A unique cave

"El Soplao" region

1978 saw the end of a hundred and twenty years of the blende and galena mining that has shaped the current landscape of the Sierra de Arnero mountains, a prolongation of El Escudo mountain 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 in the mine's tunnels which, although now abandoned, still bear the echoes of their footprints, their words, their hopes and dreams, and also their hard work and effort.

"El Soplao" (the blown) is a mining term that refers to the blowing air that is felt when perforating a tunnel from another one with less oxygen.

It was discovered by miners in 1908 approximately, when perforating the tunnel called "La Isidra", whose entrance is through "El Prao Collao" of Celis which 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 Picos de Europa mountain range can also be seen. Opposite to us we see the hills of Hozalba and just behind them, Peñasagra; to the south-east the Sierra del Cordel mountains and the Pico Tres Mares.

The Sierra de Arnero mountains, which span several thousands of hectares, is mostly formed by terrain covered by community forests and meadows, 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 there are tiny, well-kept villages with the traditional rural architecture of Cantabria. It is excellently communicated, with connections to the motorway 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 come to El Soplao, friends, do not limit your visit to the Cave, one of the greatest international monuments of geology.

Make the most of your visit and enjoy 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 right next to the enormous cultural and architectural heritage of the villages of Cosío, San Sebastián de Garabandal, Tudanca and Carmona.

El Soplao cave, discovered in the early 20th century.

El Soplao cave, discovered in the early 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 speleology paradise (helictites, stalactites, stagmalites, gorges, columns, cave pearls, dog-tooth spars, etc).

An unique cave

El Soplao is a treasure for all those who visit it. Visitors can explore it during an overwhelming route due to the abundance, spectacularity and diversity of its helictite formations, which are what makes El Soplao "a unique cave".

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

In addition to 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 outside: 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.