Magical sea cave
The cave in Holywell Bay, also known as St Cubert or St Cuthbert’s well, is actually a natural cave carved out by the action of the waves. The colourful walls of the cave are white, blue, red, green and purple. They are formed by freshwater full of minerals seeping and dripping down, forming stalactites. You can only visit the cave at very low tide when the entrance is exposed.
St Cuthbert’s touch
One legend suggests that Cubert was named after St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, in northern England, whose relics (bones) were removed in the year 995 to prevent them from being stolen from Viking raiders. While the escaping monks were trying to sail to Ireland their boat blew off course and ended up in Cornwall. When they left, it was said that Cuthbert’s holy remains touched the waters of the cave, giving them magical powers.
Another legend is based on a Welshman called St Cubert. He is said to have come to Cornwall to convert local people to Christianity in the 700s. The holy well, a spring bubbling up from the ground in Trevornick Holiday Park, was possibly the site of Cubert’s baptisms and an early gathering place before a chapel was later built.
There are many descriptions of people travelling from miles around to receive the healing powers of Cubert’s wells, particularly mothers who brought sick children hoping for a cure. The holy well at Trevornick was restored in 1936 and is cared for by the Newquay Old Cornwall Society.
Did you know?
Mabel Quiller-Couch wrote the first history of Cornwall’s holy wells in 1894. In it, she described Cubert’s sea cave holy well as being so popular in ancient times that “incredible numbers” travelled there from distant countries.
Stalactite means “that which drips” in Greek. The stalactites hanging from the ceiling of St Cubert’s sea cave are full of calcium and have an icy, glassy feel. The coloured veins in the cave walls are caused by the other minerals present in the water.