The liveliest peace of Cornwall

Web: www.visitbude.info
Web: www.visitcornwall.com/destinations/bude

Bude Town Council


Beaches around Bude
Bude Museum     Battle of Stratton     Kilkhampton     Launcells     Marhamchurch     Poughill
Poundstock     Morwenstow     St. Gennys     Stratton     Week St. Mary     Widemouth Bay

The popularity of Bude as a seaside resort dates from Victorian times. Once described by Sir John Betjeman as the "least rowdy" resort in the county, Bude has managed to retain its atmosphere of easy going charm whilst catering for the most discerning of modern day tourists. It lies just off the A39 Atlantic Highway. In the 19th century it was notorious for its wreckers and smugglers, who plundered the ships that came to grief off the coast - more than 80 between 1824 and 1874. In 1823 the Bude Canal was dug to carry beach sand - used as a fertiliser - twenty miles inland to Launceston and for exporting Local produce. It was this waterway that brought development to the town. The canal is now used for pleasure-boating and fishing. The Castle, a castellated stone mansion standing on a grassy knoll overlooking Summerleaze Beach, was built in 1830 by the inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the first man to make a long journey in a mechanical vehicle - a steam carriage - from London to Bath and back. The building now houses the Town Council's offices: with the delightful grounds used for band concerts and fetes held throughout the summer season. The population of the town was 9,979 at the 2011 census.

"The long, wave and the thundering shores of Bude" as Tennyson expressed in his poem The Birth of King Arthur, have long made Bude a surfer's paradise. The Atlantic-pounded beaches of both Summerleaze and Crooklets have been described by Australian surfers as the "Bondi of Britain" and it was here in 1953 that some of them formed the first Surf Life Saving Club in the country. The Club still thrives and weekly demonstrations give an insight to its valuable role. The town overlooks a wide bay of hard golden sand flanked by spectacular cliffs and protected by a breakwater. The rock at the end of the breakwater is called Chapel Rock and once had a chapel standing here. There is a seawater swimming pool under Summerleaze Downs which means safety for swimmers even at low tide. Two excellent lifeguard patrolled beaches - Crooklets and Summerleaze - have extensive flat sands when the tide is out and are perfect for beach lovers of all ages. As well as the seawater pool, Bude now also boasts a large heated indoor leisure pool with flume, wave machine and cafe. Laser dome, trampolines, putting, floodlit tennis courts, mini-golf and go-karting close to the beaches all add to the family fun.

The town itself offers a wide range of amenities for the holiday maker and a visit to the splendid new Bude Visitor Centre in the Crescent car park would be an excellent placed to start. Alongside an extensive display by the North Cornwall Heritage Coast and Countryside Service, and a children's area, a full range of tourist information is available and the staff will be pleased to help you plan your holiday - whatever the weather. Bude offers Summer theatrical shows, concerts, regular dances, discos, numerous fetes and events, many with an historical theme, specially staged for visitors. Attractions include a weekly Cornish Furry Dance, full scale Carnival Week, Folk and of course the internationally renowned 8 day Jazz Festival. In fact something for everyone!

Several years ago the phrase "the liveliest peace of Cornwall" was coined to describe the pleasure of Bude and its environment, and despite the fact that it has now become the centre for several Festivals, little has changed to alter this claim. The natural beauty of the surrounding countryside and rugged coastline have been carefully preserved. Crisp, clean sands, great Atlantic surfing rollers, a high rate of sunshine and walks with magnificent views of Bude Bay, are there for the visitors' enjoyment and always will be. The choice is yours: whether to soak up the excitement and atmosphere of one of the Festivals, or to just soak up the peace and sheer beauty of the environment, whether to participate in the many and varied activities or to relax totally in a town renowned for its helpful friendliness. One word of warning though - we have it on good authority that one visit to Bude is rarely enough - many visitors return again and again to experience this "the loveliest peace of Cornwall".

