Walk - Whalesborough Farm- Hele Valley Walk

2.2 miles (3.5 km)

The Weir, Whalesborough Farm The Weir, Whalesborough Farm

Easy -

This is an inland walk following parts of the historic Bude Canal, including one of its fascinating inclined planes, and the quiet Hele Valley, alongside the River Strat. It also takes in the attractive village of Marhamchurch.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.


Award Winning - spacious, contemporary coastal home with enclosed garden just 5 mins from the Path. Pub, beach cafe and shop within easy reach. Sleeps 6 and dogs welcome. EV Charging Point available.

Efford Down Campsite

Basic hillside camping right in the heart of Bude. Close to SWCP, cafes, pubs, beaches and shops.

Canalside Bude

2 Bed, 2 Bath self catering apartment overlooking Bude's gorgeous canal. Walking distance from South West Coast Path, Pubs and Restaurants. Private Garden with BBQ.

The Tree Inn

The Tree Inn is a charming former Manor House dating back to the C13th. We offer 6 comfortable rooms, 2 bars, restaurant a flower filled courtyard.

Sea Jade Guest House

Sea Jade has 7 en-suite rooms. Single night stays welcome. Happy to help with travel arrangements.Come as a guest,leave as a friend.

Sunrise Guesthouse

The Bude Guest House, Sunrise is situated 200m from the South West Coast Path offering opportunity to walk both north and south using us as your base.

Widemouth Bay Caravan Park

Set in 50 acres of grounds in peaceful countryside with the famous Widemouth Bay within walking distance. A lively park, great for children with entertainment and an indoor pool. Self-catering & camping available.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Brendon Arms

Bude's best known inn, owned and run by the Brendon family since 1872.Overlooking Bude's inner harbour and 200 yards from the unique sea-lock and Summerleazes Beach.
What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Bayside Taxis

Family run friendly reliable taxi service 8-seater mini bus and car (dogs welcome) covering North Cornwall coast path

Bude Tourist Information Centre

Modern TIC, open 360 days of the year. Large resource of books, maps, guides, and local information. Free and comprehensive accommodation booking service/

Friends of Bude Sea Pool

FOBSP charity set up 10 years ago to save and enhance BSP. The SWCP goes along our perimeter path so people can enjoy a swim along the way too.

Trev's Taxi

A local taxi service based in Bude in the beautiful county of Cornwall. Providing an efficient service around Bude and surrounding areas. Particularly convenient for visitors walking the Coast Path.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

Keep an eye open for the occasional green Hele Valley Walk waymarks.

  1. From the cafe and wildlife centre at The Weir walk down the lane towards the A39 road.  Turn left through the parking area by the lake and then along the path to reach the Bude Canal.  Turn right to cross the footbridge and follow the footpath under the A39. At the end of the footpath, you will meet Hele Road.

The canal was opened in 1823. Its original purpose was to carry sea sand from the beaches of Bude to help improve the acidic soils of the inland agricultural area. However, it was also used to bring in coal and timber and to take out local agricultural produce. The coming of the railway ruined its trade and it ceased to operate as a waterway in 1901.
The plaque next to the canal commemorates the improvement works done in 2008 by the Bude Canal Partnership, a group of local bodies and councils, with EU financial help. Nearby is a piece of public art associated with this project, representing the links of a chain, with the Cornish inscription “Skathow Kibel”, meaning tub boats. These small, bath-tub shaped boats were what were used to carry goods on the canal.
Cross the footbridge then follow the path under the A39.
The footbridge crosses the River Neet, which flows into the canal here. The river helps to supply water to the canal. The path is alongside another feeder river, the River Strat, which here also forms the canal.
Almost immediately the path leaves the River Strat and continues alongside the now semi-dry canal to reach Hele Bridge.
Hele Bridge marks the end of the seaward length of the canal, which was wider than the inland sections.

  1. Turn left to cross Hele Bridge over the canal.  Go over a second bridge and then fork left to continue to follow the road as it runs parallel to the A39. Look for a pedestrian gate next to a field gate on the right into Hele Valley Community Woodland.
  2. Follow the permissive footpath into Hele Valley Community Woodland as it climbs along the edge of the field before coming to a choice of paths. The upper path keeps the woodland on your right before descending to the river. The lower path goes through the woodland close to the river.

Although referred to as the Hele Valley, this river is the River Strat. The river rises to the north-east, close to the Devon-Cornwall border and after supplying water to the Bude Canal near Hele Bridge joins the River Neet close to its mouth at Bude.
The path passes a seat covered with carved representations of otters.
Otters use this river as a habitat. Being shy creatures they particularly favour quiet and relatively remote waterways such as this. Although, until relatively recently, otters almost became extinct over much of England, they never disappeared from North Cornwall.
This area has been planted with some 12,000 trees since 2004 by the Rotary Club of Bude in conjunction with the landowners, the Grills family. This has made the valley a wildlife haven, for not only otters, but kingfishers, other birds and a range of butterflies.

  1. Emerging from the woodland, the path follows the river on your right to arrive at a minor road at a bridge crossing the River Strat. This is Pinch Bridge. On joining the road, turn right to cross the bridge.

Note there is a plaque on the bridge commemorating its rebuilding in 1936. At that time it was strengthened and widened, but the original bridge here dates back a long way. Before the construction of the A39 in the 19th century this was the main road between Bude and the village of Marhamchurch.

Continue up the road, Pinch Hill, and into Marhamchurch village.

Be mindful of traffic on this stretch.
Entering the village notice the name Old Canal Close on the left. The Bude Canal once crossed the road at this point on its journey inland.

  1. Reaching the village centre at Marhamchurch (the top of Pinch Hill) turn right onto Helebridge Road.

The village pub, shop and toilets are to the left.
The route passes St Marwenna church, which gives the village its name. Traditionally, St Marwenna, a 5th century Celtic saint was one of 24 sisters and brothers who sailed across from Wales to establish religious sites on the North Cornwall coast. Her original chapel was rebuilt in Norman times and then replaced by the present church in the 15th century. As well as being an attractive building in its own right, its tower serves as a landmark for sailors.

  1. A little way after the church look out for the public byway on the right (known as “Planekeepers Path”). Go along this track which bends to the left and heads downhill.

The “Planekeepers Path” refers to a signposted walking route following the line of the canal inland from Bude and returning cross country through Stratton. Leaflets are available for this very scenic, but quite a long walk (10 miles/ 16 km) from Bude Tourist Information Centre.
The area on the left of the path as it descends, now partly private gardens and partly a pumping station, was the line of the canal's Marhamchurch inclined plane. On most of the Bude Canal inclined planes were used rather than locks to raise and lower the boats. The tub boats had wheels at each corner, and these were engaged into rails on reaching the plane. The Marhamchurch plane was operated by a large waterwheel which powered an endless chain to which the boats were attached. It raised and lowered the boats 120 feet (36.5m) over a length of 836 feet (254.8m).

  1. Reaching some buildings turn left by the pumping station and follow the tarmac path that descends to the canal beside the line of the former Marhamchurch Inclined Plane.

Continue along the towpath until reaching Hele Road.

The buildings at the fork once housed an iron foundry. At the canal at the bottom, the bays for the two sides of the inclined plane can be seen. 

At the end turn left over the bridge to re-join the outward leg at point 2. Turn right, pass under the A39, cross the footbridge, turn left then right to return to The Weir.


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