4171: Fuente del Francés, Cueva de la
Hoznayo 30T 442983 4804700 (Datum: ETRS89. Accuracy code: G) Altitude 33m
Length 126m Depth 5m
Area position : A Google search for this site (Fuente del Francés, Cueva de la+Hoznayo)

Updated 7th December 2015; 12th, 19th February 2016

   The area around the Fuente de Francés at Hoznayo has a varied history based around the springs and the scenery. Some indication of the past can be found by using the Google link above. A couple of links are here and here. Before reaching the Fuente and the associated structures, the río Aguanaz flows through a natural arch, about 9m wide and high and 18m long. This is known as the "Gruta del Diablo" (site 4244). At the upstream end, on the right bank is the bottom entrance to the cave, site 4171.

   The cave is more easily entered through the top entrance, found by taking the right hand road branch then walking down the landscaped path on the right that skirts the river. A hole with some stout poles on the left of the path drops into the cave and the top entrance is found a few metres further on, around the corner. The entrance is gated but not locked although, in October 2015, this entrance had been secured with a hammered-over bolt. (Access to the bottom entrance was down through the ruined building by the river which involves a short, awkward climb). Nearly all the routes are comfortable walking on squashed sediments.
   The passage splits immediately inside the 2m high top entrance. On the left hand wall, there are some small marks with a red tint and some faint pencil signatures. To the right, the route passes through two smashed brick walls and a window down to the left then bends around to steps down (cut in the rock?). Almost immediately steps rise up to meet the left hand route from the entrance. In this chamber there are sediments on one wall under a layer of calcite which appear relatively undisturbed.
   The way forward passes a hole up to daylight a couple of metres up. The main route then bends around, passing through a chamber, to drop down 2 flights of steps to the river. On the right, before the steps, three passages set off: the stooping left hand route closes in after 10m; the right hand passage immediately joins the middle one, which soon ends straightahead at a small hole through to what appears to be a choked chamber.
    Back to the right, a passage has a small slope up then down under a low arch into the previous chamber. At the top of a the slope, the 3m high aven has a roof made of old wooden planks.
   At the top of the steps down to the river, a passage on the left has steps up disappearing under a collapse. The bottom entrance area is landscaped with concrete benches. A deep pool is the entry point to the river flowing through the arch of the Gruta del Diablo, site 4244.
   The cave has been electrically lit in the past - when the site was a diversion for visitors to the area - there are a couple of wires and a lamp fittings still visible.

   The site has seen a great deal of archaeological excavation. Most passages are the result of extensive digging and removal of sediments at the start of the twentieth century. Deposits have been dated to Musteriense, Solutrense, Magdaleniense and Aziliense. Some of the artifacts extracted are in the Museo de Santander. The short article in Ruiz Cobo J and Muñoz Fernández E, 2013 (El registro arqueológico del valle de Miera, pages 378-379) summarises the cave history, provides a number of references and has a survey showing the position of possible markings.
   In the early 1950's the cave was gated and spiders were observed (Derouet L, Dresco E, Dury M et Negre J, 1955, p65).

[The Fuente del Francés was a spa created by Genaro Toca Cagigal in the late nineteenth century, wanting to take advantage of existing medicinal waters very close to his home in Villaverde de Pontones. The building next to the "Fondín" and "Bathhouse" formed a complete resort for leisure, rest and cure. In the late 1870s he began to work with great success, but by the end of the century it closed. It remained abandoned until the then famous Dr. Morales decided to put it into operation again, exploiting the waters for medicinal purposes. The "Agua de Hoznayo" ended up being the most common bottled water in most Cantabrian homes until its closure in 1980.
   Adapted from http://trasmeranos.blogspot.com.es/2011/02/la-fuente-del-frances-hoznayo.html ]

Reference: Derouet L, Dresco E, Dury M et Negre J, 1955; Ruiz Cobo J and Muñoz Fernández E, 2013 ; anon., 2015c (summer logbook); anon., 2015d (autumn logbook)
Entrance pictures : bottom & top entrances
Underground pictures: 2015
Video: Round trip, 2015
Detailed Survey : from Ruiz Cobo J and Muñoz Fernández E, 2013, p379 : survey, summer 2015 : survey with the Gruta del Diablo
Line Survey :
On area survey :
Survex file : yes : with Gruta del Diablo (4244)