The ship "Bencoolen" was wrecked on 21st October 1862 by the jagged reefs which fringe the cliffs. The figure-head is preserved in the churchyard. Of the 33 crew, only six were rescued alive, with a further six being pulled from the sea dead. The rest of the crew drowned and perished.

The beautiful old house known as Ebbingford Manor, in Bude has a number of literary connections and at one time used to open to the public in the summer months. Unfortunately this is no longer the case. The first recorded mention of Ebbingford dates from 1183. In 1433 the Manor passed into hands of the Arundell family and in 1602 the Cornish antiquary, Richard Carew, mentioned it in his Survey of Cornwall.

The parish church is located on the southern side of the harbour, was consecrated on 29th September 1835, and is dedicated to St. Michael & All Angels. The church was built of stone brought from Trerice in Newlyn East. The building has a turret containing two bells and a clock.

Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club is surrounded by the town and the sea, is a challenging eighteen hole links course established in 1891. It is located close to the centre of town.

Bude once had a railway station served by a branch line from Okehampton via Holsworthy, which arrived at Bude on 10th August 1898, but it closed in 1966 with the Beeching cuts. Bude railway station was served by the Atlantic Coast Express, providing a direct service to/from London. Bude and neighbouring Stratton are now more distant from the rail network than any other towns in England and Wales.

The Bude County Secondary School opened on the 1st of January 1909.

The Coastal Footpath crosses the Bude Canal by the road bridge or by the lock gates and continues round Compass Point and along the cliffs to Widemouth Bay.

The parent town of Bude, probably dates back to Roman times, but it was as the stronghold of King Charles and the Royalists that it made its mark in history. During the Civil War the 7 foot 4 inch Cornish giant, Anthony Payne, was enlisted as a bodyguard to the Royalist Sir Bevil Grenville. He fought beside Sir Bevil, Who commanded the King's army in the victorious battle at nearby Stamford Hill in 1643. Payne lived and died in the Grenville manor house at Stratton - now The Tree Inn. It is said that, when the giant died, the house had to be restructured to allow his huge coffin to be carried in and out. Many of the very fine churches of Cornwall still bear the Royal Crest decreed by the King in gratitude to his loyal Cornishmen during the Civil War. The local pubs are The Tree Inn and The Kings Arms.

Stratton Museum - Exhibits include items and photographs on the unique Bude Canal with its incline plane and shipwrecks along the rugged coastline.

A picturesque village just one mile north-east of Bude and winner of the Best Kept Village award on a number of occasions. The church of St. Olaf is one of the treasure houses of Cornwall, from its Norman font and wonderful collection of bench-ends (78 in all) telling the story of the Passion in remarkable detail, to the pair of immense 15th century paintings of St. Christopher facing each other across the nave. The old Iychgates are kept in the tower and the huge Royal Coat of Arms is dated 1655, a reminder that the Headquarters of Sir Bevil Grenville, during the Civil War, was at nearby Stowe Barton. Local pub is the Preston Gate Inn.

Widemouth Bay
Lies just south of Bude in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the North Cornish coast. Facing the Atlantic, the beach is ideal for surfing and a paradise for children with its beautiful stretch of golden sand and innumerable rock pools to explore. The justly famous Coastal Footpath runs along the cliff-top in either direction and offers walkers a superb panorama of the coastline and surrounding countryside. There are two large car parks next to the beach, each with its own cafe and toilets. Local pub is The Bay View Inn.

Set in a secluded valley three miles east of Bude; it is away from everywhere, charming in its loveliness among the fields. The church of St. Swithin has a very old door with an immense lock leading us to a delightfully un-restored interior with some fine examples of carved bench-ends, barrel roofs and some interesting 15th century floor tiles from the Barnstaple potteries. The grave of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney lies here and forty yards south of the church is the small but impressive well of St. Swithin.

