Walk - Whalesborough Farm- Bude Valley
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the cafe and wildlife centre at The Weir walk down the lane towards the A39 road. Just beyond the fishing lake turn left through the parking area. The towpath running alongside the Bude Canal is on your right past the footbridge. Do not cross the footbridge.
The canal is the waterway coming under the road bridge. The waterway on the right, under the footbridge, is the River Neet, which supplies the canal with water.
The canal was built in 1823, primarily to carry sea sand inland to improve the soil, although it also carried coal, timber and agricultural goods. Its commercial use ended in 1901, although the lower part of the canal, followed on this route, remains an important recreational and historic feature.
A major renovation was carried out in 2008 and a small plaque commemorates this. Public art features, representing chains and other canal features, were also installed, engraved with inscriptions in Cornish and English.
- Continue along the towpath.
A little way along is a weir, where the River Neet leaves the canal and continues parallel to the canal to Bude.
A little further along is Whalesborough Lock. Although the canal system was 35 miles (56 km in total, the only locks were along this lowest length. Water was raised or lowered 5'6” (1.67m) here. The lock was renovated in 2008.
- Keep on the towpath past another lock to a small road bridge.
The second lock is Rodd's Bridge Lock, also renovated in 2008 and also raised or lowered the water level 5'6”. The road bridge is Rodd's Bridge.
- Cross the canal at Rodd's Bridge and immediately turn left along the towpath, now on the opposite side of the canal. The path passes areas of marsh and wetland.
Note on this length an original cast-iron distance marker, “1 Bude”.
The canal then approaches Bude, passing renovated storehouses and other canal buildings on the opposite bank. The canal then widens, the extra width providing laying-up areas for the boats.
- At this wider section of canal there is a parallel path to the right of the towpath. This is the return route, and for the short-cut version of the walk turn and walk back along this parallel path. For the full walk continue ahead, passing the Bude Tourist Information and Canal Visitor Centre and continue to the bridge.
This is Falcon Bridge. There was once a swing bridge here to accommodate the canal traffic.
- Cross the road and walk along the Wharf, the canal's main loading area.
At the Wharf there are a range of former canal buildings, including the Bark House, used for storing bark for the tanning process, the old warehouse and coal yard (now a brasserie) and the smithy (now a museum).
- Continue to the sea lock at the end.
This is one of only two sea locks in the country, one of the features that makes the Bude Canal so important as a heritage feature. Notice nearby the “sand rails”, which carried wagons filled with sand which was tipped onto the canal boats.
From the sea lock retrace your steps along the Wharf, cross the road and pass the Information Centre. Take the left-hand of the two parallel paths and follow this as it bears left, away from the canal across the reeds of Bude Marshes and then over the River Neet.
The Marshes form a Local Nature Reserve, important for a range of birds (sedge, willow and reed warblers, reed buntings, teal, wigeon, kingfishers) and insects, including dragonflies and damselflies. There are also ducks, herons, egrets, pied wagtails, golden plover, curlew and lapwings. Otters are known to frequent the Marshes.
The bridge over the River Neet is an old railway bridge with the girders still in place. This carried an old branch of the railway to the canal wharf. The path largely follows this line.
- Cross the bridge and continue to the road.
This road marks the line of the main route of the railway into Bude. The station was a little way to the left and this area was occupied by goods yards and sidings. Bude was a terminus station, being one of the termini of the Atlantic Coast Express from London Waterloo. The last train ran on this line in October 1966.
Pass the cafe and turn right towards the small industrial estate. Turn right again, back towards the marshland, and follow this path to the left.
The marshland on the right here is Petherick's Mill Marsh, an area of wetland and artificial scrapes with a similar range of wildlife to that of the earlier marshes. It also acts as a water holding area in times of flood.
- Keep ahead at the next junction and follow the path as it bears left and rises slightly.
This low embankment which the path now follows is that of the old railway.
Keep ahead and a little further on the path crosses a minor road.
Almost imperceptibly, the path has left the railway embankment and here the line of the railway is seen at the bridge on the left.
- Continue on the path, which then rises to the line of the old railway again by a water treatment works. Climb towards the A39 then fork to the right just before the road. Pass under the A39 and then go along the roadside path, following it as it bears left to a minor road. Here, the road crosses two bridges, the first over a river, the River Strat, and the second over the canal.
This is Hele Bridge. On the left, beyond the small car park and next to the canal are the old barge workshops, now a museum.
- Turn right immediately after the canal bridge, then immediately right again on a footpath next to the canal which passes under the A39.
Here the River Strat joins the canal, helping supply it with water.
Cross the footbridge over the River Neet so you can return to point 2 from the outward leg. Turn left along the path, go through the parking area, then turn right on the lane to return to The Weir.
The Weir, Bude (various), Petherick's Mill