Hidden Earth 2023

Matienzo in the 2020s

30 minute Lecture|Chris Scaife

Matienzo in the 2020s


British cavers have been visiting Matienzo in northern Spain for decades. This timeless village, home to a bar that never stops serving, sits in an enormous enclosed karst depression known to cavers as the Happy Valley. The number of known caves in the area exceeds 5,000 and the longest systems include the Four Valleys (72km long), Cueva Vallina (37.5km) and the South Vega (34.8km).

There have been some major finds in recent years, including several kilometres of decorated passage in Torca del Muérdago and Torca la Decepción. This latter pothole descends three pitches and allows an express route into a part of the Four Valleys system that could previously be visited only on long, long caving trips. The potential for further extension of this system is huge.

This talk will summarise recent expeditions to Matienzo and discuss the potential for future finds. With an average of almost 7km of new passage being found every year, there sure is potential!