A few hours to spend in Bude?
If you’re visiting Bude for just a couple of hours, why not take our advice and have a look at the pointers below. It will ensure you make the most of your time in Bude and see some of the best bits!
Visit Bude Castle – Formerly the home of Victorian inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, The Castle is now a heritage centre with exhibition galleries, an archive with research facilities, an education room, shop and a café with breath-taking views to the breakwater and Chapel Rock. Admission is free.
Stroll along the Wharf – The Lower Canal Wharf was built by the Canal Company to house its own warehouses where both exported and imported foods were stored. Hocking’s the timber merchant was located here as well as the Bark House, where oak bark was used for the tanning trade.
These buildings and the area surrounding the Wharf have been re-developed as part of the Bude Canal Regeneration Project and was completed in 2009. Buildings now house cafes, restaurants, craft units and shops, an unmissable part of the town.
Cross Bude Sea Lock – Bude Sea Lock is one of only two working sea locks in Britain. The original sea lock allowed vessels of up to 300 tons to enter the canal basin. It was reconstructed and enlarged in 1835 following storm damage. It was completely restored in October 2000 using green oak. Storms wreaked havoc once again in March 2008, wrenching one of the lock gates off its fixings. Despite tireless efforts to dam up the entrance, water from the lower end of the canal drained out until it was practically empty. This gave the opportunity to repair the canal walls and dredge the basin, removing 6,000 cubic metres of silt in the process. This revealed some interesting finds, including a shotgun!
For a different view of Bude take a walk along the Breakwater – The first Breakwater was constructed in 1819 and was built to protect the Bude Canal, however it was destroyed by a storm in 1838. The present structure using stone and rubble, dates from 1839-43, and was built by George Casebourne, engineer to the Bude Harbour & Canal Company. During very high tides the waves dramatically break over the wall. The low wall with its sloping seaward side stands only 4 ft above the high-water mark of Spring tides.
See what Bude has to offer from Compass Point – Locally known as ‘The Pepper Pot’ this monument was built in 1835 for Sir Thomas Acland a local landowner and philanthropist, by George Wightwick. It was modelled in the fashion the famous ‘Temple of the Winds‘ in Athens. It stands proudly alongside the coast path on Efford Down. Originally this storm tower was built as a refuge for the coastguard, it was also an ornamental feature on the Efford Estate and part of Bude’s ambitious development plans. The octagonal tower, with the points of the compass carved as a frieze, was re-sited c. 1900 due to the eroding cliffs. It was dismantled and rebuilt further inland but unfortunately seven degrees out of alignment! The views from here extend for miles to the North to the GCHQ satellite dishes and Lundy Island and South to Trevose Head and beyond.
To walk the South West Coast Path – Simply start at the harbour and pick up the coast path – head south towards Widemouth Bay or to head north start at Rosie’s Kitchen at Crooklets Beach and walk to Northcott Beach. In the town there is a short stretch of coast-path between Summerleaze and Crooklets with stunning views across the harbour and the Bude Sea Pool. This path is wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Explore Bude’s Beautiful Canal – A pretty route to stroll with plenty to see and do, a walk, row or paddle along the historic Bude Canal is a must for any visitor. 40 minutes along the canal is a dog-friendly tearoom/bistro with wildlife centre, fishing lake, nature trails and outside play area. Both the designated cycle track (the old railway) and the towpath are flat and wheelchair and pushchair friendly. If you want to take a different route back to Bude follow the coast path sign to Widemouth and return to Bude along the Coast. Grab a copy of the ‘Bude Canal and Coast Circular Walk’ leaflet from the Tourist Information Centre for a detailed guide.
Several features along its length are unique in British canal history, as you will discover. It was originally created for transporting lime rich sand to local farms. Today it is a place for leisure rather than industry. Canoes, kayaks, pedaloes and bikes can all be hired, while it is also a fantastic coarse fishery with some large and unusual species
A level towpath also makes the canal an ideal place for wheelchair users or families with pushchairs – follow the canal out of town and you may spot kingfishers, egrets, herons, geese, lapwings, water voles and otters as you approach Bude Marshes.
Get the sand between your toes – Bude’s two award winning beaches at Summerleaze and Crooklets are minutes from the town centre and offer a large expanse of sand and gorgeous views. Summerleaze Beach has a small harbour with fishing boats and is home to the famous Bude Sea Pool, it is great for crabbing and rock pooling. Crooklets Beach is a little pebbly at the top but there is a huge expanse of sand at low tide with plenty of rock pools to explore. There is a sloped promenade which offers great views of the beach and a play area. Both beaches have a selection of beach huts available to hire.
Dip your toes in the water – The Bude Sea Pool is a beautiful, part natural, part man-made swimming pool set in the rocks. Created in 1930, the Sea Pool has provided safe bathing at Bude for over 80 years. It is one of the very few tidal swimming pools which remains open to the general public and is open throughout the year, free for all to enjoy. The pool is topped up by the sea at high tide each day.
The beaches of Bude have always been fantastic. Thanks to the work of local environmental groups, such as ‘A Greener Bude’, along with the support of the wider community, three of Bude’s beaches have been awarded a mix of the internationally recognised Blue Flag and Seaside Awards. The Atlantic-facing North coast of Cornwall is rated highly for its great waves and epic scenery, making the Bude area a brilliant destination for surfing. Many European Champion surfers were born and raised within the sound of the waves of Bude. The Bude Life Saving Club is located at Crooklets Beach and in the season they carry out weekly life saving demonstrations.
Stay and Play – Have a go at Pitch and Putt or Crazy Golf or hire bikes to explore the Bude Valley and the Whalesborough Farm traffic-free cycle tracks. The famous Bude Links Golf Course is open to non-members and a short distance away The Ivyleaf has a 9-hole golf course and is set in a stunning countryside setting with glorious seaviews. Bude has three children’s play areas, one behind the Tourist Information Centre and one at each of our town centre beaches.
Learn about our local history, geology and nature or just enjoy experiencing Bude’s stunning surroundings by booking one of our popular guided walks.
Indulge in a little retail therapy – by visiting Bude’s Town Centre. Bude has a myriad of cool independent stores and tempting little streets.
Don’t forget to eat – With a deli, cafes, restaurants, pubs, takeaways and bakeries in the town centre you haven’t got far to go to pick up your holiday essentials. There are places to eat in Bude to suit every taste and every wallet. With such fabulous coast and countryside on our doorstep, Bude is a great area for fine local produce. Indeed, the harbour still has traditional fishermen to guarantee a fresh catch, while the town also boasts its own brewery creating excellent ales.
Where will your taste buds lead you on your visit? Maybe it will be a plate of fantastic sea food, perfectly cooked at a local bistro or restaurant? Modern cuisine or tasty traditional fare at a family run pub? British or Continental, fine dining, or delicious traditional fish and chips, you will find it in Bude.
If it’s a wet day – why not spend some time in the tropical Splash Leisure Centre, go ten pin bowling at The Venue, (where there is also a great soft-play zone for the kids) or spend some time in the Bude Castle – home to our Heritage Centre and Museum. Down on the Lower Wharf you can book a craft session and spend several hours creating your own masterpiece to take home – there are several options available including ceramics, jewellery, bone carving and Tiffany Glass making.
Enjoy your time in “Beautiful Bude” and we look forward to seeing you again soon.
Want more inspiration?
Pick up a copy of our handy guides
Visit: Family Fun
Visit: Out & About
Visit: Bude Beach Guide
Eat: Places to Eat
Play: On the Water
Play: On the Land
Stay: Self Catering
Stay: Holiday Park & Camping