Oxford University Cave Club

Cave Research Group publication 14

1961 Oxford University Expedition to Northern Spain

1961 Expedition Report (CRG 14)

Other Expedition reports

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The expedition was undertaken with two objects in view. The first was the investigation of limestone features and erosion in the western massif of the Picos de Europa, a group of limestone peaks in the Cantabrian Mountains, and the second was the investigation of pre-historic rock-carvings in Asturias and Galicia - which is to form the subject of a separate paper.

The Picos de Europa were deemed eminently suitable for geomorphological and speleological research because of the neglect of this region by other workers and to the presence of some 8, 500 feet of Mountain Limestone above sea level. Also, these peaks were relatively near to the sites of archaeological interest to the expedition and had the advantage of ease of access by a track leading from the village and shrine of Covadonga to the mountain refuge, near Lake Enol 3, 700 feet above sea level, where the expedition made its base. Only a limited area of the western massif could be explored in any great detail on account of the physical nature of the terrain and the attendant difficulties of transporting large quantities of equipment on foot.

A strong, and well-coordinated team was essential, and comprised the following members:

Michael Austin (Photographer, chemist); W. John Crompton (Geomorphologist); J. Martin Cummins (Interpreter); Ian R. Gordon (Photographer, chemist and treasurer), David A. Hukin (Transport officer, photographer); Kenneth J. Mills (Chemist); Michael J. Walker (Leader); John D. Wilcock (Caving organiser and geophysicist).

To strengthen the team three members of the Manchester University Speleological Society were invited to join the expedition:

Anthony C. Delany (Chemist); Michael Holroyd; G. James Morgan; and also from the Battersea College of Advanced Technology: Martin R, Trump.

The success of the expedition could not have been ensured without the tireless efforts made by its members beforehand in preparing and making equipment, A great deal of work went into making the transport road-worthy; the making of ladders and stretchers; the preparation of medical kits, and the sorting and packing of all equipment required for a two-month expedition.

Each member of the expedition contributed approximately £70.

The following reports also include notices of work carried out by a follow-up expedition in 1962 and notes on a third one carried out in 1963. The 1962 party was nine - five new members and four of the 1961 expedition - and it was run in conjunction with the Oxford University Cave Club. The 1963 party comprised members from several Derbyshire and northern clubs together with some from the Oxford University Cave Club.

Michael J. Walker, University College, Oxford.