Walk - Maer Cliff

2.1 miles (3.4 km)

Northcott Mouth beach - EX23 9ED Northcott Mouth beach

Easy - Footpaths may be muddy, and the cliffs are unstable in places, so keep well away from the cliff edges.

A leisurely amble over Maer Down between two sandy beaches, on good paths with fine sea views over the rocky reefs and offshore islets. The cliffs are of geological importance and the nearby nature reserve is internationally recognised as as an important resting and feeding site for migratory birds blown in by fierce Atlantic gales. Despite its frequent exposure to the weather, the grassland above the cliffs is vivid with bright wildflowers in summer, and Crooklets Beach has full facilities. Both beaches are excellent for rockpooling.

Crooklets Beach has a seasonal ban on dogs, but they are welcome throughout the year at Northcott Mouth.

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.

Tee-side Guesthouse

Lovely B&B accommodation centrally located minutes from the Path, town & restaurants. Free WiFi. Visit England 4 Star Award Winning Full English Breakfast, vegetarian options available.

Sea Jade Guest House

Sea Jade has 7 en-suite rooms and one other with a private bathroom. Happy to help with travel arrangements.Come as a guest,leave as a friend.

The Grosvenor Guest House

Situated on the Path offering a variety of comfortable rooms, hearty breakfast, local produce, packed lunch, WI-FI, bar & drying facilities

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.

Penhalt Farm Holiday Park

Our aim is that you should enjoy a happy carefree holiday using Penhalt Farm as a base to explore this beautiful corner of the South West

North Shore Bude Backpackers

Comfortable self-catering with free wi-fi in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Close to beaches,restaurants & bars with seaviews and large garden.

Cerenety Eco Campsite

Old fashioned, peaceful, back to nature farm camping. Indulge in campfires and ball games while having a limited impact on the environment.

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.

Rectory Farm Tea Rooms

13 Century tearooms are situated just a 5 minute walk from the South West Coast Path. Serving morning coffee, cornish cream teas, homemade cakes and light lunches. Open 11am-5pm daily Easter to October.

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.

Trev's Taxi, Bude

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.

Bayside Taxis

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

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park at Northcott Mouth walk down the road towards the coast and pick up the South West Coast Path on your left-hand side just before the beach. The path makes its way through the grassland above Maer Cliff and heads for the track by The Bungalow. Turn right on the track, following the Coast Path back towards the cliffs a moment later to carry on above the shoreline, along the edge of Maer Down. Stay on the Coast Path all the way down to Crooklets Beach.

At Menachurch Point, just beyond Northcott Mouth, are the remains of the SS Belem, a Portuguese steamship which ran aground in thick fog in November 1917. Although all 33 aboard were saved, the Belem was wrecked, and pieces of the vessel can still be seen on the beach at certain states of the tide. The propeller shaft sits on the end of Bude's breakwater, supporting the barrel on Barrel Rock.

The stretch of coast between here and Duckpool has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rock formations. On the cliffs and foreshore there is a visible sequence of alternating shales, mudstones and siltstone, with beds of sandstone between them. If you look closely at the sandstones you can see the traces of ancient sand, volcanoes and other features generated by storm-driven waves in shallow water.

This is part of the Bude Formation, formed on what were then ocean beds in the Carboniferous period, a little over 300 million years ago. These layers, or strata, were later compressed by Earth movements during a mountain-building period known as the Variscan orogeny. The huge pressures involved deformed them into the dramatic patterns visible on the cliffs on this part of the coast today.

There are important fossils in the shales, including fragments of fish, as well as ammonites and other crustaceans. These are further evidence that these layers of sediment were laid down in shallow water, and geologists have been able to use them to date the rocks.

  1. From Crooklets beach make your way up to the main car park above it, carrying on ahead at the crossroads beyond it to walk to Maer Down Road, on the left.
  2. Turn left on Maer Down Road, bearing left in front of Hawker's Court, and follow the road to the Downs. Continue ahead along the bridleway, staying on it back to The Bungalow. From here retrace your steps to Northcott Mouth car park.

The round mounds on the downs are Bronze Age tumuli, or burial mounds, from between 3000 and 5000 years ago. There are other traces of human history here, including the last remnants of a medieval settlement, with associated field systems and a wide trackway from a slightly later period. At Crooklets there are the remains of rifle butts from a few centuries ago, and twentieth-century gun emplacements, used in the Second World War for firing practice. There were also 'dragons teeth' anti-tank obstacles at Northcott, and a pillbox, to defend the cove from any enemy landing, although these have now gone. Craters from enemy bombing are still visible on the Downs.

In spring and summer the cliffs and Downs are carpeted with wildflowers here: daffodils and primroses are followed by the pale blue stars of spring squill and the softlilac of early scurvy grass. In summer clumps of pink-headed thrift and freckled white sea campion flowers are a splash of colour against the sea. Yellow bird's-foot trefoil flowers contrast vividly with the purple vetch twining around the tall stands of hawkweed and foxgloves and the white umbrella heads of wild carrot.

Inland, on the far side of Maer Lane, is the Maer Lake Nature Reserve. This 25-acre wetland meadow was first mentioned in 1284, when it was referred to as 'La Mere' ('The Sea'). Later local farmers used it as an area of wet grazing. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust acquired it in 1983 and now manage it as an ornithological site. The Trust introduced an artificial sluice to cause permanent flooding, instead of just winter pools, creating islands. An attractive roosting area on the islands drew in lapwings and golden plovers, and waders such as dunlin and snipe feast on grubs and other crustaceans in the thick silt created by the standing water. In the winter ducks such as widgeons and teals fly in to join them.

Recently the reserve has been recognised as an important resting and feeding site for migratory birds blown in by Atlantic winds. Frequent visitors include swans such as Bewick and whooper swans, and a wide range of other species including sandpipers and spoonbills, and even the marsh harrier, which can be recognised by its long tail and V-shaped wings as it hunts over the grassland in search of small mammals. The reserve is not open to the public, but it is visible from the road.

Public transport

Bude is well-served by buses. For details click on the interactive map, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

At Northcott Mouth and at Crooklets

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