We may be biased, but we think Bude is a wonderful place to visit all year round. Its ideal location allows visitors to hop over the border to delightful Devon or to explore the depths of charming Cornwall.
No matter your interests, Bude and its surrounding area will have something for family, friends and four-legged pals too.
For fans of history there are a host of castles and historical landmarks to discover. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature and wildlife our coastal paths, nature reserves, and country parks offer a range of glorious walks and adventurous activities to discover. Or maybe you just want to take the time to completely unwind and relax. Well, we can put a tick in that box too with our Whalesborough luxury spa, tasty local restaurants, or wonderful walks along Bude Canal.
1. Discover historic houses, ruins and castles
If it’s your first visit to this part of North Cornwall The Castle Heritage Centre at Bude is well worth a visit. One of Bude’s most spectacular and oldest buildings, The Castle is positioned in the sand dunes overlooking the golden sands of Summerleaze Beach, and Bude Canal. Free to visit, you can learn all about the history of the town and the local area. Year round, you can enjoy a host of art exhibitions and events too. Alongside its café and award-winning Heritage Centre, open 10am-4pm, this dog-friendly venue is a great start point for historic inspired days out.
If ruins and ancient history is more your thing, just over 35 minutes away is Tintagel Castle. Situated on North Cornwall’s clifftops, its remains are linked to the legend of King Arthur. Here you can cross the award-winning footbridge to take in the stunning views of the coastline and wander amongst the castle ruins that linger on the cliffs. As you explore, you’ll discover early medieval remains as well as a life-size bronze statue of ancient king, Gallos.
Alternatively, you could take time out to visit Launceston Castle, a Norman castle with remarkable views over what was the former Capital of Cornwall. Rich with historical events, you can unearth the castle’s 1000-year history encompassing its time as one of Cornwall’s great strongholds, its transition into a bleak prison, before its transformation into a hospital during World War II. Today, the castle grounds are a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic with the family.
2. Take a stroll or a paddle along the canal
Considered a unique waterway, Bude Canal was originally created to transport lime-rich sand over 30 miles inland to improve poor, acidic farmland around Holsworthy and Launceston. Regarded a huge engineering feat at the time, it had to climb 430 feet within the first 6 miles. Although it ceased operating in the 1890’s, today the canal provides the perfect place for a calming stroll along the water’s edge, while canoes, kayaks, pedaloes and even bikes are available to hire. However you choose to explore this beautiful body of water, the canal is unquestionably one of Bude’s highlights! It even offers the opportunity for a spot of course fishing with a range of large and unusual species found in its waters.
3. No break is complete without a trip to the beach
You couldn’t pick a better location, as Devon and Cornwall are home to some of the UK’s best and most beautiful beaches. Crackington Haven Beach is just a 20-minute drive from Bude. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with unspoiled sands and a small cove snuggled between striking cliffs, this beach is ideal for families, surfers, and beachgoers. Although there is a seasonal ban on dogs between 15th May and 30th September from 10am to 6pm, dogs are welcome at all other times.
A little further away, you can discover the dog-friendly natural harbour at Boscastle. Full of drama, its seaward entrance sits between the craggy twin headlands of Penally Point and Willapark. Sat in a deep ravine, the picturesque Cornish village is well sheltered with moored fishing boats and glorious coastal walks.
You can discover more about our favourite local beaches and top spots for surf experiences here.
4. Get your steps in
The South West Coastal Path is England’s longest footpath that stretches for 630 miles, starting at Minehead in Somerset and ending in Poole Harbour in Dorset, with the coasts of Devon and Cornwall running in between. While many sections are steep and challenging, walking intensity levels become easier through Bude and Widemouth Bay, allowing for a range of ages and abilities to soak up the salty air and stunning views.
For those seeking more of an adventurous thrill, the path returns to high cliffs, plunging valleys and long sandy beaches, particularly towards Boscastle. Along this leg you’ll discover the V-shaped valleys of Crackington Haven and Millook. You’ll also encounter High Cliff which, at 723 feet, is the highest point on the Cornish section of the coast path.
