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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Walk 167 Crackington Haven to Bude (Cornwall)

Walk 167 Crackington Haven to Bude (Cornwall)

(Third leg of English coastal walk – Lands End to Bristol)

Map: L/R 190
Distance: 11 miles or 18km
Difficulty: Demanding up to Widemouth Bay, relatively easy after this
Terrain: mainly coastal path, some road/dunes
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: 595 bus runs between the two places every couple of hours.

Although the first half of this walk is demanding with some steep climbs, the first part out of Crackington Haven up to the 430 foot high Pencannow Point is on a reasonable incline. The views at the top are worth a pause to stand and stare.

Continue on to Cleave Strand where there are more good views. Near here a wooden National Trust gate marked 'Cleave' has a plaque which states that it was given in memory of Bob and Joan White of Kenya and Yorkshire. I have found no other information about this.

After steep climbs, the path cuts inland past an old triangulation point near Dizzard and an oak wood. Further along is Millook and another steep climb before the path follows the road down to Widemouth Sand. The geological society voted this stretch of coast as one of the top ten sites for folding and faulting rocks.

Widemouth Bay, as you may expect, is a wide sandy stretch popular with surfers and swimmers. The area is steeped in smuggling history with the various coves playing a big part in this. This is also the site of many submarine cables which link the UK with other parts of the world.

The walk continues along the sand up to Phillip's Point Nature Reserve owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and features rare plants and grey seals. There are spectacular views including some towards Bude and beyond.

The path continues to Compass Point with its ornamental tower once used as a coastguard lookout. A view of the River Bude estuary and beaches can be enjoyed, and on my visit, there were echoing loudspeaker warnings telling swimmers and surfers about the dangers of the sudden tides. The Australians evidently call this stretch 'Bondi of Britain'. In the 18th century the sands and seaweed were collected by farmers for spreading on their fields.

Follow the path down to the sands and to the end of Bude Canal which is marked by a sea lock - this is still in working order. The canal was built in the 1820s with the original intention of taking the sea going craft all the way to Launceston 35 miles away. It is only navigable for 2 miles now. The boats were pulled up by chains and steam power, then the cargo had to be transferred from barges. Look out for the sand rails where tracks were laid to transport sand on to the canal barges.

Bude is a very pleasant place. More about it in the next walk.

Photos show: Widemouth Bay; Bude Haven and beyond looking northwards; Bude Canal and sea lock.

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