Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 12 Mar 2017

Expedition details (GPF2017b-001)

Expedition Name (& Club): Matienzo 2017 (Matienzo Cave Project)
Destination country: Spain
Region: Catabria
Lat: 43.3266 Long: -3.5868 Elevation: 156 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Philip Papard
Total cavers: 20
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 2
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 3
UK/nonUK cavers: 19/1
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 1st Jan 2017 - 31st Dec 2017
Duration (days): 365
Man-days in field: 800 Man-days travelling: 120
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

Continued work in the Matienzo area to explore, survey and document the caves in this area with now well over 300km found by this expedition over the last 40+ yrs. In 2017 the main objectives are: continue with hydrological mapping of area; continue the work to link Cueva Vallina with Cueva Renada (100+ potential); extend North Vega system (new composite survey produced of this 22km system) with the view of pushing towards link to Cueva 415 and the 56km Four Valley's System (again a 100+km potential). Note the 20-personal listed in part 3 is not the full list, we are not yet sure of the exact numbers from Manchester Uni and others who will come in the Summer and I did not see the need to add another 20 plus people - if more information is needed I will supply.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

Last year we did not apply for a grant due to shorter expedition in summer as members attended and presented work at EuroSpeleo, and key equipment purchase was put over to 2017. This year we needed a new hi-spec desktop PC (for our extensive web-site and records etc.) and are in process of purchasing and helping to develop new cave radios and location tools (sub-phone build by Ron Taylor of Cumbria Designs) and will have more people in the field. Matienzo Caves Project is very important for the UK with its high quality on-line "open information" on this important caving area and the good reputation it has developed in EU circles. It is a training venue for young cavers who can later use skills leant in Matienzo to expeditions elsewhere. The grant allows us to provide the IT, caving equipment and surveying tools for this work to take place and allow us to require a reduced and lower expedition fee for members under 25yrs.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

In the past two years’ water testing, has demonstrated the link between Cueva Vallina and Cueva Renada. We have discovered passages that appear to be associated with this possible link and were partly pushed and explored in 2016. In 2017 work to achieve this link will continue by way of both diving and pushing the passages found in 2016 that run above the flooded sections. The key area is fairly remote and requires trips in excess of 12hrs, at this stage in 2017 camping is not envisaged.
As part of the work on this system the survey of the South Vega systems is being updated with considerable re-survey being needed to update and improve the surveys done in the early 1970s, this work will continue so we have an accurate survey of the whole system up to modern detailed standards and available to all on-line.
As part of our work to document the caves in the area, a new survey of the North Vega system has been produced with a key part transferred from existing old paper surveys. This is the first time such a survey of the whole 22km system has been available and this has highlighted key spots for pushing that could extend the system towards Cueva 415 and a possible link to the Four Valleys System which must act as one of the water outlets. A number of kms were found in this system over the past few years, but we now need to check out key sites for pushing and digging work to extend the boundary of the system. With the new survey, we are better placed to identify key spots (the old paper surveys were hard to read and did not cover the whole complex on one sheet), and with modern techniques (drills etc.) what was almost impossible in the 1970s could now be a realistic prospect.
Two years ago, we started a hydrological mapping exercise and some very important links have been demonstrated (Vallina to Renada; Hoyon to Renada, Catchment of Fuente Aguanaz, etc.) - this work will continue depending on water conditions, a key area is the Fuente Aguanaz (1 m3/sec ave) catchment to the northwest of the area so as to delimitate its extent. Another key site is the North Vega system but with a possible link to Fuente Aguanaz timing of this test will depend on when we are certain that previous tests to this site have fully cleared - if any doubt we will delay the test to next year.

Two very important objectives are to make the entrances to two systems safe. These are "Giant Panda" entrance to the Four Valleys System (a key entry point that by-passes slow and awkward flood prone passages), and "BigMat Calf Hole" that again by-passes a long duck and flood prone section and is the best and key entry to Cueva Vaca. Movement of ground following exceptional wet weather in 2015 made both these sites dangerous, some remedial work has been carried out, but it is now important to make a more permanent job and reduce the risk to an acceptable level (both sites are also used by Spanish caves as noted on YouTube) the alternative would be to close the entrances, but this would hinder exploration work. Considerable effort and materials (stainless re-bar, concrete, engineering blocks, acro props etc.) will be needed to complete this work.

Diving will take place at some key sites, including: logistically complicated dives in Cueva Vallina (due to length of carry and length and depth of sumps) at the main downstream sump 6 and upstream Rio Rioja; Cueva de Lolo where a short sump lead to a small blockage into open passage in 2016; and continuing pushing Invisible Cave through a series of short sumps and past the previous limit in sump 8. This is an interesting and unexpected site between the adjacent Fuente Aguanaz and Cueva Vaca systems.

In addition to above, new and identified but not pushed sites in the permit area will be explored and smaller caves checked out for prospects (well over 4000 sites are now listed and recorded) - it is too extensive to go into all the possible objectives here, partly as some sites are weather dependent such as Cueva Yoyo and Washing Machine Hole.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

I will not list all the previous publications the most important are listed below. The main way our work is made available is via our very extensive web-site where all our work is recorded with open access to our surveys, testing records and finds. This site is a model for ready and easy availability of information on all our work and finds and is available to all. In addition, the Expedition has given support to scientific work including on-going paleoclimate studies being undertaken by Lancaster university with a second PHD student currently well into her studies. Associated with this work a "cave monitoring" workshop is taking place in Matienzo just after Easter this year and although not directly linked to the expedition it will generate some cross-over effects. A number of the delegates have asked to join the expedition for a few days prior to this workshop.

