Valles
Explorations downstream in Cueva Riaño (site 105), the northern feeder to the Four
Valleys system, resulted in 1569m of surveyed passage, including old phreatic levels. In
the third trip downstream since its discovery 20 years ago, the sump was found
to have two feet of airspace, with a strong draught blowing through. The streamway was
followed down to a sump which is still a couple of hundred metres from the resurgence
pools. One inlet on the north side was followed for some 700m to a restriction which may
be passable. Another inlet was found which carries a river as big as the main stream. The
water was badly polluted which suggests that water from Riaño village feeds into it.
Further finds are likely.
La Hoyuca (Cueva Uzueka, site 107) was extended by 713m, filling in part of the
joint-orientated entrance series.
In searching for a new connection between La Hoyuca and Cueva Carcavuezo (81), the
drainage outlet from the Matienzo depression, numerous holes were catalogued and some dug,
various points were radio-located and a number of trips explored likely sites in both
caves; no new link was found to bypass the dangerous boulder choke route discovered in
On an ill-fated trip into the Trident Series in Hoyuca, a group set off at 9am
through the new entrance only to find the wallow (crawling on knees up to the waist in
liquid mud) was now full of shit with toadstools waving in the breeze; some seven hours
later while molephoning and exploring possible connections to Carcavueso, Snablet joined
the Matienzo Flying Club by dropping 6m out of the roof and rendering himself unconscious
for a few minutes; the group returned to the surface after an 18 hour trip and found that
the car wouldnt start. JJ and Jonathan walked the 10km back to camp to get
The offending pool in Hoyuca was later photographed and a letter sent to the
authorities. (The MFC gained five members this year; all entrants needed rest from caving,
some needed hospital treatment. In Cueva de los Cantones, Andy Quin removed a section of
wall which pushed him over a drop and damaged his ankle already extensively rebuilt after
a fall in an Austrian cave a few years ago.)
The north-eastern end of the valley revealed more cave with the discovery of Cueva de
los Tres Niños (site 565). Although surveyed to only half a kilometre, the presence of
large passage at this high altitude, over passage in Carcavuezo, seems to confirm that
there may be another level of development above those already known in the Cuatro Valles
Sistema de la Vega
Exploration occurred at the upstream (southwest) end of Reñada (48) where some new
passage was entered and prospects remain reasonable. The upstream end of the cave was
radio-located and various surface draughting digs looked at. Further explorations in the
cave added 676m to its length.
new, higher entrance to the system was explored to join with Azpilicueta above the 4th
pitch giving a slightly increased depth of 310m.
Between the Vega system and Cueva de Codisera (39), Cueva
de los Cantones (TV Mast Cave, site 865) was explored and surveyed to over 1.7km, with
more extensions possible and a depth of 285m indicating that the water in the cave
doesnt resurge into the depression but to the south or east, through the hill.
In this area to the north of Matienzo, a new cave, Cueva de Fresnedo 2 (site 841), was
dug and explored through a tight choke to 1.4km of passage, including phreatic levels
above the modern streamway. At the south-eastern end, a very strongly draughting dig
appears to have been by-passed. The last trip into the cave stopped at a pitch into a
large chamber which, according to the survey, seems to go beyond the dig. The draught and
the caves position indicate that kilometres of passage await discovery under the
ridge towards Cueva de Suviejo (122) and the Secadura valley or even towards the Four
Cueva Mostajo (71) was extended a short distance down a pitch to the east.
Horse Trough Pot (site 875) was discovered under a boulder capping at Seldesuto and
explored down a 28m entrance pitch to 135m of large passage.
The top level in Cueva Valline (733) near Arredondo was filmed after gaining permission
from the Tortosa group who have the permit. Subsequent conversations led to an invitation
to dive the sump next year. (Originally explored by us in 1989 to 9.7km, the Tortosa group
have extended the cave to 12km.)
Under Enaso, Cueva del Agua (site 59) was extended by some 45m in the Rioturto inlet
and a pitch was descended in the Misty Series in Torcon de la Calleja Rebollo (Toad in the
Hole, site 258). Further exploration was also carried out in the shafts on Enaso and
These sites have nothing at all to do with the caves in our area but are included here
because the British cavers at Matienzo were invited to explore and assist in recording the
cave by the permit holders.
Covachos de Peñajorao, in low level limestones near Camargo to the south of Santander,
was partly explored last year after an invitation from a group of Spanish archaeologists.
This year we were once more invited to continue the exploration and survey. The cave was
explored for almost another 2km, the end radio-located, the resurgence explored and
various specimens collected in the main cave by Carlos, one of the Spanish team.
Exploration possibilities remain good. The Spanish group applied for and received a grant
of five million pesetas from the local town hall to carry out research in the cave.
Further co-operation occurred with this group when we filmed in a new , undisturbed
archaeological cave near Santander. In about 200m of well decorated passage, behind a
calcited, man-made wall, are bones, pottery, charcoal, flints, pieces of copper; an iron
chisel and black and red dots and lines on the walls. The Spanish intend to produce a
journal with an accompanying video made up from the film shot this summer.
|Matienzo 91 Summary
|Horse Trough Pot
|4 Valleys System
|South Vega System
||Passage found and surveyed
|Camargo Caves Santander
During a fiesta jointly arranged with the locals involving a band and barbeque to
celebrate our 21 years in Matienzo, a plaque was presented to the British with the
Excmo Ayuntamiento de Ruesga
A las Expediciones Britanicas a Matienzo 1970 - 1991
En agradecimiento por las Actvidades Socio-Culturales y Deportivas realizadas en nuestro