Lies on the disused canal just two miles south-east of Bude. It was founded as a monastic settlement by St. Morwenna and every year, on the Monday after 12th August, the ancient Marhamchurch Revel is held to celebrate the Saint's good works. A Queen of the Revel is elected from among the village schoolgirls and crowned by Father Time on the spot in front of the church where St. Morwenna's cells once stood. A procession, led by the local band and the newly crowned Queen riding on horseback, then passes through the village to the Revel Ground. Local pub is the Bullers Arms Hotel.

Like Marhamchurch, has a church dedicated to St. Morwenna. Standing high above the sea, about seven miles north of Bude, the church is very impressive with much remaining of the original Norman building including the south doorway and the font. There is also work of the 13th, 15th and 16th centuries and some fine wagon roofs. During the last century, the originator of the Harvest Festival, the eccentric poet/priest Robert Hawker was Vicar here. The chimneys of the rectory, which he had built, each represent buildings with which he had earlier been associated. He showed great concern for shipwrecked sailors, campaigning vigorously against the wreckers and smugglers in his parish and built a hut here as a lookout on the cliffs nearby. The Devon border is only about two miles further north. Local pub is The Bush Inn.

Standing 600 feet above the sea, three miles south of Morwenstow, it is a large attractive village in the heart of "Grenville country"- Sir Richard Grenville (cousin of Walter Raleigh and friend of Sir Francis Drake) was born here in the 16th century and Sir Bevil Grenville in the 17th century. To the west of the village there is the remains of Kilkhampton Castle, a late Norman period motte-and-bailey castle. Nearby Stowe Barton was the house of the Grenville family. It was built on the site of Stowe House, once one of the most magnificent homes in England and described by Charles Kingsley in "Westward Ho!". The church of St. James standing in the village street by a quaint courtyard of cottages, speaks eloquently of heraldry, and it is obvious that rich men have lavished their wealth upon it. It contains some of the finest work in Cornwall, from its Norman south doorway to its large collection of bench-ends and fine window tracery of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Brocklands Adventure Park is located just outside the village. The local pubs are The New Inn and The London Inn.

Week St. Mary
A quiet village about seven miles south of Bude. Its history dates from the time of Domesday when it was probably the religious centre of the district - a Harvest Revel is held every September. The great lady of Week St. Mary was Thomasine Bonaventure, a local shepherdess who was taken to London by a rich merchant. Here she married three Lords in turn, the last Sir John Percival who became Lord Mayor in 1497. When he died she came back to her village home as Lady Bountiful. She built a school which has now become a group of cottages, she endowed a chantry in the church and left the vicar of Liskeard a beautiful chalice. Nearby is the remains of Penhallam Manor. A medieval manor house surrounded by a protective moat and built by Andrew de Cardinham in the 13th century. Also nearby is another old manor house known as Penfound Manor. The population of the village was 657 at the 2011 census. Local pub is The Old Orchard Inn.

St. Gennys
A delightful little village perched 400 feet up on the cliff side just above Crackington Haven - it clings to the hillside and looks out to the great headlands which drop sheer down to the sea. The churchyard is so steep that one of its paths is almost level with the roof. Much of the church is as it stood in Norman England.

Three miles north-west of Week St. Mary, is the site of Penfound Manor, the oldest inhabited manor house in Britain. Part Saxon, part Norman with Elizabethan and Stuart additions: it was mentioned in the Domesday Book and even boasts a friendly ghost. The entrance porch has a granite doorway with an inscription of 1642. Also nearby is the 14th century Poundstock Gildhouse, restored in 1919, it is the only one still in use in Cornwall, the upper floor of the two storey cob and stone building has a lofty timbered roof and medieval doorway.


South West Water has completed the first "Clean Sweep" programme in Bude to guarantee clean bathing water on Bude's beaches. Water quality testing takes place on a regular basis and results are consistently amongst the best in the country. Please note there are restrictions on taking dogs on certain beaches from April to October. Ask at Bude Visitor Centre for full details.

