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St Nectan's Glen; The best hidden gem in Cornwall

Updated: Jan 3

When you think of waterfalls, you think of countries like Iceland and Canada etc, not the UK! Especially when this hidden beauty of a waterfall is in Cornwall! We stumbled across this hidden gem back in 2018, when it was *really* hidden.


It’s obviously grown in popularity, due to the rise of social media as well as the COVID-19 lockdown; forcing everybody to travel in the UK. However, you’d be surprised at how many people still don’t know about this place!


If you're ready to discover St Nectan's Glen, a mysterious and spiritual woodland home to the 60-foot-tall St Nectan's Kieve waterfall, then continue reading to learn more about the trail and some other helpful details you should be aware of before your visit.


St Nectan’s Glen History


Northeast of Tintagel in north Cornwall's Trethevy is St. Nectan's Glen, a stunning old forest. About 1 mile of the River Trevillet is covered by the forest. The 60-foot (18-meter) tall St. Nectan's Kieve waterfall is the highlight of the woodland walk. The original basin (kieve), through which the waterfall now cascades, has been punched by the water, making it special. How cool is that?


Many visitors to St Nectan's Glen think it is one of the most spiritual places in the UK. As a result, as you walk along the trail, you'll see numerous small stone piles along with ribbons and crystals strung from tree branches.


The area around the waterfall is home to two rare moss species and two rare liverwort species. Since 1985, the region has been recognized as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of these unique plant specimens.

How to get to St Nectans Glen


By Public Transport (Train/Bus): I suggest taking the train to Truro if you're traveling from a further distance. London, Penzance, Exeter, and Plymouth all have train service to and from them. Take Bus 95 to Trethevy from that location. Please be aware that the bus travels to Trethevy in about 2 hours and 20 minutes.


Buses 95, 181, and 212 run between Truro, Wadebridge, Camelford, Bodmin, and Bude if you're traveling by public transportation. At the bus stop called "Bus Shelter" in front of the parking lots, you can get off and begin your woodland stroll right away.


By Car: Two parking options are available just off the B3263 if you're arriving by car. Since neither parking lot is very large, you might have trouble finding a space if you arrive later in the day. We parked at a layby further down the road because we were unable to find a spot. Please be aware that the official parking lots charge £3 per day.


Entry fee for St Nectans Glen


Sadly, there is a fee to see the St. Nectan's Glen waterfall, but it is free to explore the surrounding woodland. We paid £5.95 for each adult admission in 2018. However, after checking their website, the price has increased to £7.45 for adults and £4.95 for kids.


Fortunately, you don't have to purchase your ticket online. Simply show up on the day of the event and buy a ticket from the gift shop or café. St. Nectan's Glen is open from 9AM to 5PM during the summer. In the summer, the last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing (so 4:30PM). The winter hours are 10AM to 4PM.


Visit the website for more details on admission costs and season-specific opening times.


St. Nectan's Glen is accessible throughout the year. The woodland will likely be lush and green in the spring and summer, but you'll be able to see the vibrant leaves in the fall, in our opinion. Your walk might be more muddy and the weather might not be as pleasant during the winter, in our opinion. To experience the waterfall's full force, you might want to visit it after a period of more intense rain.


What to wear when visiting St Nectans Glen


We advise dressing comfortably and bringing layers with you, depending on the time of year you're visiting. Although the trail is generally in good condition, it can occasionally be uneven. The trail may become muddy and hazardous in some places due to rain. Therefore, we also advise putting on a pair of comfortable walking shoes, boots, or sandals.


We recommend wearing water-resistant footwear because you'll need to cross the river barefoot or just taking off your shoes. If so, you might want to bring a small towel with you so you can later dry your feet!


Completing the Circular Walk of St Nectans Glen


The point-to-point St. Nectan's Glen walk is a 3 km route. This route might take about 2 hours, depending on how quickly you go or how long you spend at the waterfall. If you are able to park in the designated parking lot, kindly be aware that the route is a point-to-point one.


Unfortunately, we were unable to, so we were forced to park further down the main road. This meant that the least safe way to get to the trailhead was to walk along the main road for about 0.5 km. As a result, we chose to take a circular route and return along a much less busy neighborhood road. This extended our original route by an additional km (0.16 miles), but it was much safer.


Is the walk difficult?


The St. Nectan's Glen woodland walk is easy, in our opinion. There will be a few signs and other people along the route, and the path is straightforward to follow. A few tree roots may protrude here and there, and the path may be rocky and uneven. Therefore it’s worth putting on appropriate footwear. You'll be shielded from the sun and the rain because the trail travels through a wooded area (perhaps not from a downpour of biblical proportions!).


In order to view the waterfall, you'll probably need to wade through the River Trevillet. Your shoes might get a little wet depending on how much rain fell before your visit, and the rocks themselves can be slippery.


What’s around St Nectans Glen


After visiting St. Nectan's Glen, if you want to grab a snack or a drink, stop by the Tree of Life Café. Drinks, snacks, cakes, and lunches are all available in abundance at the café. The seasonally varying, homemade ingredients are all sourced locally.


You can have a picnic next to the waterfall on a beautiful summer day. The vicinity of the waterfall isn't particularly large, so it might feel a little congested. In close proximity to the Tree of Life Café are restrooms. To buy a souvenir or a gift, there is also a store and gallery.


Our final thoughts on St Nectans Glen


The answer to the question of whether St. Nectan's Glen in Cornwall is the best kept secret is, we believe, a mixed bag. We believe that the retreat opportunity and social media have increased interest in this location.


Additionally, we believe that a few people might decide against going because of the limited parking. But given how quickly information about hidden gems like St. Nectan's Glen can spread on social media, we think its popularity will grow even further.


St. Nectan's Kieve is such a distinctive waterfall that we believe it is worth visiting. So, is it worth going to see it? Definitely! You might easily forget that you're still in the UK because the woodland is so lovely and the entire area exudes such a happy vibe thanks to all the ribbons and rocks.


Let us know in the comments below if you've ever been to St. Nectan's Glen or Cornwall in general, and how much of the region you managed to explore.


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