5. Keep the kids entertained with exciting days out
Just a 30-minute drive away, in North Devon, is the multi-award-winning Milky Way Adventure Park. This family amusement park has over 110,000 sq. feet of indoor fun and acres of outdoor activities, making it the perfect day out whatever the weather. If you’re happy to travel that little bit further, you could take the whole family to The BIG Sheep – a farm and theme park with plenty of activities for a jam-packed day out. Meet the friendly animals, ride thrilling rollercoasters, watch entertaining live shows, and much more!
6. Explore the idyllic Tamar Lakes
If you fancy a change of scenery Tamar Lakes offers a fantastic selection of beautiful and varied walking spots, with a circular route around the Upper Tamar Lake that is 2.8 miles long. Here you’ll discover a level path around the entire lake allowing for easy access by foot, bikes, mobility scooters, pushchairs, and even wheelchairs. With wonderful views, an abundance wildlife, and activities that range from kayaking to stand-up paddleboarding, and canoeing, Tamar Lakes offers a great escape for the day; dogs are welcome too, as long as they are kept on lead.
7. Embark on a Treasure Trail
If you are hoping to explore the area in an entirely different way, Treasure Trails might just be for you! The self-guided detective mystery walking trail around Bude is perfect for anyone aged 6+ and takes you on a 1.5-mile loop, at your own pace. The trail will have you hunting down criminal masterminds as you look for evidence along the canal, Bude Castle, and Summerleaze Downs. For just £9.99, this activity could provide the whole family with heaps of fun and memories to last a lifetime.
8. Release your inner Geologist
While Bude and its surrounding area provides the perfect location for surfing, investigating intriguing rockpools, and relaxing on its golden sands, what’s not so well known is its amazing, internationally significant geology. Formed over 300 million years ago, when lake Bude was located in a tropical climate, alternate layers of sand and silt were laid down forming the “Bude Formation”. Forced up into a mountain range, warped layers of the striped rock can be seen for many miles along the cliffs, where fossils can be found to this day. You can explore these rocks yourself, or you can take part in a two-hour Bude Geological Walk with Dr. Roger Higgs, a friendly local expert.
9. Explore the depths of Cornwall, or hop across to Devon
It’s no secret that you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to seaside towns near Bude, but what if you wanted to explore further inland? You can reach the pretty Cornish town of Bodmin by car in under an hour where you’ll discover Bodmin Jail, Cornwall’s Army Museum, and Lanhydrock, a 19th-century high-Victorian country house, set in stunning grounds. Or, maybe Okehampton would be more your style? Situated just over 45 minutes away at the northern edge of Dartmoor, this traditional market town is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, and those seeking an authentic rural England experience.
10. Enjoy adult-only activities
With plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained, you may be curious to consider adult-only days out. Well, you’re in luck. Just a short 10-minute drive away from Bude is The Cornish Distilling Co where you can book Distillery Tours to learn how to make true British rum from scratch. These tours will allow you to wander through the factory floor and see the rum production process, from the fermentation of the molasses to the bottling of the final product. Enjoy gorgeous views over the Cornish countryside whilst sampling the range of the Cornish Distilling Co’s rum for £20 per person.
Where to stay?
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, where you can enjoy North Cornwall and North Devon, Whalesborough has a host of luxury holiday cottages, barns, and even a farmhouse to choose from. Located amongst 450 acres of rolling Cornish countryside that runs down to the sea, here you can relax in style, experience amazing spa treatments, take in miles of coastal, countryside or canal walks, and indulge in the luxury of the on-site heated indoor pool, swim-in spa, sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi.
And, if owning your own holiday home has been a long unfulfilled dream, why not take up a try-before-you-buy break with us?
Whalesborough has three luxury holiday villas that are freshly available to buy, ready for Spring 2024. You can stay for a weekend, a week, or even longer – and if you do go on to buy one of the gorgeous villas, you’ll get your money back in full! Could there be any better reason to book a break this Autumn?
To book a plot viewing with Whalesborough’s Head of Sales, Lee Lewis, or to arrange a try before you buy break, please call 01288 361 940.