The taste of salt on your lips, the feel of sand between your toes, catching ice-cream before it melts down the cone and dribbles onto your fingers. All sure signs that you have escaped the daily grind and made it to the coast to spend a couple of glorious weeks relaxing and rejuvenating.
Of course, the best place to be taking in the sea air must be Bude in Cornwall. Don’t just take my word for it though… the tourist board thinks so too, having awarded it the gold award for ‘Best UK Coastal Town’! Just tucked into Cornwall, south of the Devon border, Bude is a small town with lots to offer. Whether you are looking for some family time, a couple’s getaway or fun with friends, this is the place to come.
On the beach
Before you unpack, your first port of call is to stretch your legs while you take in your first deep lung full of sea air and there is no better place to do that than Northcott Mouth. Majestic cliffs shelter a wide stretching beach that is the perfect mix of rockpools, soft sand and the sound of lapping waves. There is a short walk over some rocks and pebbles to navigate, so not suitable for wheelchair users or those who might otherwise struggle across uneven terrain.
However, a more accessible beach is Summerleaze where you can wander along the old tracks of the train line, down a gentle descent to soft fluffy sands. This beach is overlooked by quintessentially British beach huts coloured in pretty blues, reds, greens and yellows. They bring to mind those typical 1930s illustrated posters inviting willing day trippers to spend time relaxing with a good book. In 2019, pull up a deck chair and watch children build sand castles with moats and decorate them with shells. Other equally beautiful beaches are Widemouth Bay on the coast road out of Bude or Crooklets Beach which adjoins Summerleaze.
A spot of lunch
Incidentally, Crooklets Beach is home to none other than Rosie’s Cafe. A Bude institution that combines a cosy relaxed atmosphere with classic diner food. I, for one, can vouch for their thickshakes to cool you down on a hot summer’s day. Aside from the tasty dishes, it’s the sea view that makes Rosie’s Cafe a favourite with visitors and has kept them coming back for over twenty years.
That being said, if you can find your way to The Preston Gate at Poughill (five minutes out of Bude) you will find a pub that just feels like home. You can’t go wrong with their fish and chips on a Friday lunchtime. They serve the lightest crispiest battered fish, with tangy piquant tartar sauce that is bursting with flavour. Seriously, you won’t want it to be over … you might have to order seconds!
Drinks with a view
If you are all about the cocktails though, the best are being poured courtesy of The Beach at Bude, which overlooks Summerleaze Beach. What tickles your fancy? A zingy mojito, a sweet strawberry daiquiri, a daring pornstar martini… or keeping it simple with a glass of prosecco. The secret ingredient here is the sea air!
With so much food and drink on offer, you’ll be needing to work up an appetite. Now is your chance to escape the everyday mundanity of the treadmill and dip your toes in fresh clear waters. Cornwall is the surfing mecca of the UK and rightly so, with the turquoise blues of the Atlantic Ocean setting the perfect scene. Offering lessons for one person, a family or a group, Bude Surfing Experience and Big Blue Surf School are instructors at Summerleaze to help you find your sea legs.
Getting your feet wet
Surfing isn’t all there is to do in the sea; paddleboarding has grown in popularity over the last few years. With a wider board to stand up on and a paddle to steer yourself, paddleboarding is the new way to explore the coast. We can’t all be blessed with the gift of exceptional balance though and if paddle boarding isn’t for you, you might like to try coasteering. This is the ultimate fun of diving, jumping, scrambling and swimming around this stunning coastline to experience it from a different perspective. Make sure to stay safe and use a guide company such as Outdoor Adventure to show you the ropes.
For a gentler holiday activity … fear not! The pedalos on the canal are always a firm family favourite and we can’t neglect to cover the Bude Sea Pool. Built in the 1930s, this is a semi natural sea pool that shelters swimmers from the waves of the open sea. So grab your inflatables, don your sunnies, lay back and do the beach in style. Admissions is free but donations are always gratefully received.
Hit the shops
When you are ready to dry out, who doesn’t love a spot of holiday shopping? Cornwall inspires creativity, which is why there are so many artisans here. For handcrafted glass pieces, check out The Atlantic Glass Studios on the canal or take Bude home with a print from Ocean and Earth Photography.
For a sit down and a coffee with your shopping, drop into Cornish Coasts just outside of Bude who have a fantastic range of Cornish crafted gifts (heads up, they are also serving up the best full English in the area!) After all of this, if you have the time then don’t miss the Saturday artisan farmers market that brings together local producers and sells fresh vegetables, artisan breads, baked goods and cheeses; everything you need for a picnic!
So much more
With so much to do in Bude, it’s impossible to include everything in one snapshot but honourable mentions go to a local pub, The Barrel, who only serve cornish drinks. Also, Tasty Pasties for the official food of Cornwall, The Castle (where you can find an interesting history of Bude) and Bude’s very own golf course.
So concludes our whistle stop tour of the UK’s Best Coastal Town 2018. You really have to visit to understand why it is so loved!