Bude on the North Cornwall Coast is a charming little resort town. Its beaches are great for the family, as well as for the surfers amongst you. Fish and sail on the Canal, admire the imposing lock gates. Watch the sun set over the breakwater-from a safe distance of course- in gales the Atlantic waves break right over the top of it. Lots of places to stay from Bude bed and breakfast to holiday parks to self catering cottages.
Bude Haven provides the only safe harbour for many miles along the North Cornish Coast. Vessels have been trading here from at least the Middle Ages. Schooners, ketches and barges plying as far away as the Bristol Channel Ports. Importing coal and limestone, general goods , exporting grain and oak bark for tanning. With the completion of the Bude Canal in 1825 the Haven began to thrive, so much so that profits from the Canal were used to build a pier (now the breakwater). There was even a shipyard and a sawmill.
The canal was in two sections: a traditional barge canal, for 2 miles inland from the Sea Lock to Helebridge; then a tub boat canal section inland with branches to Holsworthy and towards Launceston. Each tub boat had 4 wheels enabling it to be raised onto rails on incline planes, instead of the more usual series of lock gates. The main cargo for these tub boats was sea sand, used as an agricultural fertilizer on farms inland. Water for the canal came along an aqueduct fed from a reservoir now known as Upper Tamar Lake. Currently there are exciting proposals to restore navigation as far inland as Helebridge.
The coming of the railways, the London and South Western Railway reached the town in 1898, led to the demise of the Canal. The last cargo was discharged in the Port in the 1940's The Bude-Stratton Museum on Lower Wharf has a series of interesting exhibits showing the history of the area, including shipwrights tools and many evocative black and white photographs. Some show a ketch entering the Canal Basin in 1910, others tub boats lying alongside the then abandoned canal. The Railway did bring yet more prosperity to the Area, with excursions bringing holidaymakers aboard the Atlantic Coast Express daily in season from Waterloo in the 1920's and 1930's. Beeching cuts finally closed the Railway in 1966 but the town continues to thrive as a popular holiday destination, with a growing reputation for activity and adventure sports.
Follow the Canal towpath inland; explore the countryside as you go. Hidden in a fold in the landscape 3 miles away, just peeping out to sea is the beautiful Morwenstow church, the best preserved Norman church in Cornwall. All around is spectacular rugged coastline, great walking country. Unspoiled beaches reached down narrow lanes, with quaint names such as Duckpool and Northcott Mouth, where even in high summer you may have the place all to yourselves. Beautiful Bude
The world famous Bude Jazz Festival is held in Late August. Street parades. Everything from ragtime to Cajun, to brass bands. Further afield north to rugged Hartland Point with fine views on a clear day to Lundy Island, the cobbled streets of Clovelly, or south to Boscastle and Tintagel, and Padstow across the Camel Estuary
Beaches Both Summerleaze and Crooklets beaches are very popular in season. Summerleaze with the canal and breakwater on one side, backed by a short stretch of sand dunes. followed by cliffs with an open-air pool and lots rock pools to explore below. Cafes, beach huts and nearby a public toilet and car park. Good walks south to Widemouth Bay popular with Cornwall Surfers. To the north of Summerleaze is Crooklets Beach, itself only a few minutes walk to the town centre. On Christmas morning several hundred keen individuals, some say mad, dive into the chilly sea, raising huge sums for charity, and turning themselves bright red with the cold in the process.
A few miles north of the town is Sandymouth, nearly two miles of sand at low water backed by pebbles and geologically fascinating cliffs, but take particular care of the tide and, as applies to any beach, do not sit or walk below the cliffs or cliff edges. Rock outcrops provide pools for the children to explore. Reachable by walking down a track and then usually some steps. Popular with kite surfers, which some of you may find annoying particularly when they sometimes inconsiderately scud across the beach forcing you to avoid them.
The North Cornwall coast from Bude past Maer Cliff to Northcott Mouth and Sandymouth and towards Morwenstow provides dramatic views, no more so than Duckpool. Surrounded by high cliffs Duckpool nests in a valley. Warning signs say swimming is dangerous at all times because of currents and rocks- though surfers often ignore this advice. There is a small car park, reachable by a drive down often steep narrow lanes. A Romano- British forge was found by archaeologists in the 1980's immediately behind the beach. Please do not disturb it.
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Cornwall by Cornishlight A Travel Guide with Beautiful Pictures
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Page updated Dec. 2010