St. Nectan's Kieve – Cornwall, England - Atlas Obscura

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St. Nectan's Kieve

A unique waterfall that some believe attracts the fairfolk. 


St. Nectan’s Kieve in Cornwall is a site not just of great geological interest, but also of near magical beauty.

The kieve, or basin, at the bottom of the 60-foot waterfall is 20-feet deep and is rounded smoothly like an immense sugar bowl. The force of the falling water has, over the ages, broken away the front, creating an arch that the falls now pass through.

Above it, at different levels, can be traced the remains of at least three former basins, rounded out, and broken away in front. Below the present basin, where the water falls onto the slate rock below, a hollow is being formed, which, according to the experts, will be about the depth of a saucer in about 300 years time. Ruins of a hermitage attributed to St. Nectan are also at the top of the falls.

The site is believed by some to be a place where fairies and other mythic creatures gather. Sometimes crystals, ribbons, and other offerings are left in small shrines at the site as a sort of clootie well — a Celtic tradition of leaving tributes near water sources. These sacred sites can be found around the United Kingdom, a pagan tradition that still thrives in these quiet forest corners.

Know Before You Go

There are two parking areas on the B3263 very close to the walking path to the waterfall. There is an entry fee payable once you reach the waterfalls.

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