Spain Easter Tour
To read this report in its original style, here's the link.
The Plan, the Place, the People
Back in the dawn of time (early 2001 to be exact) someone had the far-flung idea to go to an exotic location on the pretense of doing some caving. We wanted to relive some of the past glories, such as Mallorca 1999 and Slovakia 2000. The reasons why we chose southern Spain as a destination remain unclear even to this day, but history does record the three intrepid explorers whose perseverance and dedication to the cause was only ever overcome by their apathy.
Ben drove a woman's car m'lord. He did actually drive quite a long way. Basically organised the whole trip, and researched out the cave locations. Always to be relied on for self-incriminating quotes. Only rarely referred to as "Mr" Ben.
Clewin was only there for the beer really. And perhaps the sun. I called him "Florence Clewellyn Sporran" once, but the name didn't seem to stick.
We're not sure why Andy was here. Perhaps the wardens had let him out just before his exams. No idea why Ben calls him Muhatma.
28th March 2001
I, the undersigned, promise that on this trip to Malaga the minimum amount of caving necessary is done to make this trip qualify as a caving trip.
- Ben Ogborne
- Clewin Griffith
- Andrew Jurd
29th March 2001
Building sites, Building sites, Building all the way, Oh what fun it is to drive, On the Malaga highway.
Ronda is a small town, with a considerable amount of history. It is built on a cliff face and has the oldest bull-ring in Spain. The streets were full of fruit trees laden with oranges and lemons, and all the walls had old men leaning against them who stare a lot.
Upon putting up the Phor-4: "I believe that someone was being and it may well have been me"
We found a rather nice campsite just on the outskirts of Ronda, within walking distance of the towncentre. I can't remember the cost, but I think it was about ?10 a night for the 3 of us, including a tent (it was the palatial Phor-4!) and a car. As the area of Spain we were staying in was actually further West than most of Britain, the evenings were lovely and long, with late sunsets (due to the European time-zone). It did get a bit chilly at night, but this may have been due to the Phor-4's own micro-climate caused by its size. Or maybe it was just the holes and lack of door.
We spent the long evenings playing President and Arsehole with a twin deck of cards by candlelight while eating olives and drinking 99 pts wine. In the mornings we tried to avoid the naked Germans, and over-tanned Welshmen.
30th March 2001
We drove over to this infamous walkway and after using a road that wasn't finished and some workmen saying I had a woman's car. We finally got to El Chorro and saw the walkway a silly way up a cliff. The drive was nice. From here it got scary.
After a short walk to a railway bridge and crossing over it, we got to the start of the walkway. This was very scary. We got out around the corner as far as the infamous 'gap' where we stopped due to sanity. This section was exceedingly dangerous and falling apart. It actually looked the same as other sections we had been on but we blanked that out of our minds. Very very scary - any form of handrail (apart from the one that swung gently in the breeze off one side) would have been appreciated greatly. Well worth doing.
I went up the London Eye 2 days after returning, and it's not as high as this walkway
I think we went past IC Mountaineering Club when we were there, but they were too scared to go over it. A number of things would have made this less scary. Less holes in the floor, a handrail, no whistling wind, bit less rust, I could go on. Glad I did it though. El Chorro is actually Garganta del Chorro, a giant canyon a few hundred metres deep. We think the walkway was built during the construction of the railway which follows a series of tunnels parallel to the river. Over the years it has fallen into a small bit of disrepair, but the Spanish don't seem too worried about letting people over it.
We then went for a walk up the side of the mountain in search of a cave called 'El Peso' - found a few piss filled rock shelters. Andy fell over and his helmet took a fall a few 10s of meters.
31st March 2001
Cueva del Hundidero
A write up in the Style of Colm:
Waited around for Clewin and Ben while they faffed & drank tea. They are clearly gay. Went into easy cave and dipped my arse in the terminal sump. Ben didn't, he is clearly gay. Clewin fell over again, he is clearly gay. Stole a sign on the way home.
This is a cave with a large entrance (ca. 60 m high) quite close to a road. As there it's obvious, there were large numbers of coaches taking tons of people to the cave. We intended to pirate this cave, so we came back later in the day after a spot of dossing when no one else was around.
I think these pictures are sufficient proof that this was a bona-fide caving trip. I decided to do a spot of climbing down to the streamway. I didn't want to get my shoes or t-shirt wet, so I took them off. Result: some rather flattering pictures of me!
This cave is part of a system 4 km long. This is the top end of the cave, and used to be part of a reservoir except it leaked too much. Instead, the dam has now been placed above the cave entrance (a perfect chance to bag a 'Prohibido El Paso' sign). The cave resurges at the Cueva del Gato (cave of the cat), because the entrance looks a bit like a cat. I think it looks like a mummy.
