0103: Espada, Cueva de la (Entrambasaguas, Cueva de) (Ruchano, Cueva del)
Riaño 30T 451082 4800727 (Datum: ETRS89. Accuracy code: A) Altitude 105m
Length 2345m Depth 39m [Length includes sites 3232 and 3222]
Area position : Logbook search : A Google search for this site (Espada, Cueva de la+Ruchano+Riaño)

Updated 27th October 2001; 25th October 2002; 8th November 2003; 27th October 2007; 4th May, 7th November 2009; 24th June, 1st October 2010; 6th January, 12th, 23rd May, July 20th, 6th September, 3rd, 16th October 2011; 23rd April, 4th May, 20th September 2012; 22nd April, 14th September, 22nd November 2013; 19th February, 5th November 2016; 24th June 2017; 16th February, 10th May, 13th September 2023

The bottom entrance is now numbered site 3232 and has been GPS'ed, although all photos and other information are accessed from this page. The cave is now more than just a stream passage through trip.

Twin top entrances unite in a streamway. The left hand entrance is dry, the right hand entrance carries the stream in a flat out crawl. The passage chokes upstream of a knee-deep pool. A small passage on the left splits: left climbs up to a choke, while to the right the far side of the main choke is met and a small streamway (not the one seen at the entrance) appears to sump upstream. Some digging has occurred in this area, eg at Easter 2013 when, "Dug inlet (garden shovel best tool) heading towards Llanío. Passage totally choked with squalid mud but may be worth further visits as draughting slots on either side, both too tight."
This passage is heading towards sites 1800 and 1801 and the digs 3222, 3226, 3227 and 3228. In the summer, 2009, site 3222 was linked into upstream Espada and this link was surveyed at Easter 2012. The upstream survey additions (159m) from the summer 2011 did not link through to the entrance of site 3222. A survey sketch is seen here. The end of the draughting passage heading north was dug a little in soft mud (needs a shovel) in August 2012. The draught comes from an over-tight hole just before the end which may connect.
In October 2013, the stream in the upstream series near the top entrance was found to have stopped flowing due to the dry weather. (See also 2023 addition below.)

Downstream of the entrance, the water occasionally disappears under the right hand wall until about 180m from the entrance, the stream route chokes. The way on is a climb 4m up a cross joint and then a 4m climb down into deep water. This can be left immediately to join walking-sized, dry passage. Two sandy inlets on the right choke and the main passage continues increasing in size until a climb over boulders and a sandy ramp is reached. This sandy passage on the right ends at an upwards boulder choke. The streamway now becomes more aqueous, passing two short inlets on the left and then encountering a large boulder choke. A couple of squeezes and then a canal is reached which joins a higher, sandy level after 20m. The left way soon chokes but the right hand route reaches daylight after 50m.
Over a couple of days at Easter 2010, a new high level series was explored. This is entered about one third of the way through the cave at the foot of a rift which is free-climbable. At the top the route enlarges to big, sandy passage and an aven with lots of bones. At the far (eastern) end a complex, well decorated area is followed by muddy passages. At the end, an awkward climb up enters a low, wide bedding which continues unexplored. Side passages at the aven have been partially explored.
During the following summer side passages were checked out. Two muddy sections were entered on the left hand side: both ended in muddy chambers with no way on, although it may be possible to drop further in one with a ladder. Two side passages were checked on the right: both are still going but are small and need pushing. "There is still more work to do beyond large pit in the floor."

A short, undocumented passage with carbide arrows was found just downstream of the top entrance and surveyed as batch 13-06 in the summer, 2013. A roof passage noted in July was surveyed in October (batch 13-07) and various holes dropping back to the streamway found, length 36m.

The dry bottom entrance contains important palaeolithic remains, probably Magdalenian.

About 50m inside the bottom entrance to the cave, in the water, Dave Linton found a Bronze Age sword in 1975. This has been dated in the Argaric period. The publication Almagro-Gorbea M, 1976 is devoted to this sword and other fine examples found in Santander Province. Dave has been in contact (June 2023) with Dr Ignacio Montero Ruiz who is carrying out a lead isotope analysis on the sword. (See summer 2023 logbook, p4)
Flints have also been discovered and C.A.E.A.P. discovered an iron rivet and Iron Age pottery on the boulder slope in the first chamber.

Morlote Jose M et al, 1995 describes Ruchano as one of the Iron Age sepulchral caves in the area.

The bottom entrance was resurveyed at Easter 2009 adding 57m to the length. Over Easter 2012, the connection through to the bottom entrance was surveyed (in a tight section between boulders) and the survey of the system almost completed. The Easter 2012 survey can be seen here.

"A man from Riaño" in May 2011 confirmed the name of the bottom entrance to be Cueva de Ruchano (cf Ruchana). It is possible that the top entrance is just "Pozo Negro". A rustic sign was erected in early summer, 2013 sign posting the bottom entrance from the main road. The sign reads "CUEVA DE LA ESPADA".

In April 2023, during very dry weather, the upstream area was inspected for leads and the possibilities for future digging through to Fridge Door Cave. The ducks were low and easily passed. Water bubbled up through the floor, presumably from Fridge Door and beyond had ponded water. At the end, a boulder blocks the way and may support other boulders in the choke. (See video made during the trip.)

Link to entry in the Cave Diving Sump Index.

References: anon., 1975b (Easter and summer logbooks); Kendal Caving Club and Manchester University Speleological Society, 1975 (survey); anon., 1976 (logbook); Smith P, 1981a; Corrin J S and Smith P, 1981; Manchester University Speleological Society, 1982 (survey); Almagro-Gorbea M, 1976 (survey); material in file; Munoz Fernandez E et al, 1987; Muñoz E and Bermejo A, 1987; Morlote Jose M et al, 1995; Ruiz Cobo Jesús and Smith Peter et al, 2001; anon., 2002b (summer logbook); Corrin Juan, 2003b; Ruiz Cobo Jesús and Smith Peter, 2003; Corrin Juan and Smith Peter, 2007; anon., 2009a (Easter logbook); anon., 2009c (summer logbook); anon., 2010b (Easter logbook); anon., 2010c (summer logbook); Corrin Juan, 2010; Corrin Juan, 2011 (photo); anon., 2011b (Easter logbook); anon., 2012b (Easter logbook); anon., 2012d (summer logbook); Ruiz Cobo J and Muñoz Fernández E, 2013; Corrin Juan, 2013a; anon., 2013b (Easter logbook); anon., 2013d (summer logbook); Papard Philip, Corrin Juan and Smith Peter, 2014; anon., 2016c (summer logbook); anon., 2023b (Easter logbook); anon., 2023c (summer logbook)
Entrance pictures : yes
Underground pictures: lower levels 2009 : low levels and new upper level Easter 2010
upper level, summer 2010 : misc Easter 2011 : in site 3232 (August 2011)
around the 0103/3232 connection, Easter 2012 : top entrance Easter 2012
Streamway, Easter 2013; streamway February 2023
Video: bottom entrance Easter 2009 (18Mb) : Upstream inspection and conditions in dry weather, April 2023
Detailed Survey : from 1975: low res  high res : Survey Sept 2011
Survey sketch of 2011 summer upstream : Survey after Easter 2012 : survey after summer 2013 : survey after autumn 2013 : survey after April 2023
Line Survey :
On area survey :
Survex file : yes with sites 3232, 1800 and others (after summer 2016) (Amended magnetic declination December 2013 to align with Eur79 grid and coordinates altered to fit ETRS89 datum, April 2014.)
Passage direction rose diagram (Patrick Warren): yes