Updated: Feb 7
Are you spending half term in Cornwall? Here’s our guide for a fun week for all the family around Bude and Widemouth Bay.
This activity can be enjoyed whatever the weather and by young and old. Low tide is best, as this is when the waves retreat and leave the tranquil rockpools brimming with sea life. We recommend you kit yourself out with a bucket, net and a handy pocket guide to the seashore so that you can easily identify your finds. Rock Pool – Extraordinary Encounters Between The Tides, written by Cornish expert Heather Buttivan, is a mine of information as is her website www.cornishrockpools.com – you’ll be amazed at the number of different species that make a Cornish rockpool their home and you can expect to find crabs, fish, starfish, urchins and anemones to name just a few. The experts at the Natural History Museum have put together a great guide and video that will help you explore the magic of the rockpool in safety.
There is one thing that this area of north Cornwall is famous for and that’s surfing. Bude’s own beaches, along with Widemouth Bay, offer a combination of easy white-water waves perfect for learning, alongside world-class surf out back for experienced wave riders. We recommend having lessons to ensure you get the most from your days in the waves. We’ve partnered with Freewave Surf Academy whose 15-plus years of experience means you’ll be in safe, knowledgeable hands. They also offer stand up paddleboard (SUP) sessions and hire as well as thrilling coasteering experiences along the intertidal zone of Bude’s stunning coastline. Guests of Elite West Holidays get priority booking and an exclusive discount to boot!
Taking the plunge
The iconic Bude Sea Pool is open all year round and free to use. While water temperatures can be still be quite chilly at the end February, a good wetsuit and some boots can keep the most eager water babe warm. The Sea Pool offers a tranquil alternative to the open ocean which can often be quite rough at this time of year. And if you don’t fancy a dip, then it’s a peaceful place to sit and watch the world go by.
If the weather is poor and you prefer a dip indoors then Bude Leisure Centre offers a 25m swimming pool that has a both a fun flume and exciting wave machine, bringing the fun of the waves into the safety of a warm, lifeguarded environment. There is even a beach area, perfect for little ones who are taking their first forays into the water. The timetable is updated weekly and sessions can get busy during school holidays so always best to check the website for times and advance booking is recommended.
On two wheels
Whether you bring our own bikes or hire while you’re here, exploring Bude and its surrounding network of lanes and cycle paths is always a pleasure. Visit Bude has some handy, downloadable route cards that include some easy, level routes around Bude’s canal and nature reserve, as well as more adventurous rides taking in some challenging climbs and terrain.
Steeped in history
The Castle, Bude is one of the finest and oldest buildings in the town. Set back just behind the beach, this Grade II listed building was built in 1830 and houses a Heritage Centre, where you can discover Bude’s inventive genius, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the area’s unique geology, alongside a wonderful collection of Bude railway nostalgia, interactive models plus local military and maritime history. There are also three art galleries that showcase both established and emerging local artists in a regularly changing programme. With so much to look at, Café Limelight, with its great view out to sea is the perfect place to refuel with coffee and cake or a light lunch.
Take to the lakes
Just a short drive away from Bude, The Upper and Lower Tamar Lakes are a haven for walkers, runners, cyclists, anglers, sailors, birdwatchers and families. There are circular paths around the lakes, or you can take to the water on hire equipment or launch your own. Wildlife abounds here and there are even handy bird hides for spotting some local feathered friends. There are some excellent free worksheets for children that can be downloaded and printed in advance to keep kids busy. The area is dog friendly too, so no-one misses out!
Explore beautiful Boscastle
The unspoilt village of Boscastle, which huddles around the historic harbour, makes for a great day out. Its craggy cliffs and unique, hidden harbour entrance harks back to days of old when smuggling was in its heyday. Boscastle also boasts it own blow-hole beneath Penally Point. Known as the Devil's Bellows, it can be seen snorting an impressive horizontal waterspout halfway across the harbour entrance if the conditions are right – if you time it about an hour either side of low tide, you should be in time for this natural ocean spectacle.