The resort town/surfing centre of Bude is made up of different areas, each with a different feel. There is the busy town centre with national and independent shops and numerous hotels, guesthouses, bars and eateries. Tall cliffs climb behind the coast with open spaces for dog walkers and family play and exercise, before dipping down to numerous coves up and down the shore. Crooklets Beach is at the end of the golf club. Popular with surfers it has changing huts and showers and is close to town.
It is separated from Summerleaze Beach by Bude Sea Pool, a large, open-air tidal pool beneath the headland. The pool is refreshed daily and used when the tide is out. This beach stretches around the front of the town.
The life-savers have a high lookout, along with a cluster of beach huts, on the paths that lead up the cliffs. At the far side of the beach, the Bude Canal starts its low climb to Druxton Wharf near Launceston. Built in 1823, cables were used to haul tub boats up its 35 mile course.
This remote spot on the coastline of the teeth and tails of fiery dragons, used to be a small harbour. Ships would berth here to unload their cargoes of stone and lime and coal. Agricultural products would have been loaded and taken to be sold. A line of workers cottages and an inn were built here. These have been converted into a hotel and bar, with a small shop selling items for tourists.
From the days of Elizabeth I, Clovelly has been privately owned. This means that it has kept its unique atmosphere but it also means you have to pay in the Visitor Centre to get in.
A single steep, cobbled street tumbles its way down to the ancient fishing harbour and the 14th century quay, past flower-strewn cottages broken only by little passageways and winding alleys that lead off to provide further surprises. This street, known as ‘Up-a-long’ or ‘Down-a-long’, was built of stones hauled up from the beach. Donkeys used to be the main form of transport but today man-powered sledges transport goods around the village. Clovelly was once a busy fishing port renowned for herring and mackerel. During the high season, the return to the car park can be made by vehicle from behind the pub on the quay.
This charming hamlet stands proudly on its high perch. It is unspoilt, with just a handful of cottages, no pub, no shop. At the time of the Spanish Armada, the survivors of a Spanish Galleon took refuge here and settled, marrying local women. They were self-sufficient, from fishing, agriculture and lime burning. On the beach, now sprinkled with disused lime kilns and rusty winches, is the abandoned quay.
Westward Ho! is the only town in the UK to have an exclamation mark as part of its name.
The vast beach is Westward Ho!’s big attraction, backed by amusements, go-carts and a surf school. This wide expanse of sand stretches away for 3 miles and is made for surfing, as long as you have the energy to get out there at low tide. The shore slopes away so gently that the low tide mark feels like a mile away. A promenade runs along in front of the resort providing protection for the beach huts, the numerous eateries and apartments, chalets, clubs and pubs.
On the neighbouring headland, bungalows, huts and caravans dot the grass in grid clusters. Permanent holiday housing has been built alongside two holiday camps which are still in operation.
Surfers seem to go out in any weather as long as the surf is up. The village itself is small and provides the access to the beach car park. A small collection of shacks sell surfing paraphernalia and steaming mugs of tea to shivering wet suits. In the grey of a cold, windy, spring day, beach huts stand a bit forlorn, unwanted, unhired.
Around the headland Croyde sits on a small bay. An unspoilt village steeped in old-world charm, it huddles behind the dunes. Between the houses, tracks head down to the surfing beaches. The surrounding cliffs offer grand views of the sport on offer amongst the surf-topped waves.