OUCC Proceedings 7 (1975)

La Hermida Area

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Mike Cowlishaw

'A further visit would almost certainly yield new passages' (4) - how often is this kind of statement met in expedition reports. However the writer had promised himself the trip, and so two years and two expeditions to the Picos later, a return visit was made to the La Hermida gorge in the company of Martin Laverty, Steve Newton and Bill Collis. After meeting a Spanish team from Barcelona, who were planning to resurvey the cave over the next few days, we sweated up the hillside and eventually found the entrance. A fairly direct route through the cave soon brought us to the previous limit of exploration.* An easy but cold duck was soon passed - this led to the beginning of a deep, wide lake winding off into the darkness. Not being equipped for, swimming a retreat was made back out and down to the Spanish camp at Coto del Infierno. On discussing this find with the Spanish cavers it transpired that one of their members had stumbled on the lake while lost some three years before - but had been unable to find it again.

The next day saw Bill and Mike back at Coto del Infierno to guide the Spanish surveying team to the lake. After helping them carry their rucksacks, tents, dinghies etc. to the Talps gallery we eventually got to the lake. A fine swim led to a disappointing boulder choke. An Anglo-Espanol pushing attempt was unsuccessful but several new side passages were explored for some distance. Eventually we left and were well entertained by those Spaniards who were not camping inside the cave.

*S.E.S. TALPS had explored and 'surveyed' the cave up to this point about five years ago. This is 1km beyond the point described as the 'limit of exploration' in (5)