Updated 15th October 2008; 12th May 2012; 28th April, 5th, 6th, 21st October, 16th November 2013; 6th March 2014; 5th July, 30th October 2015; 1st July 2018; 28th January 2019
ENTRY IS NOT PERMITTED BY THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THE HOUSE ABOVE THE ENTRANCE
In December 2018, an attempt was made by Diane Arthurs and Simon Cornhill to negotiate access to the cave: Unfortunately the ‘incident’ from 2008 appears to still be very prominent in the resident’s minds who live in the house above the entrance, as they kept mentioning the use of explosives. No matter what we could say, they were adamant that there is absolutely no access to this cave.
This situation feels odd, as when we explored this cave in 2013/2014 having spoken to all of the local residents at the time there were no issues.
It is worth noting that on the owners property there were two new looking signs, one said neighbourhood watch and the other had images of a cctv camera, a police officer’s head and a radio mast! This could explain how the Guardia Civil arrived so quickly when we attempted to approach the cave at Easter this year.
Description (Simon Cornhill)
A small entrance series leads to an extensive and complicated maze system, currently 1.5km long and covering the size of a rugby pitch.
The main development is on one level, where the nature of the main passages are typically walking, 1-1.5m wide and 5-10m high with many junctions.
In places the 'walls' are comprised of very large pillars, creating junctions every couple of meters which adds to the feeling of disorientation. The passages have a sandy floor, a flat sandstone roof and are festooned with a variety of delicate and interesting formations.
The northern and eastern areas are close to the surface and eventually choke, end or become too low. The western area which is closest to Torca la Vaca (around 35m above) is bounded by a massive and extensive boulder choke. To the south, and heading into the hill, the cave ends at several well decorated grottos, a small boulder choke and blocked passages.
The powerful outward draught throughout the entrance series is unfortunately lost, but the western chokes feel cold and a couple of passages to the south seem to draught slightly.
The entrance has a stone lintel and pillars leading into a man-made cold store, at the back of which is a small body sized tube where a cold draught appears to be continuously emitted. The tube continues for 25m around several corners to an enlargement. This section shouldn't pose any real difficulty for the 'average caver' now as the tighter corners have been removed.
To the left in the enlargement is a too low passage which is assumed to be very close to the surface. Ahead, a small inlet enters from the roof, whilst to the right the obvious way on is down a slope to brief stooping height.
A small passage to the left is too low but connects with the known system. Continuing ahead up a short slope is a junction (the limit of the Easter 2012 exploration, where the freshly gnawed bone was found and halted further progress - Bone Junction). Straight on here is too low and assumed to head back to the surface. To the left the passage continues as a crawl for 10m, to emerge into a passage of comfortable hands and knees proportions Lucky Thirteen (Stn: 1.13).
This is the end of the entrance series. Let the games begin!
South and West areas
Left at Lucky Thirteen junction and continuing in the same direction, the hands and knees crawl from several places leads to the main system, into I Believe Chamber (Stn: 1.18), where the roof soars up to 10m high. The main way on from here is in a north westerly direction, passing through Continental Chamber (Stn: 1.23). Between these two chambers is the main complex area where the 'walls' comprise of very large pillars, creating junctions every couple of meters.
Continuing north west from Continental Chamber into Eleventh hour Passage a climb over a fallen slab is Keel Corner (Stn:1.30). Straight ahead, the obvious way on passes the Octopus Tentacles eventually leads to a small chamber (Stn: 1.34). Beyond here is the start of the extensive boulder choke: a slope to the north leads to a higher level in the choke whilst a crawl to the northwest leads to a lower level.
At Keel Corner heading due south reaches the Bed Headrest (Stn: 41.5). On the left, at the foot of the bed, an excavated draughting squeeze emerges in a small chamber Meya Teleta (Stn: 103.4). Right closes up after a short distance. Left up a 2m climb ends with a small hole in boulders. Straight ahead down a 5m inclined slab The Crocadile Slide (handline useful) enters another small loose chamber. Directly ahead a 2m climb enters an unpleasant area full of large sandstone blocks.
At the end of this chamber over a mud bank is Choss Pit. This 10m pitch is potentially free climbable but is VERY loose so it was descended in three short pitches (25m rope + 7 thrubolts). At the top of these pitches a high level chamber can be accessed with a dodgy false floor over a 7m drop. Nothing of interest was found.
