THESE amazing pictures show the inside of a mysterious, forgotten cave — thought to have secret healing powers.
Holywell Cave, also known as St Cuthbert’s Cave, was once famed with people travelling from around the world to see it.
It has been hidden away from the public for several years but has now been shown off in all its glory by a series of images taken by photographer Greg Martin.
At the entrance, steps were carved into the rock which led down to the cavern below where there is a natural spring.
Legend has it that disabled people would leave their crutches behind at the foot of the cave after drinking the water from the cave near Newquay, Cornwall.
The cave is set in the south-west corner of Kelsey Head, and can be accessed at low tide from the northeast end of the beach at Holywell Bay.
The cave is described as ‘surreal’ and a ‘multi-coloured grotto’ by Greg.
He said: ‘As the sea cave floods completely, it is very important to only visit it at low tide, and to be aware of the incoming sea.
‘It is also advisable to not visit the cave alone, and to take a bright torch to see all the magnificent colours hidden in the darkness.’
Inside the cave, rocks have turned a vivid red, green, blue and yellow thanks to water passing through mineral deposits above the cave.
As rainwater passes through the ground above it becomes a weak carbonic acid from the limestone deposits.
This acid dissolves the calcite in the rock, forming calcium bicarbonate, which, mixed in the rainwater, drips down into the cave creating a natural spring.
The cave was documented in the 1894 book Ancient Holy Wells of Cornwall, written by Mabel Quiller-Couch.
She wrote about how in 995 AD, the bishop of Lindisfarne, Aldhun, was transporting the skeletal remains of St Cuthbert, one of the most important medieval saints in the north of England.
He was bound for Ireland, but his ship was blown off course and ended up on the north coast of Cornwall.
Aldhun settled in Cornwall long enough to build a church dedicated to St Cuthbert, a mile or so in from the coast of Holywell Bay, in what is now the village of Cubert.
But eventually an oracle instructed Aldhun that he must return the relics of St Cuthbert to Durham, and as he was leaving from Holywell Bay, the saint’s bones touched the side of the well, giving the spring its magical healing powers.
Another book, John Cardell Oliver’s Guide to Newquay from 1877, gives us a detailed description of the cave from that era.
The book reads: ‘It is a somewhat curious place. After passing over a few boulders the mouth of the cave will be reached, where steps will be found leading up to the well.
‘This rock-formed cistern is of a duplicate form, consisting of two wells, having a communication existing between them.
‘The supply of water is from above; and this water, being of a calcareous nature, has coated the rock with its earthy deposits, giving to the surrounding walls and to the well itself a variegated appearance of white, green and purple.
‘Above and beyond the well will be seen a deep hole extending into the cliff.’
The popularity of St Cuthbert’s Cave is recorded as early as 1685, by William Hals in his History of Cornwall, which he compiled from until 1736.
In his book, Hals writes: ‘In this parish is that famous and well-known spring of water called Holy-well (so named the inhabitants say, for that the virtues of this water was first discovered on Allhallows- day).
‘The same stands in a dark cavern of the sea- cliff’ rocks, beneath full sea-mark on spring-tides; from the top of which cavern foils down or distils continually drops of water, from the white, blue, red, and green veins of those rocks.
‘And accordingly, in the place where those drops of waterfall, it swells to a lump of considerable bigness, and there petrifies to the hardness of ice, glass, or freestone, of the several colours aforesaid, according to the nature of those veins in the rock from whence it proceeds, and is of a hard brittle nature, apt to break like glass.’