St Nectan's Glen // Tintagel

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St Nectan's Glen
St Nectan's Glen

St Nectan's Glen is a picturesque wooded valley in Trethevy, just outside Tintagel. Over the millennia the Trevillet River has carved its way through the local Devonian slate forming the valley. This is the same river that flows through the nearby Rocky Valley before cascading into the Atlantic Ocean.

Probably the best known feature of the Glen is Saint Nectan’s Kieve, a stunning waterfall that plunges 60 foot (18 m) to a deep rock basin below and onwards through a natural arch in the rocks.

The valley is named after the sixth-century celtic Saint Nectan who is said to have lived here. Legend has it that he built his hermitage cell at the head of the waterfall and here he would ring a silver bell to warn ships of the dangerous rocks at the mouth of the Rocky Valley. It is also said that St Nectan was buried under the riverbed of the Trevillet.

Today St Nectan's Kieve is considered to be a sacred site by many. Visitors from far and wide come to hang ribbons on the branches of trees around the waterfall which is believed to have healing powers. Others leave offerings such as prayers, crystals and photographs near the kieve and many visitors build small rock piles or "fairy stacks" with the flat slates found in the river. Regardless of what you believe St Nectan's Glen is a beautiful, tranquil place with a very magical feel.

St Nectan's Glen was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1985 to help preserve this valuable wildlife habitat. Rare mosses and liverworts can be found along the valley and dippers nest in the rocks near the waterfall.

St Nectan's Glen is privately owned and whilst it is free to visit the glen there is a charge for visiting the waterfall. The owner states that this money goes towards the upkeep of St Nectan's and there are certainly signs of investment such as a new walkway to the head of the waterfall, none of which have spoilt the charm of the glen.