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A unique cave

"El Soplao" Region

1978 saw the end of twenty years of mining the blende and galena that has shaped the current landscape of the Sierra de Arnero mountains, a prolongation of the Escudo range that separates the western coast of Cantabria from the District of Saja and Cabuérniga, and also the origin of culture and mining traditions in the towns of Valdáliga and the District of Nansa. It is not hard to find people from Bustriguado, Labarces, Rábago, Bielba, Roiz, Celis, Camijanes, Cabanzón and many other towns at the foot of the mountain of La Florida whose fathers or grandfathers spent many years of their lives working inthe mine's tunnels, which although now abandoned, still bear the echoes of their footprints, their words and their hopes and dreams, and also their hard work and effort.

"El Soplao"
is a mining term that refers to the air that is felt when perforating a tunnel from another with less oxygen, hence the name of the cave.

It was discovered by miners in around 1908, when perforating the tunnel called "La Isidra", whose entrance is through "El Prao Collao" of Celis. This is flanked by the heights of El Táladro and Pico Hugón and has the most marvellous views one can imagine. The coast of Asturians fans out from west to south, and the mountains of Sierra del Cuera, Peñamellera, el Naranjo de Bulnes and the Central Massif of the Picos de Europa can also be seen. Opposite are the hills of Hozalba and just behind them, Peñasagra, to the south-east of the Sierra del Cordel mountains and Pico Tres Mares.

The Sierra de Arnero range, which spans several thousands of hectares, is mostly formed by terrain covered by common forest land and meadows, which also belong to the townships, where hundreds of head of sheep, cattle and horses graze. No human intervention is visible, except for the ancient remains of the mines and some old shepherd huts. On both sides are tiny, well-kept villages with the traditional rural architecture of Cantabria. There are excellent communications, with connections to the dual carriageway of Cantabria, passing through Los Tánagos-Pesués, on the way to Puentenansa. Another road is now being built to connect El Soplao with the motorway at Roiz and Villanueva de Labarces.

When you reach El Soplao, friends, do not limit your visit to the Cave, one of the greatest international monuments of geology.

Take advantage of your visit to see the beautiful, natural, geo-mining environment, using the marvellous network of trails and drover roads. Then continue your excursion along either of the two routes, that of the coast and that of Nansa, to the nearby towns of San Vicente de la Barquera, Comillas, Unquera and Cabezón de la Sal or to the south, to Nansa and Saja.

From Puente El Arrudo you can explore the attractive towns of Cades, with its restored forge and mill, Lamasón, Casamaría and Cabanzón which extend towards the neighbouring region of Asturias. Visitors should know that Puentenansa is a point of connection with the Cantabrian valleys of Cabuérniga, Polaciones and Liébana and just a short distance from the enormous cultural and architectural heritage of the villages of Cosío, San Sebastián de Garabandal, Tudanca and Carmona.

"El Soplao" Cave, discovered at the beginning of the 20th century

El Soplao Cave, discovered at the beginning of the 20th century when the mines of La Florida were being operated, is considered to be one of the greatest wonders of geology, and a true paradise for potholers (eccentrics, stalactites, stagmalites, gorges, columns, cave pearls, dog-tooth spars, etc).

a unique cave

El Soplao is a treasure for all those who visit it. They can explore it during a route that is surprising due to the abundance, spectacularity and diversity of its eccentric formations, which are what make El Soplao "A Unique Cave".

A true play of shadows and lights and a festival of sensations.

Apart from its enormous geological value, the cave and its surroundings contain an exceptional industrial and archaeological heritage, with more than 20 km of tunnels. The mining activity has also left its mark on the exterior: derricks, calcining furnaces, washing facilities, workshops, etc. The mining work was dedicated to the extraction of blende and galena, two of the best ores for obtaining zinc and plomo, respectively.