We're the major explorers. Some references: Cuadernos II, VIII, IX-X; Matienzo 74; Matienzo 75; MUSS Journals 8, 9, 10; Articles in Caves & Caving 8 11 14 18 22 26 32 35 41 44 49 55 58 63 66 70 75 79 83 87 89; Speleology 2, 3 & 5. Trans 8.1 and article in 10.3; articles about the explorations and archaeology in Spanish journals by Peter Smith. Most recent major overview in Spanish is in Actas del V Congresso Español de Espeleología (1990), pp345 - 355 (Federación Española de Espeleología). Annual summaries published with Federación Cántabra de Espeleología. A major work is Ruiz Cobo Jesús and Smith Peter et al, 2001. The Archaeology of the Matienzo Depression, North Spain. In BAR International Series 975, 224 pages. La Cueva de Cofresnedo en el Valle de Matienzo, a 198 page colour book summarising a 6 year archaeological project by the same authors, was published 3 years ago by the Cantabrian Government. Expedition reports for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 have appeared in recent Speleology issues. The 2011 and 2012 reports are out for publication very soon by Erin Lynch, the 2013 report is in final editorial stages but all information on the finds etc are on the website together with "complete" history & cave descriptions, at
The full colour, dual language book "Matienzo: 50 Years of Speleology" (ISBN: 978-0-9566045-0-7) was published in August
2010. This book details 50 years of Spanish and foreign explorations in over 3400 caves." • 320 pages • 310 photographs • Cave surveys • DVD with extra photos and movie files - Power Point presentations - Google Maps presentation • Geological map of the area around Matienzo.
The Note - the attachments are the two reports to the Spanish Fed for 2016. As not applying for a grant in 2016 we did not send in a report, so this gives you information on progress being made in Matienzo. The English report was over 5mb so I had to cut out some pictures etc. to bring it below the 5mb limit - hence the format is not perfect!

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Complex due to the nature of the Matienzo Expedition as some cavers come with partners etc., so here I have estimated just the cost relevant to the caver.
People will travel by own transport using the Ferry to Santander or Bilbao, or fly form various airports (mainly EasyJet and Ryan air). The rest will take channel crossing and drive through France. Also, members will travel not only at Easter and Summer but at other times in the year.

# from UK: 40 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £18,780 Not all plans have been made so below is an estimate
20 cavers by Ferry at Easter both ways in 7 vehicles £5,000
22 cavers by Ferry in Summer both ways in 7 vehicles £6,000
Other costs such as fuel, tolls, etc. - £3,500
About 12 flights to either Bilbao or Santander return at £180 each = £2,180
Care hire (x5) and millage of 400ml each car on travel to Mateinzo and while in Spain = £1100. Via ferry and drive via France - 10 cavers - 3 vehicles equivalent to 2600ml each plus tolls and ferry costs = £1,000

# from outside UK: 4 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £0 Those leaving from outside the UK are either two British who live in Matienzo so zero cost, or two Danish (I have not put in a cost as they are not eligible for funding)

Travel total: £18,780 Travel p.p. from UK: £469
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £0


Total: £13,700 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £311 Cavers provide own meals either cooking, local Bar or resturatnt - at local Bar Set meals are 14€ (£12 say £14 with Breakfast - About 800 man-days on site or travelling = about £12,000 Camping and other accommodation - £2500 (note several members have accommodation in area and these are at nil cost to expedition)


Total: £3,295 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £75 A lot of equipment to be used is from previous years or on loan form members so does not appear in the costs - below is new and replacement gear only.
Sundres for surveying - paper, waterproof cases, pads etc - £100
Snappers etc to remove rock - £200
Equpment to make safe two entrances (acro props, scaffolding, concrete, and Stainless re-bar - £200
Bags for tackle at £25 each x5 - £125
Hangers and bolts (incl for Climbing) - £600
Rope 200m at 1.2 £/m - £240
2 x laser distance units (Bocsh) - £12

Special 1

Total: £1,710 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £39 1x High spec desktop PC and Coral Draw - £910 (half cost of PC was paid by mem and Cave Radios - estimate of £800 (£250 paid so far)ber so this only the balance for the Expedition

Special 2

Total: £500 Comments:
Special 2 p.p.: £11 Fees paid to Bar to use an area for office re surveying drawing, record keeping etc etc - £500
Exped Total: £37,985 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £905
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £436
Mean Exped cost per person: £863

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
NOTE: the majority of costs are born by the expedition members - this is complicated as some travel with partners etc. so splitting the cost is problematic the above is a best "guesstimate" - also above does not take account of cost of all the trips at other times to look in the area for leads etc. Note also that the period is split and I have separated these in the
costings as travel in the summer is more expensive.
Total shortfall: £37,985 Mean shortfall per person: £863

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Mr Nick Williams
Affiliation: BCRA,

Reason: Nick knows me and other key players of the Expedition including some of the Derbyshire members. I work with Nick in the EUG and he know the experience that the more senior (KOS) of the team can give to younger members. He is also fully aware of the papers and reports the expedition had produced, but is not involved in the Expedition itself.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Peter Hall
Affiliation: Redrose C&PC

Reason: Pete knows me and other key players of the Expedition. He also knows the experience that the more senior members of the team can give to younger members. He is also fully aware of the papers and reports the expedition had produced. Peter has been on the Matienzo experdition in the past (not in 2017), and knows the help it can give to younger cavers on other expedtions.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Phil Papard