The Beach Blog
Bude in pictures: and interview with Clive Symm of Symages Photography
Clive Symm is a talented Cornish photographer specialising in surf, wedding, commercial, landscape and portrait photography, and over the years he’s taken some fantastic pictures in and around Bude.
We caught up with him recently to find out a little more about the man behind the lens, providing insights into what motivates him, his thoughts on Bude’s fantastic surf scene, and why he loves Bude Sea Pool.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into photography?
I’ve loved photography since I was at school, way before digital cameras were available. I worked at a local supermarket for the whole of the summer to save up and buy my first “proper” camera, a Ricoh KR10 Super and a 50mm lens. I’ve never stopped taking photos since then really. I’ve had a lot of sales jobs with some pretty big companies and being a photographer has always helped to build my profile within these. When I was at JVC I was often given their latest video cameras to take home and test.
You’ve taken some incredible pictures of the surf in and around Bude. What is it that motivates you to take pictures of surfing in particular?
Having surfed myself since the age of about 14 it’s a great way to enjoy two of my passions at the same time. Also taking the odd surf shot has helped me stay focused on the sea when I’ve been unable to surf due to injuries or ill health.
What’s your favourite thing about shooting around Bude?
Bude has a great “vibe” about it, it’s one of those places that always feels welcoming no matter what the weather’s doing, the scenery is stunning and the people are, mostly, friendly. I love just going for an unplanned walk with my camera and seeing what images I can come up with. It’s not often I get home disappointed with the results.
Bude has produced some of the best professional surfers in the country in recent years. Why do you think that is?
I think there’s loads of factors that have attributed to the success of our local surfers. Obviously we have some quality waves within a few miles of Bude and depending on the tide our local beaches can be surfed at almost any size. There aren’t that many days when there’s no surf. I’ve been doing this a long time and seen the amount of time and effort these athletes spend in the water improving their skills. They’re training constantly which makes a huge difference to their performance. There’s a great community spirit locally.
Bude Wave Riders, run by volunteers, offer a great introduction into surfing for very little outlay. Also our more experienced surfers seem quite happy to share their knowledge with the young, up and coming, super keen, groms. We have some excellent surf schools, some of which run “elite” clubs for the up and coming kids that show potential. They can even get one-on-one coaching from British and European champions if they want it. Obviously media coverage is a huge part of everything these days. Luckily we have some great local photographers and videographers who spend a lot of time, in and out of the water, capturing images and footage of these guys helping to show the world of what they’re capable of.
Do you surf yourself, and if so, where’s your favourite spot?
I do and my favourite local spot has to be any one of Bude’s three beaches. I live a couple of minutes away by foot from Crooklets and like being able to just wander down, check the conditions, get changed at home and be in the water within 10 minutes.
Your portfolio features some beautiful landscape pictures. Where is the most photogenic place you’ve come across in Cornwall?
Thank you, that’s a tough question, the whole of Cornwall is beautiful. I don’t really have a favourite. I’ll check the conditions, the time of year, when the sun sets, etc. and decide where to go on the day, could be anywhere…
We’ve also noticed Bude Sea Pool in lots of your images, and we’ve even shared a few of them ourselves. What do you think the pool brings to the local community?
I think it’s a fantastic facility, one of the best ocean pools in the country, definitely a great tourist attraction which brings people into town. I really enjoy capturing the different moods it seems to have, very photogenic and just 5 minutes from home.
What’s the most memorable or favourite image that you’ve ever taken?
I don’t really have a favourite but this image (below) always comes to mind. It was taken just down the coast from Bude on a very stormy winter day a few years ago. I just love the energy and movement, not to mention the timing of that wave breaking against the cliff in the background…
What would your ideal day in Bude consist of?
It would be warm and sunny with light offshore winds and the surf at first light would be about 4ft and clean. That’s when I’d get in for a wave. After a couple of hours I’d get out look back and see the surf building to 8ft. I’d check my phone for messages and see that the Ash brothers (two of my favourite local surfers) where going in for a wave. I’d grab my camera and shoot them until they got out. Have a quick look at the photos I’d taken and then head down to the sea pool for the sunset and maybe stay a little later to photograph the stars reflected in the water. Then on to The Beach for a drink at the bar.
Family days out in Bude
Bude is the perfect family-friendly resort, with award-winning beaches and plenty to do to keep children and teenagers entertained. In anticipation of the brand new family-friendly suites we’re introducing to the hotel, we’ve rounded up some activities that will keep the whole family entertained, with a variety of pastimes for whatever the weather.
