Bude in Cornwall on the South West Coast Path

Bude with its sandy beaches is a popular seaside resort for family holidays, surfers and walkers who have a choice of walks along the South West Coast Path. When booking to stay in this area, I recommend bed & breakfastat the Racehorse Inn.

The small resort of Bude in North Cornwall spreads around two sandy beaches, Summerleaze and Crooklets, both popular surfing areas. They stretch back from a small harbour, the Haven, beside the small River Neet.

South West Coast Path at Bude

North and south of the surfing beaches, which are fringed by rocks, the South West Coast Path runs along grassy cliff tops.

Altogether the path stretches for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset, offering walkers spectacular coastal views all the way.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney Lived at Bude

Bude was the home of a leading Victorian inventor, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who lived in the Castle. It is now a museum.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney is very much Cornwall’s ‘forgotten inventor’. A section of the museum is devoted to his life and work, including models of some of his ground-breaking inventions which included a steam carriage and limelight.

Bude Canal and Sea Lock

At the beginning of the 19th century, before the harbour silted up, Bude’s busy little port imported and exported all kinds of cargoes – brick, coal, limestone, timber, wool and wheat.

At that time too a canal was built heading inland, mainly to transport the beach’s lime-rich sand to fertilise poor soil.

Bude Canal was 35 Miles Long

Originally the canal stretched for 35 miles but when the railways were built, canal trade became uneconomic and it closed in 1891. In recent years, two miles of it have been restored; including a sea lock which is one of only two such locks in Europe. It enabled boats to ‘lock in’ to a proper quayside rather than load and unload their cargoes on the beach.

A long breakwater was built along the Haven to protect the canal from the incoming tide. It stretches out to Chapel Rock where in medieval times a light on a chapel and hermit cell guided ships into the Haven. Overlooking the Sea Lock, the impressive white Falcon Hotel, the town’s most prestigious place to stay, was built in 1825 as a coaching house.

Walking on the South West Coast Path across Effort Down

Walking southwards along the South West Path walkers soon pass a curious eight-sided octagonal tower standing on the cliff top. Nicknamed the ‘pepper pot’, it was built in Victorian times as a coastguard’s hut and modelled on the Temple of the Winds in Athens.

Beyond it, three headlands jutting out into the sea are landmarks in the misty distance while the grey-blue Atlantic waves pound the rocky shore below the sandstone cliffs. During the 14th century this was a particularly hazardous stretch of coast for ships because of pirates and wreckers.

Battle of Stamford Hill

Continuing south, the path crosses Efford Down. Here in 1643, during the Civil War, Cornishmen in the Royalist Army camped on the eve of the battle of Stamford Hill before winning a famous victory.

This was fought nearby at Stratton and defeated the Parliamentarians despite being outnumbered by two to one.

Bude Canal

The Bude Canal initially runs parallel to the River Neet with Bude Marshes nature reserve between them. Here a variety of wild flowers flourishes and many species of birds come to nest. In spring, early migratory birds like warblers and sand martins arrive, followed by reed buntings and willow warblers which nest in the reeds.

Beside the Bude Canal towpath at Rodd’s Bridge one of the old stone mile-posts, dating from around 1820, can still be seen. These once marked the whole length of the canal, erected to enable toll charge to be calculated.

Bude and its Beaches for Everyone

So with its beaches, surfing and walking, Bude certainly has plenty to offer holidaymakers of all ages and interests.

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