Walk - Whalesborough Farm- The Bude Loop

Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2022. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.

Route Description

  1. From the cafe and wildlife centre at The Weir walk down the lane towards the A39 road. At the bottom of the slope go through the gate on the right by the parking area at a public footpath sign. Go into the field and climb diagonally to the right to reach a gate in the hedge.
  2. Go through this gate and cross the next field diagonally to the left on the clear path to reach a gap in the hedge at the top.

From here there are wide-ranging views inland. Especially obvious is the village of Marhamchurch, its church tower particularly prominent. It gets its name from St Marwenne, a 5th century Celtic saint.
Go through the gap and continue ahead next to the hedge, keeping it to the left, to a gate at the top.
At the gate the coast at Widemouth Bay, a popular surfing centre, is visible ahead and left.

  1. Cross the next field diagonally left to the gap in the bottom corner. Pass through the gap then continue downhill, keeping the hedge to the right. Follow the path round to the gate onto the coast road (Marine Drive), cross the road and follow the path opposite to the near end of the building.

The building is called Salthouse and dates from the 18th century. In the past it has been a salt store and a fish cellar and as recently as 1900 it was the only building in Widemouth Bay.
(Note that refreshments are available at the Bay View Inn a little way down the road.)

  1. The walk has now reached the South West Coast Path. Look out for the acorn waymarks. Turn right here, the path climbing gently and curving left to pass around the headland of Lower Longbeak.

The headland gives splendid views over Widemouth Bay, and beyond along the coast to the distinctive triangular shape of Cambeak, near Crackington Haven. In the other direction, notice the convoluted geology evident in the strata in the cliffs trending in all directions.

  1. From the end of the headland follow the surfaced path, then bear left onto a narrower grassy path before reaching the car park. The Coast Path climbs gently, closer to the cliff top, then crosses a little valley to pass Phillip's Point, a nature reserve.

Phillip's Point was acquired by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 1983 and is valuable for its varied semi-natural coastal habitats.

  1. The path continues close to the road then veers to the left to pass between some properties and the cliff top. Entering a large open field keep ahead then descend to the bottom of a shallow valley. Climb the opposite side, keeping to the cliff top, to reach the viewpoint of Efford Beacon.

There was once a warning light for shipping here. It gives superb views, as far south as Trevose Head with its lighthouse on a clear day and north over Bude.

  1. The Coast Path descends along the cliff top to a gate at the end of a stone wall. Pass through and continue descending gently to reach the building on the next headland, Compass Point.

Locally called the Pepper Pot this was designed as a landscape feature for the local landowner, Sir Thomas Acland. In 1885 it had to be moved because of coastal erosion but was re-erected out of alignment so that its compass points are no longer strictly accurate.

  1. From Compass Point continue along the cliff top, descending slowly towards the beach below. Descend some steps and turn right along a tarmac path. Turn left through a gate at the end and then left again, through a gap in the wall and down steps to the sea lock. Cross the lock gates.

The sea lock is one of only two in the country and marks the end of the Bude Canal. The canal was completed in 1823, primarily to carry sea sand inland to improve the quality of the soil. A total of 35 miles (56 km) was built. It was abandoned as a working canal in 1901, ruined by the arrival of the railway, but the lowest 2 miles (3.25 km) is still used as a recreational feature.

  1. From the lock turn right alongside the canal to the Wharf.

There are a number of former canal buildings here, including the smithy (now a museum), the warehouse and coal yard (now a brasserie) and the Bark House, which stored bark for the tanning trade.
At the end of the Wharf cross the road next to the bridge and continue along the path next to the canal.
The bridge was formerly a swing bridge to allow for canal traffic. Next to the path is a small “milestone” commemorating the renovations of 2008, as well as pieces of public art depicting chains and other canal equipment, engraved with inscriptions in Cornish and English.

  1. The towpath continues past marshland then arrives at a small road bridge.

Note on this section an original cast-iron distance marker “1 Bude”.

  1. Cross the canal at the road bridge (Rodd's Bridge) and continue along the footpath on the far side of the canal. A little further on is Rodd's Bridge Lock.

This length of the canal is the only section that had locks. Further inland, boats were raised and lowered by means of inclined planes. This lock raised and lowered the level by 5'6” (1.67m). It was renovated in 2008.
Continue along the towpath to Whalesborough Lock.
This is the third and last of the locks. It had the same rise and fall as Rodd's Bridge and was also renovated in 2008.
Keep on the towpath, passing the weir, to arrive at a junction of waterways.
The canal is the waterway passing under the road. The waterway crossed by the footbridge is the River Neet, which feeds water into the canal and then leaves it at the weir passed a little earlier.

  1. Continue ahead along the gravel path and through the car parking area to the lane. Turn right to return to The Weir.

Nearby refreshments

The Weir, Bay View Inn (Widemouth Bay), Bude (various)

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