Newly introduced this year, Segway Bude is a fun past-time and a great way to see the beautiful Cornish landscape. With qualified instructors and state-of-the-art segways to ride, you’ll be speeding along the countryside and coastal trails in no time. No previous experience of segway riding is required and although there is no minimum age restriction, riders need to be over 4ft tall and at least 32kg to operate one. Segway Bude also offer archery lessons, which a minimum age of seven years, and any children must be accompanied by an adult. Sessions
Learn to surf
Summerleaze Beach is right on our doorstep and it’s the perfect place to learn the art of surfing, with fun waves and suitable conditions for both experienced surfers and beginners. The beach is lifeguarded over the summer months, and there are several nearby surf schools offering wetsuit hire, group tuition or one-on-one lessons, including Big Blue Surf School, Bude Surfing Experience, and Raven Surf.
Voted as Trip Advisor’s top ten UK amusement parks last year, The Milky Way is an all-weather attraction with something for the whole family. The north Devon-based adventure park boasts a multitude of activities, facilities and fun for all ages, including dodgems, rollercoasters and high-octane rides for the thrill-seekers, and vibrant play areas, pottery painting and an 18 hole mini golf course for a more relaxed day out. Live shows are presented in the indoor arena and feature a daily schedule of things to watch, including scientific experiments, birds of prey, and an entertaining and educational journey through the solar system for ‘galaxy showtime’.
Stretching 21 acres into the Cornish countryside, the Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre houses plenty more animals and birds than you’d expect, including fallow and muntjac deer, owls, meerkats and wallabies. Guests can watch the British and Asian short clawed otters being fed at 12pm and 3pm every day, and see the sociable families playing together in their expansive enclosures. There are also nine birds of prey species to meet, including a Bengal eagle owl, a harris hawk, a kestrel and a buzzard, with insightful talks on the birds from a professional at 11:30am and 2:30pm every day.
Get on your bike
Cycling is a great way to see the Cornish landscape whilst getting out in the fresh air and burning off some of the kids energy. Bude Bike Hire have a range of bikes and equipment available to suit all abilities, with free, downloadable maps to help plan your route, which include the canal, coastal views or rugged farmland and countryside. It’s recommended that you book in advance where possible, and helmets are provided, with the optional add-ons of tag-alongs, trailers and child seats.
With a puzzling maze, a secret hobbit house and plenty of trails to explore, Hidden Valley Discovery Park is a unique day out. The grounds include six individual gardens within the park for visitors to enjoy, and a detective hunt with plenty of clues to solve. There is also a ‘forbidden mansion’, an impressive red brick building with a large labyrinth of rooms, secret passageways, concealed doors, upside-down rooms and exciting surprises. Guests can also ride on the miniature train that travels along mile-long railway track right around the perimeter of the park, and unlimited rides with all entry tickets to the park.
Associated with the legend of King Arthur, Tintagel Castle is steeped in history and a beautiful location to visit, whether exploring the castle, the Dark Age settlement or the fascinating museum dedicated to the impressive landmark. The beach below the castle is great for paddling in the sea and rock pooling, and exploring Merlin’s Cave is a must when the tide is out. Park in the centre of Tintagel and take a stroll down the road to the remains, with far-reaching views over the sea and along the coast. The site also hosts an array of events and exciting occasions such as archeology festivals and magical storytelling sessions, so be sure to check what’s on before you go. A wide range of gifts and souvenir items can be bought from the gift shop too, including toy swords and tapestries.
Active holidays in Bude
If you consider sunbathing a bore and you want more out of your holiday, Bude offers a wealth of great activities to keep you active during your stay. Our great coastal location means that we can take advantage of the outdoors, with the rugged north Cornwall coastline and beautiful countryside providing lots to do, with great indoor sporting facilities around the town too.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative way of seeing the sights, or want to continue training as you would at home, we’ve rounded up our favourite ways of keeping active in Bude that’ll make that delicious cream tea even more deserved.
A round of golf with a view
Book a round at Bude and North Cornwall Golf Club and enjoy the far-reaching sea views and sights of the north Cornish cliffs. The challenging course covers 18 holes and was voted one of Great Britain’s top 100 courses under £100 by National Club Golfer Magazine.
