For this walk I am travelling from home for a few days walking along the North Cornwall coast. My plan is to drive to Bude and arrive in time to take the bus to Crackington Haven and then walk back to Bude. This is a risky prospect when the bus only runs once every 2 hours, but I prefer to walk this way because it avoids the risk of a long wait at the end of my walk. Thankfully I make it with no hold ups and am soon parking in the main beach car park at Bude with around 25 minutes before my bus. It is a grey and overcast day, but at least it is dry and a reasonable temperature. I spend the time exploring Bude.
The town has a canal, although most of it is now disused but unusually it reaches the sea, with the coastal most lock gate under water at high tide.
I then walk back along the road from the car park to Bude Strand, where the buses stop. I know Bude well as when I lived in Exeter I used to visit the town quite often. I love the huge waves and powerful sea that you see on the North Devon and Cornwall coast and Bude was about the easiest place on this coast to get to from Exeter as it had a direct bus service. Although a long bus journey it was always a trip I enjoyed. However getting buses along the coast was always problematic, as there were very few buses along the coast, so I often ended up walking to Widemouth Bay and back again. Happily things have improved once Western Greyhound started running the buses on this part of the coast rather than First, as they made an effort to connect them with nearby towns and other routes.
The bus arrives on time and is soon heading along the coast, giving me a preview of todays walk as I pass Widemouth Bay on the way. Soon it is descending the steep hill into Crackington Haven, around 11am (the bus timetable has since changed). The beach is a mixture of sand, shingle and rocks and I’m not best pleased to see mist hanging over the cliffs either side of the beach – this is going to spoil the views. Crackington Haven is a small village although I note it does have a pub which might be useful next time.
The coast path initially follows the road so I head up from the beach to the road. Shortly after joining the road I come to the coast path sign and follow the path heading north west and the first climb of the day. Approaching on the bus I could see the village was in a steep valley, so this is no surprise.
Heading up the cliffs the other side I can look back over the village and am surprised to see tennis courts on the cliff at the other side of the bay. I think I’d be too distracted by the view to be any use at tennis.
As I climb further the mist seems to be clinging to the other side of the bay, but seems to be lifting on my side, which is good news, although as I get higher it does get hazier. At Pencarrow Point, the first main headland there is a path out to the very tip of the headland and I can’t resist taking it. As I reach the top of the headland the mist seems to be lifting and I have a view of the coast ahead – it’s not very flat!
On my last walk I got frustrated by the constant climbs and drops back down to sea level and this walk seems no different, as I’m soon dropping down to a steep little valley known as Aller Shoot. The coast path crosses the stream on a bridge and then immediately climbs back up again – I think this is going to be another tiring walk, but the steep hills on the coast make for spectacular scenery.
The coast ahead is misty too and from the top of the next headland I can see back to Crackington Haven again and the coast ahead.
Thankfully this is the last hill for a little while as the coast path sticks to the top of the fairly level cliffs heading east with the stream valley and little hamlet of St Gennys to the south. The coast path is on the top of a hill here but there is a steep valley to the left and the scenery reminds me of the Valley of the Rocks near Lynton.
The path then follows field edges after this valley passing a small waterfall at a little valley, although I can’t see it from the coast path. To my left is the sand and shingle beach of Claeave Strand, inaccessible on foot, sadly.
Back up the other side there is a steep but short climb back up and then I am descending into a much larger and wider valley, where another waterfall is marked. I’ll have to take the maps word for it, since I can’t see it.
The mist is blowing in and out of this valley, making for a very atmospheric view. There is access to the beach here marked as Scrade on my map, but it is rocky and shingle. I’m surprised to see other people down in this valley too, as it is a remote spot.
The path climbs quite steeply out of the valley and gives a good view back to the shingle beach below.
At Chipman Point I turn right with the coast to head east for a while. It looks to be less steep ahead. The coast is now fairly level for the next ¾ of a mile or so. The mist blows in and out and when it clears gives a good view over the the coast ahead, with a wide bay with a shingle beach.