At the bottom of the pitches a chamber is formed from massive fallen blocks. Under the pitch is the most interest, a climb down a loose mud slope or crawl & p4 leads to a slot at the top of a heavily fossilised cross rift. A snug p7 descends this to a dig at the bottom. Peering through the rift an enlargement can be seen and rocks rattle down for a few metres. Capping is required to make any progress. All ropes derigged.
Between Continental Chamber and the start of Eleventh Hour Passage, several routes head south to a slope up with a loose choke at the top. Ignoring this leads to a short climb up into the well decorated L.O.S.T. Chamber (Stn: 2.10). The obvious way on is to the east, where the passage changes nature to become the very crumbly Ever Collapsing Stream Passage with several holes in the floor. The larger hole at the end and to the left of this were both descended to too tight immature streams. This is one of the lowest places in the cave.
Back in L.O.S.T. Chamber, it is possible to climb up at Stn 2.11 to gain a route through the Greyhound Grotto and past the Ice Queen Grotto before heading back north to I Believe Chamber. This route is NOT recommended due to the very close proximity of delicate formations.
North and Central Areas
Back at the end of the entrance series, turning right at Lucky Thirteen (northeast) the hands and knees crawl passes a passage on the left at Stn: 50.1. (Carrying straight on to a stal, a steep bank is descended into walking passage. CAUTION: there is a 6m deep pit at the base of the slope! This has been descended but un-surveyed, it quickly closes down in all directions. The rest of the higher level ends in chokes and appears to be close to the surface.)
Taking the left turn at Stn: 50.1 is the main route into the northern area. Continuing straight on past several side passages a T-junction is met, the way on is to the right. To the left, southwest several low passages are past which connect into the complex area near I Believe Chamber. Rising to walking height bear left at the bottom of the slope. Rounding a left corner enters the high Magic Pony rift chamber. It is possible to climb down 13m in the floor here but chokes up. To the north a passage ends in tight ascending rift which chokes.
Taking the first passage on the left (southwest) at Stn:51.6 in Magic Pony Chamber, slopes up and down reaches an ascent on a slippery calcite slope to Parsnip Junction at Stn:51.13. Straight on through a couple of crawls bring you back to Eleventh Hour Passage. Possibly the best route from the north to south sections in this area.
Left at Parsnip Junction and down a slope reaches another junction Stn:51.15. Ahead is a chamber at the end of Magic Pony where several passages end too tight.
Back at the junction at Stn:51.15, heading northwest ducking under a hanging boulder, a short climb and acrobatic step over a 3m pit brings you to a junction in a series of roof level crawls Stn:37.5. Left and heading SSW round a corner is over Eleventh Hour Passage, which can be seen through several holes in the floor. Part way along this passage heading northwest is the well decorated Coat Hook Corridor. Traversing over several pits, this ends in sandstone break down.
Back at the junction with Stn:37.5, northeast through a stal squeeze Prison Gates a 10m pitch is reached. At the bottom of this southwest ends in a sandy blockage. To the northeast and down a 2m climb, over a pit, a 4m climb up and down. (A ladder can be belayed to large thread at the top of the climb). This continues in brief walking passage. A 3m climb up a mud step and crawl enters No Fractura Way, where cracks in the passage walls get bigger the further in you go, as if they have been ripped apart by a seismic event. This ends at squeeze The Round Window, (Stn:60.19), where the cave dramatically changes nature into a chaotic boulder choke. This is next to Zorro's Revenge Choke. East down a 5m climb/pitch, a muddy crawl connects into this. Digging and descending numerous holes in both chokes has so far been unsuccessful in locating a way on.
The big boulder chokes are around 70m horizontally from High Street Oxbow in the high level route in Torca La Vaca and 40m above it. The top of the, as yet unclimbed, 24m aven in High Street Oxbow narrows this gap to 16m above Vaca….
Reference: anon., 2008c (Easter logbook); anon., 2008e (summer
logbook); anon., 2013b (Easter logbook); anon., 2013d (summer logbook); anon., 2014a (January, February logbook); anon., 2018e (Christmas logbook)
Entrance pictures: Up to Easter 2012 : summer 2013
Underground pictures : Easter 2013 : summer 2013 : February 2014
Video : Easter 2013 (YouTube) : summer 2013 : February 2014 (YouTube)
Detailed Survey : sketch :
complete from summer 2013 ¦ pdf with centre line ¦ pdf without centre lines ¦ svg file
Sketch beyond the Crocodile Slide from the February 2014 logbook : "Final" survey prepared summer 2015 - pdf or svg
Line Survey :
On area survey :
Survex file : February 2014 (Coordinates altered to fit ETRS89 datum, April 2014.)
Passage direction rose diagram: 1/7/2018