The club hosts a number of events and open competitions throughout the year, inviting both visitors and members of all abilities to enter, and there is a much-anticipated Golf Festival from 14-22 July which will see eight days of golf competitions and games.
Hit the gym
If the weather isn’t playing ball, hit the gym at The W Club which boasts a great selection of facilities, like a state-of-the-art fitness suite and hard tennis courts. If you need a little help or some top-tips for a beach-ready body, there are also highly qualified in-house trainers that can offer a free personalised induction. Once you’re done feeling the burn, hop into one of the plentiful saunas or steam rooms to wind down, or book yourself in for a relaxing massage or treatment.
Race across Tamar Lakes
Lower Tamar Lake was built in 1819 to supply water to Bude Canal, but has since become a hub of activity. Visitors can book kayak, canoe or sailing lessons with an experienced instructor, or hire the watercraft and enjoy the wild surroundings from the water, whilst trying to spot the kingfishers, butterflies, herons and dragonflies that are regularly seen on the water’s edge. There is also a weekly Tamar Lakes park run, taking place every Saturday morning at 9am which follows a pre-planned 5km loop along a mixture of tarmac paths, cinder and grass. The event is free but participants must sign up prior to the run here – http://www.parkrun.org.uk/tamarlakes/.
Summerleaze Beach is right on our doorstep and has some great surf conditions, regularly picking up the consistent Atlantic swell that hits the North Cornish coastline due to its west-facing position. When it’s too windy for most of the other surf spots on this stretch of coastline, Summerleaze Beach can still provide some fun waves, with suitable conditions for both experienced surfers and beginners. The beach is lifeguarded over the summer months, and there are several nearby surf schools offering tuition, including Big Blue Surf School, Bude Surfing Experience, and Raven Surf. If you’d like to try some surf spots a little further a field, we’ve rounded up our recommendations here.
Get on your bike
Cycling is said to be one of the most efficient forms of transport, and will allow you to see the incredible surrounding area. Bude Bike Hire have a range of bikes and equipment available to suit all ages and abilities, whether you’re planning on a leisurely ride along the canal or a challenging route along the winding country roads. They can also help with route planning, offering free, downloadable maps that will ensure you don’t get lost on your cycle, with loops that include the canal, coastal views or rugged farmland and countryside.
Hop on a horse
Broomhill Manor Stables is located on the outskirts of Bude, offering horse riding excursions and lessons for all ages and abilities on well-schooled horses and ponies. Beginners can ride around the grounds and along the quiet local lanes, whilst experienced riders can enjoy galloping along the beach and cliffs on sports horses or shire horses, taking in views of the beautiful Cornish coastline. One-on-one tuition can also be provided for first time riders wanting to learn the fundamentals, or for experienced riders wanting to improve their technique.
Take a walk
We’re in an ideal location for a coastal or canal-side walk, with the 600 mile stretch of the South-West Coast Path on our doorstep and Bude canal only a stone’s throw away. The canal route provides a long, flat walk with beautiful scenery and impressive wildlife, whilst the coastal path is a little more challenging, but still very rewarding with hidden coves and quiet beaches. We’ve rounded up our favourite walks in Bude here, but if you need a little more guidance, there are numerous guided walking tours available throughout the week leaving from the Tourist Information Centre.
Take a dip in Bude Sea Pool
Bude Sea Pool is a partly man-made and partly natural swimming pool tucked beneath the cliff at the northern side of Summerleaze Beach. The sea pool provides a safe haven for swimmers who can enjoy the benefits of wild swimming without having to worry about the dangers of the sea, such as rips, big waves and surfers. The pool stretches 100 metres in length, a great distance for laps, and provides a real sense of being in the sea. The sea pool is also home to a wild water polo club in the summer months and provides the perfect body of water for the swimming section of the Bude Junior Triathlon which takes place in early June.
The height of summer is still a little way off, but as the days are getting longer and weather is getting warmer, there’s a real sense of Spring in the air. Whilst the pathways are quiet and the temperature is mild, enjoy some of the fantastic rambling routes in and around Bude that we’d suggest.
Bude to Marsland Mouth – 10 miles
Beginning at the Tourist Information Centre in Bude, follow the canal towards the sea and pick up the cliff-top path. Walkers will pass Bude Sea Pool and Sandymouth Beach to find one of the most remote areas of coast in Cornwall.
