Bude Canal in Winter
Bude Canal
Waves breaking over rocky ridges formed by upended strata at Bude
Up-ended strata at Bude
Boats beached at Bude in North Cornwall
Boats at low tide
Fishing on Bude Canal in North Cornwall
Fishing on Bude Canal
Fishing beat on Lower Tamar Lake near Bude
Lower Tamar Lake

Bude is a small resort town on the northern part of the North Cornish coast. The Bedes, meaning wise men, attended the chapel on the rock and consequently the location was refered to as "Bede's Haven". In Cornish it was known as Porthbud. Locals pronounce it "bood" which probably stems from the Cornish version of the name.

In Victorian times, Bude was a popular seaside resort and many of the Victorian buildings remain. In more recent times, Bude has become famous for its Jazz Festival in August. There is a Tourist Information Centre in the main car park.

Whilst much of the rock along the Tintagel and Boscastle coast is slate, the rocks around Bude are sandstones and shales. Where the softer upended rock layers have been eroded by the sea, a series of ridges has been formed such as at the sides of the beaches at Widemouth, Northcott Mouth and Sandymouth, creating many rockpools.

Bude Canal runs from Helebridge, through the centre of Bude, to the sea lock near Summerleaze beach. The canal was built in the 1820s to carry sea sand and lime inland for use as fertiliser and the original canal system spanned 35 miles reaching Launceston. The canal closed in 1901 when competition from the railway, bringing cheap manufactured fertilisers, rendered it uneconomical. Today, roughly 2 miles of canal remain filled with water.

There are a number of nature reserves around Bude:

  • The Millook Valley, above Millook Haven, contains an area of anciend woodland. The broad-leaved woodland is now owned by the Woodland Trust and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, an Ancient Woodland Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are primroses in spring, wildflowers including orchids in summer and blackberries and sloes in autumn. Fauna includes dormice, otters and smooth snakes.

  • Bude Marshes is an area of wetlands located on the south-west edge of Bude, along the northern bank of the Bude Canal, not far along from the Visitor's Centre. The marshland is the fourth largest area of reed in the county and provides valuable habitat for wintering migrant and breeding birds.

  • Maer Lake - Owned jointly between the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society - 25 acres of wetland meadow with open water provides an internationally acknowledged resting and feeding site for migrating birds. Note there is no access inside the reserve - viewing is strictly only from the private road above the reserve.
  • Lower Tamar Lake (South West Lakes Trust) was built by the Bude Canal Company in 1823 to act as the feeder reservoir for the Bude Canal System. Good for waterfowl and there is a bird hide here. A pair of Great Crested Grebe usually breed on the lake.
  • Phillips Point nature reserve is located on the seaward side of the Widemouth to Bude coast road. The small reserve is owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is a good spot for seals. It has magnificent vertical and slumping high cliffs with spectacular views to Hartland Point and Widemouth on a clear day.

    Very close by is Upton Meadow (also Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - a small reserve on side of a steep valley above a small stream, alongside which a small woodland grows
  • Marsland Valley (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - two large, steep-sided valleys with mixed oak woodland, bracken slopes, traditional hay meadows, wildflower meadows and coastline covering over 450 acres.
  • Lower Lewdon (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - an 11 acre mosaic of culm grassland and woodland, crisscrossed with rides and paths containing the pretty, blue-flowered devil's-bit scabious, an essential food plant for the larvae of the rare marsh fritillary butterfly.
  • Greena Moor near Week St Mary (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - culm grassland with some broadleaved woodland, scrub and streams. Jointly owned with Plantlife.

Walks in the Bude area

There is also a treasure trail for Bude

Photos of Bude on flickr

More info