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Best things to do in Bude

things to do in bude

This post will help you discover the best things to do in Bude. This popular town is right on the border between Devon and Cornwall and I think that many visitors to Cornwall will shoot right past it as they head south, but as this post shows, there are lots of great things to do here. If I have missed something out, please do let me know in the comments below.

Suggestions for things to do in Bude

Bude is a picturesque seaside town that effortlessly blends natural beauty with rich history and modern charm. Known for its stunning sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and a welcoming community, Bude offers something for every visitor. Whether you’re an avid surfer seeking the thrill of Atlantic waves, a history enthusiast exploring ancient ruins, or a family looking for a relaxing coastal getaway, Bude has it all. The town’s vibrant atmosphere is complemented by a variety of unique shops, cozy cafes, and delightful eateries, making it a perfect destination for both adventure and relaxation. From exploring the scenic South West Coast Path to unwinding in the tranquil Bude Sea Pool, there’s no shortage of attractions to captivate visitors. Discover the best things to do in Bude, where every corner offers a new adventure and a glimpse into North Cornwall’s enchanting charm.

Bude Sea Pool

bude sea pool

One of Bude’s most iconic attractions, the Bude Sea Pool, offers a unique and safe way to enjoy the ocean. Built in the 1930s to provide a haven for swimmers, this semi-natural pool is nestled in the rocks at Summerleaze Beach and is replenished with seawater at high tide. Measuring approximately 91 metres long by 45 metres wide, it provides ample space for swimming, paddling, and even practicing water sports in a controlled environment.

The Bude Sea Pool is not only a haven for families and casual swimmers but also a hotspot for serious swimmers and triathletes who use it for training. The pool’s calm waters contrast with the often rough seas of the Atlantic, offering a safe alternative while still providing the thrill of an open-water experience. The natural beauty surrounding the pool, with its rugged cliffs and panoramic ocean views, adds to the allure, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and photography.

Local community groups and the Friends of Bude Sea Pool charity work tirelessly to maintain and preserve this historic site, ensuring it remains free to use and accessible to all. They organize various events and activities throughout the year, including guided swims, aquatic fitness classes, and fundraising events, fostering a sense of community and encouraging both locals and tourists to engage with this unique feature.

Visiting the Bude Sea Pool is a must for anyone in Bude, whether you’re looking to swim, relax, or simply soak up the stunning coastal scenery. It’s a testament to the town’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty while providing enjoyable and safe recreational activities for everyone.


Bude Through Time” by Dawn Robinson-Walsh explores the history of Bude, a coastal town in Cornwall, UK. The book juxtaposes vintage photographs with contemporary images to illustrate the town’s evolution. Rich in local heritage, it provides a visual and narrative journey through Bude’s architectural and cultural changes over the years.

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bude through time

South West Coast Path

southwest coastal path bude

The South West Coast Path is a breathtaking trail that stretches for 630 miles along the coastline of southwest England, and the section that passes through Bude is particularly stunning. This part of the trail offers a mix of dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and sweeping ocean views that showcase the rugged beauty of North Cornwall.

Hiking the South West Coast Path in Bude can be tailored to suit various fitness levels and interests. For a leisurely walk, the route from Bude to Widemouth Bay is ideal. This 3.5-mile stretch takes you past spectacular sea views, rolling hills, and picturesque beaches. It’s a relatively easy walk, perfect for families or those looking to enjoy a peaceful day outdoors.

For the more adventurous, the path from Bude to Hartland Quay presents a challenging but rewarding trek. This 15-mile section is more strenuous, with steep ascents and descents, but the payoff is immense. Hikers are treated to some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the UK, with towering cliffs, roaring surf, and the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including seabirds and seals.

Along the way, there are numerous points of interest, such as the historic Compass Point, also known as the Pepper Pot, a unique octagonal storm tower built in 1835. The path also passes by the remnants of old canal systems, offering a glimpse into the area’s industrial past. These historic landmarks add a layer of intrigue and depth to the natural beauty of the hike, making it a rich and rewarding experience.