Maer Cliff – 2.1 miles
For views of two sandy beaches and an easy going footpath, an amble along Maer Down is ideal. Beginning at Northcott Mouth and finishing in Crooklets Beach, this walk is only around a mile long, perfect for visitors looking to quickly blow away the cobwebs. The nearby nature reserve is recognised internationally as a resting and feeding site for migratory birds that are blown by strong Atlantic gales, and the cliffs remain of geological importance. Although the path is exposed to occasionally harsh weather, the cliff remains laden with wild flowers. Northcott Mouth and Crooklets Beach are renowned for rock pooling, and whilst Crooklets has a seasonal ban on dogs, Northcott welcomes them all year round.
Bude Canal – 5.6 miles
As an alternative to a coastal path, Bude Canal offers a peaceful landscape with plenty of wildlife. The walk is predominately flat, with a low hill between the canal and coast path, ideal for children or wheelchair users. The path is bustling with pipits and buntings in the autumn, who are searching for pickings in the newly-harvested fields found alongside the canal. Bring a picnic and watch the kayaks and boats glide past in a picturesque setting.
Duckpool & Woodford – 5.1 miles
The walk along Duckpool Beach and the coastal path is known for its wildlife and small, but well-known, beach. The circular walk is around five miles and although the tide is too dangerous for swimming at any time of the year, the beach is a uncrowded hidden gem, which almost completely disappears at high tide.
Bude Town Trail – 4 miles
With a beautiful coastline, it is easy to forget that Bude’s town trail is full of culture, history and beautiful views. When walking along Summerleaze Crescent and heading inland, walkers will come across pit stops such as the Clifton Memorial Stone and Bude Marshes Local Nature Reserve.
Hawker’s Hut walk – 1 mile
This is a gentle walk on the cliffs of North Cornwall which encompass an array of breathtaking views. Walkers will come across historical landmarks, such as a beautiful church which is believed to date back to Saxon times, as well as Hawker’s Hut, the refuge of poet Reverend Robert Hawker. There is plenty of local wildlife and on a clearer day visitors can see Lundy Island.
Dunsdon to Vealand Farm Wild Walk – 4 miles
This child and dog friendly walk is around four miles and three hours long. Explore the grassland meadows and wander along the waterway before finding the Vealand Farm nature reserve, full of ponds, hedges and meadows.
Images courtesy of Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall.
POLDARK FILMING LOCATIONS
The widely anticipated second series of popular British television drama Poldark returns to BBC1 on the 4th of September which means that once again the beautiful Cornish coastline will be making a regular appearance on screens across the UK. The plot is based on the acclaimed novels written by Winston Graham, and is set in various rugged locations around Cornwall. The final episode of series 1 left audiences in suspense after Ross Poldark is arrested for murder and wrecking, leaving his beloved Demelza distraught. To prepare viewers for the second series, we have picked out some of the filming locations around Cornwall which featured in the drama, for visitors to explore.
Bodmin Moor was largely featured in the first series of Poldark and the cast and crew became very familiar with the 200 square kilometres of grassland and heather. It was the perfect backdrop for many scenes, including capturing cast members on horseback. The passion and family dramatics that Poldark is famous for are replicated within Bodmin Moor’s rugged views and stormy landscape. This was also where a number of the miners’ cottages were based along with Ross Poldark’s house, Nampara.
Port Quin, located just past Port Isaac was also featured in the TV series. The peaceful area that remains unscathed by visiting boats is ideal for conjuring up images of past settings and scenery.
The traditional appearance and collection of ships caught the eye of locations managers for Poldark and for some scenes it was used as the principal town. The original grade two listed harbour featuring plenty of tall ships allows visitors to be transported back to the 18th century, into Graham Winston’s setting.
The North Cornwall coast line was used for plenty of cliff scenes, and a lot of regular visitors will recognise the Camel Estuary and Tregirls beach. The wide, sandy beach of Porthcothan was also used in series one along with the headland at Stepper Point, which was used for some of the more dramatic cliff scenes, including horse drawn carriages filmed soaring across cliff tops.
Although Corsham in Wiltshire was Truro’s double for filming purposes, the Cornish city Truro was the author’s original inspiration for the story of Poldark. Therefore it only seemed apt to use the location for the world premiere of the series. Locals, producers, writers and headline cast members joined together for the first exclusive viewing of the first episode and claimed their first reviews, which were full of praise.
Images courtesy of Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall.
BUDE SEA POOL
Bude Sea Pool is a partly man-made and partly natural swimming pool tucked beneath the cliff at the northern side of Summerleaze Beach.
