Bude is a seaside town on the North Cornwall coast, best known for its sweeping sandy beaches. Once a popular Victorian seaside resort, today it is a haven for surfers and watersports enthusiasts, walkers and cyclists alike.
Image credit: Steve Bittinger via Flickr
Things to do in and around Bude
Take a trip on Bude Canal by pedalo or boat, which you can hire from the Wharf. The canal was once one of the most unusual canal systems in Britain because it used a type of cable railway to haul tub boats on wheels up to the higher levels. The boats transported mineral-rich sand from around Bude for farmers to spread on their fields. Linking the canal and the sea are the only manually operated sea lock gates in England.
Discover the town’s interesting history at the Heritage Centre, where you can see exhibitions on everything from the English Civil War and D-Day, famous local shipwreck Bencoolen, local inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney and even Bude’s very own fossilised fish Cornuboniscus Budensis. Its three galleries also host exhibitions by local artists and craftspeople.
Bude Sea Pool
Take a dip in Bude sea pool, which was opened the 1930s under the curve of the cliffs, and is a safe place to feel like you are swimming in the sea without the full effects of the Atlantic. It is free to use and open all year round. The Friends of Bude Sea Pool website has some wonderful photos of its past: History of Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall. If you enjoy using the pool, please remember to donate to its upkeep, as it relies on generosity to stay open and free.
Interesting walks in and around the town
For walkers, the South West Coast Path passes through the town, and you can find the moderate 5.7 mile walk here. Or for a slightly tougher walk, try the National Trust’s Morwenstow Walk, just above Bude and running to the Devon border through the Hartland part of Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
And of course, its beaches
Bude has over 300 beaches, with fabulous names such as Duckpool Beach, Sandymouth Beach, Crooklets Beach, Northcott Mouth Beach and Widemouth Bay Beach. Summerleaze Beach is just five minutes’ walk from the town centre and is a great place to hire a beach hut, go crabbing and have a splash in the sea.
Independent shops and spots for foodies
A trip to Bude wouldn’t be complete without a browse around the lovely independent shops on its High Street. You’ll find handmade artisan chocolates at Sweet P’s Confectionery, and all manner of books, jewellery and gifts at family-owned Spencer Thorn. Check out the Bude Tourist Information site for a comprehensive guide to all the best foodie treats in the town.
Did you know?
Bude Castle (now the Heritage Centre) was built among the sand dunes for Victorian inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who invented the Limelight, which lit the stages in Victorian theatres, and the ‘Bude Light’, which was used to illuminate Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall and the Houses of Parliament. Four Bude Lights are still standing at Trafalgar Square – the granite column of the south east corner light was converted into a police post, sometimes described as “London’s smallest police station”. Russian princes and members of the Tolstoy family all stayed at the Castle when they fled the Revolution.