Bude is Cornwall’s most northerly town and has been a popular seaside resort since Victorian times. This dramatic stretch of coastline has long been known for its unusual geology, shipwrecks, excellent surfing and outstanding nature beauty. Today Bude is a lovely get-away which is often missed on the usual tourist trail as people bypass it heading to the more well-known places further south.
There is plenty to see and do here, however and in summer the town really comes alive. Bude itself is compact and friendly, the shops, cosy cafes and Edwardian hotels are all set back a little from the sea, sheltering behind the grassy dunes. If just soaking up the fresh sea air, eating ice cream and watching the gulls’ acrobatics isn’t quite enough for you then there lots of attractions in and around the town to keep you happy. Whether you are on a day out or a family holiday I have it covered for you. Below are my top choices:
Splashing in the Sea Pool
Bude’s 91m long semi-natural Sea Pool was first opened in 1930 to provide safe swimming for everyone. It is one of very few tidal pools remaining open across the country. For the less confident swimmer or those with young children this is an ideal haven away from the Atlantic rollers. Swimming is free and there are floatation aids available, deck chairs and brightly painted beach huts for hire! Perfect! http://www.budeseapool.org/
Mucking about in boats
The Bude canal was built in 1823 used to run for 35 miles transporting goods to the nearby town of Launceston. These days just a few miles are navigable but you can hire boats and pedalos for an hour or two or even the whole day to go exploring. The canal has plenty of wildlife to spot and you can go fishing for rudd, roach, bream and carp in the waters. http://www.budeboathire.co.uk/
Being right on the sea means that whatever the season there is always something to do, whether it is watching the waves crashing over the breakwater during a winter storm or dipping your toes in the waves. The beaches in and around Bude provide not only some of the best surfing in the county but some of the best swimming opportunities too. The town’s main beach is popular with families for its soft sands and clean water. Further south along the coast Widemouth Bay is famous for its ideal surfing and body-boarding conditions and there are businesses running surfing lessons and life guard cover during the summer months. Jump right in! http://www.ravensurf.co.uk/
The entire coastline from Bude to Pentire Point is a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). In the other direction it is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). So walking from here in either direction offers stunning views, fascinating geology and ample chance to escape the crowds. Dramatic cliffs, fossils and spectacular rock formations are all evidence of the areas ancient past. Bude even has its own unique fossilised fish species (a toothy, goldfish-sized critter called Cornuboniscus budensis) found nowhere else in the world. Fancy finding out more? Then a two hour Geological Walk with local geologist Dr Roger Higgs is available all year round. Currently on Thursday afternoon at 2pm, from Bude Tourist Information Centre. £15 adults, £8 children. Advance booking required.
Temple of the Winds
High above the beach and town Compass Point offers spectacular views in all directions. Once an old coastguard lookout the unusual structure was built in 1840 by the Acland family. The little octagonal building has the compass points inscribed in the sandstone around the top. Its design was meant to have been based on the Temple of the winds in Athens. The perfect spot for a picnic.
Life on the edge
Taking advantage of what nature has provided in abundance there are plenty of opportunities in the area of rock-climbing and abseiling. Compass Point, Maer Cliffs and Northcott Mouth are all popular locations but it is always better to seek advice from local experts before attempting any climb. A range of courses are available from beginners to confident climbers.
Built by the Cornish inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830 this castellated mansion overlooks Summerleaze Beach. Gurney’s claim to fame is that he was the first man to make a lengthy journey in a mechanical vehicle. He drove a steam carriage from London to Bath and back. You can find out more in the quirky heritage centre. There are also displays on geology with plenty of fascinating fossils, dramatic shipwrecks and local history including the Battle of Stratton. In the 19th century Bude was notorious for its wreckers. It saw more than 80 wrecks in less than 50 years, between 1824 and 1874, and foul play was suspected. Besides the museum the castle also houses a gallery displaying local artists, a café and gift shop. http://thecastlebude.org.uk/
Best of the Rest
Why not save your legs and try something new. Jump on a Segway for a whole new way of seeing the beautiful countryside surrounding Bude.
Feel like the ultimate in pampering? The W Club offers Spa Days with Hot Stone Massages, Facials and use of the gym, Jacuzzi and pool. http://www.wclubwhalesborough.co.uk/
For lots more Bude related information pop over to VisitBude