This historically rich walk is filled with varied scenery and panoramic views. The level path follows the Bude Canal, a remarkable relic of 19th century engineering, to its terminal as a barge waterway.
The wide open views from the fields of Whalesborough overlooking Widemouth Bay and the rugged cliffline to the south are without doubt, breath-taking, especially when the surf pounds the coast. Then there are the clifftops with their dramatic, geological formations, leading you to views overlooking Bude, its bay, and beyond to Hartland and Exmoor.
The route begins at the canal adjacent to the Bude Tourist Information Centre car park. We suggest you purchase a minimum of four-hours parking, this should allow you time to stop for a coffee enroute.
Walk inland along the towpath with the water on your right. The building on the other side of the canal was once warehouses.
Continue through the gates passing resting post Lestriva (shipyard). The red brick building on your right once housed a steam laundry.
Shortly on your left you will pass Bude Marshes and resting post Godhvewnans (wildlife). Stop at the bird hide as the area is a rich habitat for all sorts of wildlife.
Continue past Truscotts Bridge (which crosses the River Neet) and resting post Krowshyns (crossroads). After passing resting post Nans Bud (Bude Valley) you will see the mile-post ‘Bude 1’.
Go through the gate and cross Rodds Bridge. Continue along the canal bank and pass resting post Avon (river). The water is now on your left. Note the site of the old lock gates and change in water levels. Pass resting post Gwdhyel (woodland). The small footbridge on your right leads to a walk through community woodland (the route is not well marked and is often overgrown).
Remain on the tow path and pass the second lock gate and weir where the canal widens and deepens.
Pass resting post Skathow-Kibel (tub boats) and turn right through a gate just before the bridge signposted Widemouth Bay. Skirt the perimeter of the lake (which is used to breed fish to stock the canal). Ahead you will see the Weir Café, but turn left through a gateway leading to fields.
Once through this gate, follow the rutted path as it curves up towards the hedge on the far right with a gate. Cross the next field and aim towards the left of the trees visible on the skyline.
Go through the gate and keep to the left and pass through the gate ahead. Note the rounded beach stones used in the hedge.
Head across the next large field with extensive views of Widemouth Bay and the coast.
Go through the gap in the far hedge. Skirt the right edge of the field to a gate at the roadside.
Cross the main road with care and bear right to join the South West Coast Path.
Continue with the sea on your left, keeping to the path as the cliff edges are often dangerously undermined.
Follow the way marker posts and enjoy the panoramic views over the coast and town. Notice the large satellite dishes at GCHQ Cleave Camp near Morwenstow in the distance.
Continue ahead and descend gently, passing Phillips’s Point nature reserve. Stay on the coast path passing through a kissing gate and into the cliff top fields. At the second kissing gates you enter Efford Down.
Head for the gap in the next hedge, then bear left uphill to the trig-mark (a concrete pillar used for triangulation) on the highest point.
Walk downhill towards a kissing gate in the stone field boundary. Follow the path to the Storm Tower (Compass Point). The land may be fenced off to allow grazing as this encourages the return of short maritime grassland, which creates a valuable habitat for native plants, birds and insects but is always accessible to walkers.
Proceed downhill to the waymarker above the Breakwater. Turn right along the path and go through the gate signed ‘Town Centre’. Go down the steps and cross the sea-lock gates.
Walk along the canal with the water on your right. You will pass several craft workshops units, cafes and shops. Here you can bear left towards Bude Castle and the town centre or continue ahead to the Tourist Information Centre.
The Lower Wharf and Harbour Guide (available from the Bude TIC) is dedicated to this area of the canal.