Bude hides itself away in the far north of Cornwall on the Atlantic Heritage Coast. A seaside resort with fine beaches and magnificent coastal scenery, merging with a sparsely populated hinterland of unspoilt countryside.
For many years, Bude epitomised the traditional English family holiday resort, served by road, and, in the heyday of rail travel, by the "Atlantic Coast Express" (1922 - 1966), leaving London Waterloo daily for destinations along the Atlantic Coast between Ilfracombe, in Devon, and Padstow, in Cornwall. Today many visitors find their way to Bude along the scenic "Atlantic Highway" from Junction 27 Tiverton on the M5, via the North Devon Link Road past Bideford and then down the A39 coast road, known as the "Atlantic Highway".
The town has changed little over the years but. Today offers the visitor a lot more than the traditional 'bucket and spade' holiday of yesteryear. It is an ideal location for a short break at any time of year, providing magnificent coast and country walks and unspoilt rural landscapes in which to discover traditional, rural villages, that reflect the "real" way of life of North Cornwall. In high summer, there are magnificent sandy beaches for families, whilst the coastal area around Bude provides some of the finest conditions for surfers in the West Country.
The excellent beaches to be found in Bude have ample lifeguard cover during the summer months, this being the home of England's very first Surf Life Saving Club, formed in 1953. Bude also has one of the only two working sea locks in Europe. The lock is the entrance to the now disused Bude Canal, which once carried tub boats full of lime rich sea sand inland to farms, and goods on the return journey down to a bustling commercial harbour. The canal rises some ninety-nine metres above sea level in the first six miles of its journey inland.
Much of the remnants of this masterpiece of Victorian engineering, built in 1819, can still be seen, further information on the Bude Canal will be found in the Museum situated on the Wharf at the sea end of the canal. There are, currently, ambitious plans under consideration to part re-water the seaward end of the canal, and to provide circular walks through the canal hinterland. Interpretation displays are planned for the sites of the various inclined plains, which once transported the tub boats ever higher above sea level on their journey inland.
Bude has a pleasant town centre filled with a wide variety of shops. There is a wealth of serviced, self-catering accommodation and near at hand, caravan and camping parks which can be booked through the Bude Visitor Information Centre.
Some annual Bude events to note:
- Jazz Festival - end of August
- Re-enactment of the Battle of Stamford Hill - early May
BUDE - Coastal Path
The high cliffs along the coast, in the vicinity of Bude, provide for exhilarating walking with breathtaking and dramatic seascapes, along with fascinating rock formations of great interest to geologists.
Much of the coastline between Morwenstow, to the north of Bude, and Boscastle, to the south, is owned by the National Trust or managed by the North Cornwall Heritage Coast and Countryside Service. The cliff top flowers are at there very best in late May to early June, such colours, and such variety, ranging from the pink of clumps of Sea Thrift to the purple of heather with the delicious and pungent aroma of wild garlic, often displayed against a background of yellow gorse. The coastal villages near Bude are joined by part of the 500 mile long South West Coastal Path, which rises to a spectacular 700 feet above sea level at The Strangles, near Crackington Haven. These coastal waters are ideal for observing a variety of sea birds and catching a glimpse of seals and the occasional dolphin.
This sparsely populated area of North Cornwall provides a haven for wildlife and is an area of great potential for the amateur naturalist. Look out for foxes, badgers, rabbits, voles, deer and otter. For the ornithologist, as well as sea birds, there are areas, such as the Bude Marshes and Tamar Lakes (near Kilkhampton), which provide over-wintering for ducks, geese, snipe, and water rail, plus many other species that make these quiet expanses of water their permanent home. Keep a keen eye open for buzzards and owls.