Walking the South West Coast Path in Bude is not just about the physical journey but also about connecting with the landscape and history of the region. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just enjoy a casual stroll, this trail offers an unforgettable way to experience the stunning beauty and cultural heritage of North Cornwall. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the photo opportunities are endless, with every turn revealing a new, breathtaking vista.

Summerleaze Beach

summerleaze beach

Summerleaze Beach is a quintessential Cornish gem and one of Bude’s most popular attractions. Located just a short walk from the town center, this expansive sandy beach offers something for everyone, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The wide, golden sands and rolling dunes provide a picturesque setting for sunbathing, beach games, and leisurely strolls.

One of the unique features of Summerleaze Beach is the Bude Sea Pool, a partially man-made tidal pool that offers a safe and enjoyable swimming experience. For those who prefer more traditional beach activities, the beach is well-suited for surfing, bodyboarding, and paddleboarding, thanks to its consistent waves and excellent surf conditions. Several local surf schools and rental shops are available, making it easy for beginners to try their hand at riding the waves.

The beach is also family-friendly, with plenty of space for children to build sandcastles and play. During the summer months, lifeguards are on duty, ensuring a safe environment for swimming and other water activities. There are also several rock pools to explore, providing endless fascination for kids and adults alike.

Facilities at Summerleaze Beach are top-notch, with convenient amenities such as public restrooms, showers, and a large car park. There are also several cafes and beach huts where visitors can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing ice cream. The nearby Bude Canal, with its tranquil towpath and opportunities for kayaking and rowing, adds another layer of appeal to this already delightful destination.

Whether you’re looking to relax in the sun, catch some waves, or enjoy a family day out, Summerleaze Beach offers an idyllic coastal experience that captures the charm and beauty of Bude.

Bude Canal

bude canal

The Bude Canal is a historic waterway that offers a serene and scenic escape from the bustling beach scenes. Originally constructed in the early 19th century to transport sea sand and lime inland for agricultural use, the canal now serves as a peaceful recreational area, perfect for walking, cycling, boating, and wildlife spotting.

Stretching for about 2 miles from the sea lock in Bude to Helebridge, the canal passes through picturesque countryside and tranquil waterscapes. The towpath is well-maintained and ideal for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, providing lovely views of the water and surrounding nature. Along the way, you can spot a variety of bird species, including kingfishers, herons, and ducks, making it a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

For those interested in boating, the canal offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Several local companies provide equipment rentals and guided tours, making it easy for visitors to explore the waterway at their own pace. Rowing boats are also available for hire, offering a relaxing way to take in the scenery.

The Bude Canal is not only a natural attraction but also a site of historical interest. The canal’s impressive sea lock, one of only two working sea locks in the country, is a fascinating feature that highlights the engineering prowess of the time. Interpretive signs along the towpath provide insights into the canal’s history and its role in the local economy during the 19th century.

In addition to its natural beauty and historical significance, the canal area is home to several charming cafes and picnic spots, perfect for a leisurely lunch or coffee break. The nearby Bude Heritage Centre at the Castle offers further information about the canal’s history and the town’s rich cultural heritage.

Exploring the Bude Canal provides a peaceful and enriching experience, offering a glimpse into the area’s past while allowing visitors to enjoy its serene and picturesque environment. Whether you’re on foot, on a bike, or in a boat, the canal offers a delightful escape and a chance to connect with the natural and historical beauty of Bude.

Crooklets Beach

crooklets beach

Crooklets Beach, often referred to as Bude’s “surfer’s beach,” is a lively and energetic spot that attracts wave enthusiasts from near and far. Located just north of Summerleaze Beach and accessible via a scenic walk along the coast, Crooklets offers excellent surfing conditions thanks to its powerful and consistent waves. This beach is ideal for both novice surfers looking to take lessons and seasoned riders chasing the perfect break.

The beach is well-equipped with facilities that cater to surfers and beachgoers alike. There are several surf schools and rental shops where visitors can book lessons or hire equipment, making it easy to jump right into the action. During the summer months, lifeguards are on duty, ensuring safety for all who venture into the water.

