The Planekeepers Path
The Planekeepers Path commences from the sea-lock where vessels would leave the open water and enter the Lower Canal Basin to discharge their cargoes into Barges.
At Helebridge the barges were uploaded and transport continued inland my smaller, shallow tub-boats.
The Planekeepers Path follows the route the boatmen took as they tended their cargoes from Bude to the Thurlibeer Inclined Plane.
It then continues through beautiful countryside along footpaths and quiet lanes then heads back to Bude via the ancient town of Stratton.
The Route: Approximately 10 miles, allow 5-6 hours.
From the Sea Lock at Bude head inland along the Lower Canal Basin, and cross the road by Falcon Bridge.
Walk past the Upper Basin and along the Bude Valley, following the canal tow-path as far as Helebridge.
Use the underpass on reaching the A39 main road, then cross over the old canal bridge.
Immediately turn right onto the tow-path, marked Marhamchurch. The building opposite was one of the canal’s stores.
Continue up the slope of the Marhamchurch Inclined Plane to the road and turn left into the village.
Pass the church and follow the street.
At the corner beyond the pub, turn left on the Bridgerule/Holsworthy road and keep straight on to Hobbacott Lane.
At the crossroads, turn left to Stratton
Watch for a gate on the right just before Cann Orchard and rejoin the tow path as it follows the field boundaries.
At the lane turn right, then immediately left into a field. Keep ahead to gate which leads to another wooded embankment.
Bear right across the next field, to a gate on the edge of a wood. The path leads to two crossings and over a small stream. Soon you will come to the base of the Thurlibeer Inclined Plane.
At the top of the slope bear left to a gate, then left again to the road.
Turn right and cross the A3072 main road, keeping to the wide grass verge.
Shortly turn left into fields and follow the path through the yard of Underwood Farm. Keep on the drive.
At the lane turn left uphill, then shortly right – marked to Launcells Church.
Walk through the graveyard to the far left corner directly behind the church. Cross the house drive along a sunken path, then follow the field boundaries heading left into the valley. Cross the footbridge and join the lane.
Turn left and continue as far as Diddies Lane.
Here, just before the bridge, turn left and follow the path as it wends prettily along both sides of the riverbank.
Leave the car park and turn right into the list street. Continue to Spicers Lane passing Treworden Close on your right.
Shortly, turn left into a narrrow path between the cottages which opens up into Gibraltar Square. Leave via the granite archery to the passage (the Drangway).
After seeing the church leave the Lynch Gate and turn right to Cott Hill.
At the junction turn right past the lovely thatched Townsend Cottage, bear left along the road leading out of the village.
Cross the A39 and enter the woods opposite and cross the field to a gate into the woods and follow the path. Bear left through the field to the highest point to see where the Battle of Stamford Hill was fought – then exit the field by the gate in the north-east corner leading to the road.
Cross into the lane opposite and then turn right towards Poughill and Hollabury. Bear right through the houses taking the footpath on the left bordering the fields.
At the golf course bear right along the hedge – then left crossing the fairways. From the golf course car park, head back into Bude along Burn View you will then arrive at the Triangle. Turn right following the river and then left over Nanny Moore’s bridge.
Proceed past the Bude Light and you will soon arrive back at the Canal.
The route will take you through a wide variety of habitats and landscapes making it great for spotting wildlife at any time of year.
The first section along the Bude Canal skirts two wonderful nature reserves, Bude Marshes and Petherick’s Mill Conservation Area.
The reed beds bordering the waterways here are quite rare in Cornwall. They provide an invaluable habitat for our less commonly seen migratory birds and rare plants (see Yellow Crosswort).
As the water is often shallow and shaded by vegetation (see Flag Iris), it makes it ideal habitation for amphibians, reptiles and a host of insects.
Look out for the showy displays of dragonflies and damselflies darting over the pools.
Willows sprouting along the damp cutting provide perches and nest sites for many warblers and birds, one of which that can be regularly spotted is the chiffchaff.
Quiet river banks attract kingfishers and otters both of which have been seen on numerous occasions.
Grazed meadow land make good wintering grounds for birds such as snipe and lapwing.
The ever changing farmland may prove glimpses of badgers, foxes, pheasants, snakes and other species used to living close to man.
Don’t forget to look upwards too, as the branches and skies overhead may afford views of woodpeckers, owls, kestrels and almost certainly buzzards and the possibility of a red kite.
At the right time of year you may also be treated to skeins of geese or the aerial fireworks of starlings heading home to roost.