Historically, Bude’s Lower Wharf was constructed to allow sailing vessels into the Lower Basin. Back in 1923 the area was a hive of activity as people went about their daily business from the surrounding warehouses that supported the workings of the Bude Canal.
Today, the use of the buildings may have changed, but the Lower Wharf area is still a buzz with people who now enjoy the delicious food both on and off the water from the many cafes and restaurants. Designer makers demonstrate their craft skills and sell beautiful handmade gifts or if you’re feeling energetic you can hire a rowing boat or pedalo and take to the water.
For those wanting a gentler approach, a short flat walk will take you from Falcon Bridge along the side of the canal towards Bude Lock Gates (which are still in operation today) through the harbour and onto Summerleaze Beach. There are plenty of seats to stop and rest a while and watch the world go by with a picnic or an ice cream.
If you’re interested in the Bude Canal, grab a copy of the Canal & Coast Circular Walk. It’s a lovely 5 1/2 mile walk along the canal and back along the coast path. If you would prefer to avoid the coast path, its a 40-minute walk along the tow path, and you can return along the cycle path.
Suggested Walking Route From the Bude Tourist Information Centre
On leaving the Bude Tourist Information Centre (1), follow the canal (make sure the water is on your left). On the other side of the canal you’ll see the Old Lifeboat House (2) which is now four lovely holiday apartments.
Walk towards Falcon Bridge (3). Historically, this was a fully operational swing bridge which allowed the passing of boats.
Below you on the right you’ll see Bude Canoe Experience (4). Join a session and explore the canal, see wildlife, and practice a variety of canoeing skills.
Head over to the Brendon Arms (5) and Falcon Hotel (6) to your left. If you pop in for food or a drink, you’ll learn about their history and see a display of old photographs and pictures on the walls.
As you leave, take Church Path on the left to St Michael’s Church (7). Built in 1834 – 1835, the graveyard is testimony to this treacherous coast which has always had a fearful reputation among mariners.
Continue along the unmade path (which can get muddy and uneven). You’ll see Efford Cottage (8) (the Pink House). Go up the steps on the left and follow the tarmac path. It’s a five-minute walk uphill (with plenty of benches along the way) to Compass Point (9), where you’ll be rewarded with amazing views.
Return the way you came and go left onto the tarmac path to the Lime Kilns under the cliff and the Breakwater (10) which was first built in 1819. The structure you see now dates to 1839 following storm damage to the original.
At the end of the Breakwater you’ll see Chapel and Barrel Rock (a Chapel was sited here in the Middle Ages). A hermitage housed a light that was used to guide vessels safely into the harbour. Bude’s name was originally recorded as ‘Bede’s Haven’, ‘bede’, being an old Saxon word with religious connotations.
Now head back to the Sea Lock (11) (which is one of only two in Britain). If the tide is right, you can walk down the steps and over the little footbridge onto Summerleaze Beach (12) and over to the famous Bude Sea Pool.
The Barge (13) is a lovely floating eatery which changes position in the winter so it may be located further down by The Boat House (16).
Atlantic Glass Studio (14) is full of lovely crafts, so is well worth a visit. There’s an interesting (but small) history display within the Old Forge (15).
The Boat House (16) hire rowing boats and pedalos if you would like to explore the canal a little further inland.
Walk between the Library and Fire Station, heading to the Bude Light sculpture (17).
Head to The Bude Castle Heritage Centre (18) and learn about Bude’s interesting history and the significance of the Bude Light. Upstairs (with lift access), there are gallery and exhibition spaces and a cafe with panoramic views of the beach and harbour.
Turn right as you leave The Castle, taking the path past the Bandstand. Bear left as you approach The Boat House (16) and head over to the red doors of the Bark House, which is now home to The Kitchen Front and 1940’s Tea Room (19).