Unfortunately while either cave entrance was piratable, we didn't have sufficient equipment needed to tackle the streamway, as it was quite fast flowing and cold.
1st April 2001
We got a bit homesick, so we went to Gibraltar for the day
On deciding that Sunday wouldn't really be a good day to pirate caves, the TSAP went on a smuggling mission to Gibraltar. Our British passports were met with a very English "Good Afternoon Sirs" - a refreshing change from "ethethethethethetheth". From this point on things got very surreal.
- Petrol < 50p a litre (includes VAT @0.00%)
- Cigarettes ?7-10 per 200 (no duty stickers, all shops sell cigarettes)
- Dodgy vodka for ?1.95 a litre bottle
The Evil monkeys
While admiring the views on both sides of the rock, Ben made the comment that he didn't really want to see the apes as they are far too intellegent, far too human and clearly always scheming and plotting. Oh how right he was.
We drove up to the seige tunnels and stopped to park, at which point the following events occured over 3 seconds:
- The ape saw our bread
- We saw the ape
- The ape saw the window was open
- We saw the window was open
- The ape jumped onto the door frame, then onto Ben's shoulder
- A hand reached out
- The loaf of bread+ape disappeared
The "Rock" as Gibraltar is often referred to is literally a huge peice of limestone. While there are caves (we visited St Michael's Cave) the military also found it necessary to build tens of miles of tunnels to defend this cornerstone of the British Empire from the Spanish. A short length of tunnel is open to the public, showing cannon emplacements overlooking the border. While touring these walking sized passages, we noticed a number of boarded up doorways - possible scope for a bit of TSAP action?
St Michael's Cave
St. Michael Cave is a showcave in the southern part of the rock. At least I think it is, I can't really remember how to find it. But let's face it, the whole of Gibraltar is only about 3 miles long, so if you want to visit it, finding it should be no problem.
It's your standard showcave, with greenery growing around the lights and graffiti. Apparently a load of soldiers kept this place defended against a seige, and there's also a small underground theatre for concerts etc.
2nd April 2001
Went to Villaluenga, failed to get to the cave despite being blatently in someone's garden. Went to find Los Bergardeydardytheththeth in Algar. After a bit more X-country driving we got to the town (good place to be stared at). The closest we got was a road named "de la Cueva".
We also saw about 40 vultures on the way - wing span of the same height as me.
Then we went home - Nice.
3rd April 2001
Went 2 Ardelles to find Mrs Trinidad Cave. Ended up in Carratraca - there were no tracks as in description but a map in the town showed a footpath which leads from the top of the town. We couldn't find the cave.
Note from Andy: Cave probably on north face of the hill next to Carratraca.
4th April 2001
Sima de Villaluenga
This cave has a massive entrance, and is just behind a village. We first tried to pirate this cave on the 2nd of April, but decided that it was in someone's garden so we went to Algar instead. We returned on the 4th of April to complete our mission. Our plan was to check out the area for a possible night-raid, but when we got there we found that the cave actually had a path down to it through the houses. Unfortunately the village had a large number of mad dago dogs which we had to brave, presumably placed to prevent us from reaching the cave. Also, the village had a cheese factory whose waste seemed to feed into the stream leading down into the cave.
The smell was awful.
Luckily the cheese river sank (presumably to produce a cheese sump within the cave?), so we followed a rather pleaseant dried up streamway down into the cave (above right). Further information about the cave can be found on the Grupo de Investigaciones Espeleol?gicas de Jerez webpages. They have a survey of the cave (stolen below). We reached the top of the 54 m pitch, but as we were here without permission, we had no SRT kit with us to further the exploration. This cave is definitely worth returning to, perhaps contacting the local caving groups will sort out any access problems.
We took a few photos at the bottom of the cave, and just managed to get rock over our heads. As you can see from the survey, the large slope down to the first pitch is actually open to the air.
5th April 2001
Costa Del (-Boy) Sol
'The Costa Del Sol'. Sums a few images doesn't it! Irish theme pubs, lobster red Spurs supporters and fish 'n' chip shops. Not to mention the whole place is a bit of a building site, with hotel building machines ten times the size of our car being transported along the roads. We thought we'd better spend a day on the beach but ironically the water was too cold to go swimming!
East of the Malaga airport there is a showcave. On the last day, just before we flew back, we thought we'd have a go at blagging our way in (all our money had by that point been spent on cakes and beer). Luckily the cave was closed.