Ahead there is a wooded valley with another waterfall. The mist though seems to be closing in now, reducing the views. Once round the valley there is a path down to a beach at Cancleave. This is a rough path and the beach is rock and pebble, but deserted. I take it, as I can’t resist exploring these remote little beaches. So despite having commented on the number of ups and downs on this walk I’m adding some of my own too.
Climbing back up I can see the mist is clearing ahead and I can make out views of Widemouth Bay.
Before that though I can see another rocky bay and valley, Millook. This looks very inviting and thankfully I can also see that the mist is lifting.
The coast path now runs close to the road to the right and then joins it for the steep descent down to Millook. By now the mist has gone and the sun is breaking though. This is a beautiful spot with just a handful of houses in the deep valley at the back of the beach. There are mills marked on the map though so I imagine this one once a bit more industrial. I go down onto the beach here and go for a little paddle.
Although pebble and shingle beaches are a bit harder on the feet it does mean no clearing of sand off afterwards. This is lovely and refreshing.
The coast path then briefly follows the road out of the village and then turns left to take a steep route up the cliffs to Bridwell Point. It is worth it for the view and the shingle beach and fox gloves on the coast remind me a bit of Exmoor. I can see a change in the geology again too, as the grey rocky cliffs I have been walking on so far are changing to sand stone cliffs.
At the top of the hill there is a viewpoint for both walkers and drivers. At the top of the cliff I can see over the more familiar territory of Widemouth Bay. First though I have another descent down to the beach at Wanson Mouth. I head down to the beach here although it is not as sandy as I’d hoped.
There is a much gentler climb up the low cliffs on the other side and they soon give me a fine view of Widemouth Bay. The coast path runs along the low cliffs at the back of the beach which eventually give way to sand dunes, an unusual feature on the North Cornwall coast. I decided to abandon the coast path here though and head down onto the beach, as the tide is out and I want a change to walk along the beach.
This is lovely and although the south end of the beach is a bit rocky the rocks soon give way to the glorious expanse of sand I remember so well. This is a favourite beach of mine and like so many here it is popular with surfers too. I stop for a while on the beach and go for a paddle, it is a great way to refresh the feet. I stop at the back of the beach to change into shorts, as the weather has picked up and this means I can go a little deeper into the sea. It’s a lovely beach and I am pleased to be back here.
At the north end of the beach the coast becomes rocky again and so I make my way up off the beach and out to the oddly named headland of Lower Longbeak, which gives me good views back over Widemouth. The earlier mist has left a haze over the beach but at least it’s warm now.
The coast path sticks to the cliff tops now along the jagged cliffs all the way to Bude. The hills are much gentler now and the road is close by to the right.
The path skirts the edge of the houses of the village of Upton to the right and ahead I can see the tower on the cliff at Efford Beacon.
I make much quicker progress over the gentler cliffs here and am soon at the tower. Here I have a lovely view over Bude glinting in the sunshine and the numerous sandy beaches that are found here. There are surprisingly few people on the beach given it’s now warm and sunny although I suppose it being outside the school holidays helps.
Ahead I come to what I presume are the remains of a harbour wall and the mouth of the Bude Canal.
I descend over the canal and cross the footbridge. This is a tidal canal so the lock gate and bridge can be under water at high tide. Thankfully that is not the case here so I can easily cross and get down to the beach at Bude.
It is now a wonderful warm and sunny afternoon so I spend some time on the beach. It has been a great day and it is very refreshing to relax on the beach after my walk. The walk has taken a little less time than I expected and I spend some time walking around Bude again. Once I’m done, I drive around to near Boscastle where I’m staying and in the evening walk up onto the cliff tops to enjoy a lovely sunset over the sea. A perfect end to the day.
Here is details of the public transport needed for this walk.
Western Greyhound route 595 : Bude – Widemouth Bay – Wainhouse – Crackington Haven – Boscastle – Bossiney – Tintagel – Camelford. Note that there are only two buses a day each way that serve Crackington Haven, as some of the buses miss this part of the route. For this reason check the times carefully (there is no Sunday service). Most buses continue on to Wadebridge as route 584.