Aside from its surfing appeal, Crooklets Beach is also a family-friendly destination. The wide, sandy expanse is perfect for beach games, picnicking, and sandcastle building. The rocky areas and tide pools at the edges of the beach offer a chance to explore marine life, providing educational fun for children. For those who prefer to stay dry, the beach is a great spot for sunbathing or simply enjoying the stunning coastal views.

Facilities at Crooklets Beach include clean public restrooms, showers, and ample parking, ensuring a comfortable visit. There are also several cafes and eateries nearby where visitors can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing drink. The beach’s proximity to Bude’s town center means that shops, restaurants, and other amenities are just a short walk away.

Whether you’re hitting the waves, exploring the tide pools, or simply soaking up the sun, Crooklets Beach offers a vibrant and engaging seaside experience that captures the adventurous spirit of Bude.

The Castle Bude

castle bude

The Castle Bude is a unique historical landmark that offers a blend of cultural, educational, and recreational experiences. Built in 1830 by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, an inventor and engineer, the castle is a testament to his innovative spirit and architectural ingenuity. Positioned overlooking Summerleaze Beach and the Bude Canal, the castle provides stunning views of the coastline and surrounding area.

Today, the Castle Bude serves as a heritage centre and museum, housing a fascinating collection of exhibits that delve into the town’s rich history, geology, and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore displays that cover a wide range of topics, from the local shipwrecks and life-saving efforts to the development of Bude as a seaside resort. The museum also features exhibits on Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s inventions and contributions to engineering and science.

In addition to its historical exhibits, the Castle hosts art galleries showcasing the work of local artists, photographers, and craftspeople. These rotating exhibitions provide a platform for contemporary cultural expression and offer visitors the chance to purchase unique, locally-made souvenirs.

The castle’s beautifully maintained grounds and gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic. The castle cafe, with its delightful terrace overlooking the canal and beach, offers a selection of refreshments, from light lunches to cream teas, making it an ideal spot to unwind and take in the views.

The Castle Bude also plays an active role in the community, hosting various events, workshops, and educational programs throughout the year. From art classes and history talks to outdoor theatre performances and music concerts, there is always something happening at the castle to engage and entertain visitors of all ages.

A visit to the Castle Bude is a journey through time, offering insights into the area’s past and present while providing a picturesque setting to enjoy the natural beauty of Bude. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply looking for a tranquil spot to relax, Bude Castle is a must-see attraction that adds depth and charm to any visit to this coastal town.

Other great attractions close to Bude

Check out some of the following places while you are in the area too:

  1. Tintagel Castle: Perched on the rugged cliffs of North Cornwall, this legendary castle is steeped in Arthurian myth and offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the mysterious Merlin’s Cave below.
  2. Tintagel Old Post Office: This 14th-century stone building, now a National Trust property, provides a fascinating glimpse into medieval domestic life with its well-preserved architecture and charming gardens.
  3. Bodmin Moor: A vast and wild granite moorland, perfect for hiking and exploring, dotted with ancient stone circles, standing stones, and panoramic views, embodying the rugged beauty of Cornwall’s countryside.
  4. Crackington Haven: A small, picturesque coastal village with a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by dramatic cliffs, ideal for rock pooling, surfing, and scenic coastal walks.
  5. Boscastle: A charming village known for its natural harbour, quaint cottages, and the fascinating Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, all set amidst stunning coastal scenery.
  6. Hartland Abbey: This historic stately home and gardens, set in a lush valley near the coast, offers a glimpse into 12th-century monastic life and features beautiful woodlands and coastal paths.
  7. The Milky Way Adventure Park: A fun-filled family attraction near Bideford, offering rides, live shows, play areas, and interactive exhibits, perfect for a day of entertainment and adventure.
  8. Clovelly: A picturesque, privately-owned village with steep, cobbled streets leading down to a historic harbor, providing a unique glimpse into a bygone era and stunning sea views.
  9. Lundy Island: Accessible via ferry from Bideford or Ilfracombe, this remote island is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with opportunities for birdwatching, seal spotting, and exploring its rugged landscapes.
  10. Launceston Castle: A Norman castle with a striking round tower, offering panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside, and providing insights into the region’s medieval history.

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