Crooklets and Summerleaze
The two fine Bude beaches, of which mention has been made before. It is possible, at low tide, to walk to Summerleaze from Sandymouth, Northcott Mouth or Crooklets - please check on the tide times and make sure you won't be trapped against the cliffs by the incoming tide.

Widemouth Bay
The most easily accessible and largest of the beaches, lying adjacent to the coast road. Black Rock stands proud of the rest of the rocks on the beach which create a large number of interesting rock pools. There are cafes and car parks along the road which follows the coastline.

A delightful little cove at the end of Coombe Valley.


Except at high tide this beach is a magnificent stretch of firm golden sand, with many rock pools, reached by driving down a winding country lane. The car park and cafe are run by the National Trust.

Northcott mouth
Except at high tide, a beautiful sandy beach interspersed with many rock pools.

Millook Haven
A north-west facing beach four miles south of Bude which lies under the imposing Penalt Cliff. Composed mainly of large pebbles and coarse shingle, it isn't a bathing beach but is well known spot amongst experienced surfers.

The Battle of Stratton 16th May 1643

At the beginning of our Civil Wars, Cornwall stood firmly in Royalist hands, but the tables were turned when a large Roundhead army under the command of the Earl of Stamford launched itself across the Tamar to invade the county. Stamford barricaded himself on the hill near Stratton that now bears his name. He had 5,400 infantry, 200 horse, thirteen cannon, and a great mortar. To face Stamford the Cornish leaders, Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir Bevil Grenville, had less than 3000 men. They nevertheless resolved that "come what may" they must assault the near impregnable enemy camp.

The battle began on Tuesday, 16th May 1643, at dawn. "Hedgehogs" of Royalist pikemen moved into the attack, with fire support from musketeers and light artillery. For nearly ten hours the fight moved to and fro, until the Cavaliers had all but expended their ammunition. At this crucial moment they decided to put their trust in the cold steel'. The silent march struck terror in the Roundheads and they wavered. Victory was clinched by Grenville, whose wing scaled the summit, rolling up Stamford's line and carried all before them. Hopton's men captured all the enemy cannon, baggage, money, supplies, and more prisoners than they knew what to do with.

And so Cornwall was saved. Each year the Battle is re-enacted locally by members of the Sealed Knot Society. This is a charitable society devoted to keeping the traditions of the English Civil War alive. The date for the re-enactment is the nearest weekend to the 16th of May.

Bude Visitor Centre
The Bude Visitor Centre is an excellent point of reference for all visitors to the area. The Centre has hundreds of brochures on attractions, activities, walks, history trails and more, and offers a postal service on some publications. They have an extensive stock of maps, books, postcards, gifts, toys and stamps for sale including a range of solid pewter Celtic jewellery and quality Cornish branded gifts.

Bude Lifeboat Station
Now home to an inshore D class lifeboat, Bude lifeboat station has operated for over 125 years and the crews have been presented with awards for gallantry.

The Castle, Bude
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 restaurant.

The local leisure centre is in Stucley Road, EX23 8AR.

Art Galleries

Seventh Wave Gallery

The Gallery

Notable Residents

Sir John Grenville (1628-1701), Born at Stowe House near Kilkhampton. He became heir to his family's extensive estates and he fought for the King under Sir Ralph Hopton in the Civil War. He was knighted by King Charles I after the capture of Bristol in August 1643.

Sir Richard Grenville, (1542-1591), A naval captain, commanding the Revenge in the Azores battle, lived near Kilkhampton.

Sir Richard Grenville, 1st Baronet (1600–1658), A Cornish Royalist leader during the English Civil War, was also from Kilkhampton.

Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker (1803-1875), Vicar of Morwenstow Church near Bude, wrote the "Song of the Western Men" He was regarded as a deeply compassionate person giving Christian burials to shipwrecked sailors washed up on the beaches.

Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793-1875), Inventor of the 'Limelight' used in lighthouses, lived in Bude.

