Walk - Hartland Quay to Bude

15.2 miles (24.5 km)

Hartland Quay Bude

Challenging - Severe

This spectacular section is said to be the toughest part of the entire South West Coast Path and involves a long hard day of walking, with some very relentless and tiring ascents and descents. It is, however, definitely worth the effort! The Coast Path climbs above the rocky shoreline, notorious for shipwrecks (over 150 ships lost on the rocky outcrops between Morwenstow and Bude), past tumbling waterfalls, across secluded combes, crossing ten river valleys before easing on the approach to Bude.

There is a real sense of isolation here and the views are stunning, in particular those from Higher Sharpnose Point and Steeple Point. A less strenuous section, following enticingly sandy beaches, leads you into Bude and the end of this challenging and extremely rewarding section of the South West Coast Path.

Interactive Elevation

Highlights

  • Amazing rock formations around Hartland Quay: jagged finger like reefs reaching to the sea are exposed at low tide.
  • The unusual small mountain-like prominence of St Catherine’s Tor, believed to have had a Roman chapel or villa on top, with its waterfall tumbling to the beach below.
  • Standing and admiring the views to Lundy Island and the Coast Path ahead, surrounded by spring flowers such as pink thrift, sheeps bit, kidney vetch and bird’s foot trefoil.
  • The waterfall at Spekes Mill Mouth: the point where the two streams that rise on Bursdon Moor cascade down a sheer rock face and through a series of smaller falls before tumbling to the sea below.
  • The remains of ramparts at the Iron Age fort on Embury Beacon (157m, 515ft).
  • Enjoying a snack on the sand at Welcombe Mouth.
  • The view from Yeolmouth Cliff back to Gull Rock with its ‘Devil’s Hole’.
  • The Hawker’s Hut near Morwenstow is preserved by the National Trust and was originally built from timbers retrieved from shipwrecks by the eccentric poet and Anglican clergyman Robert Hawker (1803-1875). He is said to have spent many hours in his hut meditating, writing and smoking, inspired by the views over the Atlantic, and even entertaining guests, including Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Kingsley.
  • The fantastic views to the south from the tip of Steeple Point.
  • The beautiful beach and marine life of Duckpool. At dusk in July it is possible to see glow worms: a truly rare sight.
  • Bude and Stratton Town Museum: situated on the quay in Bude and housed in what was once the Bude Canal's blacksmith's shop. The museum holds a large collection of documents, paintings and photographs illustrating the history of Bude Canal. Open every day from Good Friday–September, 11.00-17.00. Tel: 01288 353576.
  • Finding a good place to eat, rest and watch the surfers enjoying "The long, wave and the thundering shores of Bude". (The Birth of King Arthur, Tennyson.)

Places of interest

  • Three miles from Hartland Quay is Taste of the West member Cheristow Lavender Farm (open daily 11.00-18.00 until 31st Oct). This 100 acre family farm includes a nursery and gift shop selling preserves, oils, pickles and lemon curd flavoured with lavender. There is also a tearoom serving local produce and home-baked cakes and scones. Tel 01237 440101.
  • Docton Mill Gardens and tea room at Lymebridge. Voted Best Cream Tea in Devon, at the 2007 North Devon Food & Drink Awards. Tel: 01237 441369.
  • The church of Morwenstow, the most northerly parish in Cornwall, is dedicated to St Morwenna and St John the Baptist. Much of the Norman sections of the church still remain and there are also 13th, 15th and 16th century additions, including a richly carved chancel screen and the remains of a wall painting thought to be of
    St Morwenna.
  • Exploring Bude Canal.

Shorter option

Walk the 7.5 miles (12km) to Morwenstow and continue to Bude on the next day.

Longer option

This walk should be enough for anyone!

Nearby refreshments

Hartland Quay Hotel and shop will provide refreshments at the beginning of the walk, but there are limited opportunities further on so it is worth planning ahead. There is the award-winning Big-Barn member The Rectory Farm Tearoom at Crosstown near Morwenstow, Tel: 01288 331251, and a seasonal National Trust café at Sandy Mouth. You will find a good selection of pubs, shops and restaurants in Bude.

Public transport

The First North Devon X9 bus runs every 2 hours from Exeter Bus Station to Stratton (and Bude).

From Stratton you can take the 319 to the village of Hartland.

Trains run regularly between Exeter and Barnstaple.

The Stagecoach 319 service runs between Barnstaple and Hartland.

For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Hartland Quay (Postcode for Sat Navs: EX39 6DU), Milford, Welcombe Mouth, Morwenstow, Duckpool, Sandy Mouth, Maer Cliff and Bude.

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