Jean Rhys (1890–1979), author who lived in Bude in the late 1950's and began the final version of her most successful novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, while there.

Pamela Colman Smith (1878–1951), artist, illustrator, and writer, best known for designing the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of divinatory tarot cards for Arthur Edward Waite, lived in Bude, and died here on the 18th September 1951.

Step-brothers George Mills (1896–1972), author of children's books, and Arthur F. H. Mills (1887–1995), the crime and adventure novelist, were born in Bude; their grandfather Arthur Mills (1816–1898), MP, lived nearby at Efford Down House.

Stanley Lucas (1900-2010), was a super-centenarian who served as a Bude town councillor.

Rennie Montague (1907-1991), Bere was a British mountaineer, naturalist and nature conservationist who lived in a nearby cottage in his retirement; among his books are The Book of Bude and Stratton and The Nature of Cornwall.

Sir Laurence Dudley Stamp (1898-1966), one of the leading British geographers of the 20th century, lived in Bude in his retirement.

Tori Amos (1963-), American singer-songwriter has a home and studio here.


Bude Town Trail A four mile circular walk. It's easy to forget the town when you're enjoying the beach. Bude has certainly developed as a result of its fine beaches but it was not always so. As you follow this trail you will see how the coming of the canal and then the railway encouraged investment.

Bude Canal and Coast Path A five and half mile circular walk filled with varied scenery and panoramic views. The walk allows you to leisurely explore the Bude Canal and Coast Path, with several places to stop for food and drinks. 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 cliff-line to the south are without doubt, breath-taking, especially when the surf pounds the coast. Then there are the cliff-tops with their dramatic, geological formations, leading you to views overlooking Bude, its bay and beyond to Hartland and Exmoor.

Aqueduct Trail A circular ten mile route from the Tamar Lakes, crossing Devon's gently rolling landscape and returning on the aqueduct section of the old Bude tub-boat Canal.

Bude to Crackington Haven A good ten mile walk each way. Crackington Haven is one of the more secretive places on the North Cornwall coast. Hemmed in by Pencannow to the north and the undulating headland of Cambeak to the south, the walk from Bude is fairly hard but there is a bus back to Bude.

Morwenstow and Marsland Mouth Circular Walk This four and a half mile circular walk starts and finishes at the Rectory Farm Tea Rooms in Morwenstow. You'll be using the South West Coast Path and inland footpaths and tracks. You'll be treated to a combination of breath taking dramatic coastal cliff views and sometimes even Lundy Island.

The Planekeepers Path The Planekeepers Path is a circular ten mile route following the course of the Bude Canal through the charming village of Marhamchurch, then returning across country to Bude via the historic town of Stratton.

Millook Circular Walk This wonderful six mile walk leads you through one of the most unspoilt, remote and beautiful areas in North Cornwall. The ancient woodlands of the Millook Valley now belong to the Woodland Trust and are a haven for lichens and a range of wildlife.

Stratton Battlefield Walk A fairly easy four mile walk offering fine views from the site of the 1643 Battle of Stratton where 5,600 men commanded by the Earl of Stamford, advanced into Cornwall and camped upon the flat summit of Stamford Hill.


Bude Literary Festival - mid May.

Bude Folk Festival - end of May.

Bude Carnival - mid August.

Bude Jazz Festival - end of August.

Leopalooza Music Festival is held at nearby Week St. Mary at the end of July.

Budelicious - mid September.

Bude Blues Festival - early November.

Bude Christmas Day Swim.


Cafes in Bude


Pubs in Bude

Bude Canal       Bude Sea Pool       Tamar Lakes Country Park       Bude Visitor Centre       Cornwall's Beaches       Surfing in Cornwall

Bude-Stratton Museum       Crackington Haven       Launceston       Sir Goldsworthy Gurney       Robert Stephen Hawker       Tamara Way

The Castle       The Coastal Footpath       Killarney Springs       Brocklands Adventure Park       Cornish Lifeboat Stations       Widemouth Bay