The sea pool provides a safe haven for swimmers who can enjoy the benefits of wild swimming without having to worry about the dangers of the sea such as rips, big waves and surfers.
The sea pool relies on management from the Friends of Bude Sea Pool (FoBSP), a local volunteer-run charity set up to maintain the sea pool and maintain it’s landmark status in Bude.
We spoke to Fay Hargreaves, a member of the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, to learn more about this fantastic facility.
How and why was the Friends of Bude Sea Pool charity created?
FoBSP was created due to the reaction from the public – both locals and visitors – to Cornwall Council’s withdrawal of funding for Bude Sea Pool. The council were going to demolish it due to ongoing maintenance costs.
The tide bashes the pool twice daily therefore the fabric of the pool is compromised. Coupled with the lack of investment over preceding years this meant a lot of money was needed to bring it back to life, and safety standards.
How do Friends of Bude Sea Pool make a difference?
FoBSP are a small committee supported by a larger group of volunteers who are passionate about Bude Sea Pool.
Bude relies on tourism for its economy and therefore the businesses are very supportive. FoBSP raise funds via advertising businesses, membership, beach hut rentals, deckchair rentals, events, merchandise sales, donations and grants.
We raise the profile of Bude Sea Pool via social media interaction, and proactively highlighting the profile of Bude as a holiday destination. The funds are all used to bring the pool up to date with maintenance to ensure the safety standards are met as best possible practice.
Funds also encourage local engagement, for example, starting a water polo club with a grant from Sport England.
What makes Bude Sea Pool an important feature on Summerleaze Beach?
Summerleaze Beach is the first beach visitors go to when entering Bude, it is safe swimming on the North Atlantic coast, making it very family friendly. It is also used for training.
Bude Surf Life Saving Club use the pool for nippers training, and surf schools use it for beginner surf lessons sometimes when the sea is too rough.
Who uses Bude Sea Pool?
Many locals and visitors use the natural pool instead of swimming in the sea or chlorinated water of leisure pools. The canoe club uses it sometimes, and schools use the pool for lessons.
Why is it important to maintain Bude Sea Pool?
It is vital to retain Bude Sea Pool as a free amenity, for safe swimming in an otherwise hazardous area, with large sea swells and many rescues, especially in the summer months.
Visitors to Bude use the pool and Bude relies on tourism for it’s economy. Historically Bude Sea Pool was built in 1930 to save lives; this heritage is continued today and we hope it will continue for many generations to come.
How does seawater quality or pollution affect Bude Sea Pool?
The run off from the valleys when it rains a lot comes down the river in to the sea, this in turn washes into the pool twice daily. Equally it is safe to swim most of the time.
The only times the pool is closed is when the sea is polluted by South West Water and we are notified from doing sampling. Mostly the water is fresh and clean and a wonderful place to swim or play.
For more information on the pool and how to find it, go to Friends of Bude Sea Pool
Images courtesy of Symages Photography, Visit Cornwall and Adam Gibbard.
TOP 5 SURFING BEACHES IN BUDE
Bude and the surrounding area is home to some of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches. With a predominantly west-facing aspect, the beaches are exposed to the incoming Atlantic swells that wrap themselves around the North Cornish coastline.
Due to the popularity of the beaches most are lifeguarded too, which is always worth checking before entering the water. We’ve rounded up our five favourite beaches around Bude for you to take to the waves, with some breaks suitable for learners and some that only experienced surfers should attempt to paddle out in.
Right on our doorstep, Summerleaze is a west-facing beach that picks up the Atlantic swell regularly brought to the North Cornish coastline. When it is too windy for most of the other surf spots on this stretch of coastline, Summerleaze beach can provide some fun waves for everyone, with suitable conditions for both experienced surfers and beginners.
The beach is lifeguarded over the summer months, and there are several nearby surf schools offering courses for complete novices or intermediates wanting to brush up on their skills. Choose from Big Blue Surf School, Bude Surfing Experience, and Raven Surf. To see the conditions of the waves before you get your wetsuit on, check the report.
Stretching over a mile and a half, Widemouth Bay is the most popular surf break along the immediate coastline, with surfers of all abilities sharing the waves. This beach is perfect for learners, and is great for experienced surfers towards high tide.
In 2014, the beach was graded ‘excellent’ for its water quality from the Marine Conservation Society Good Beach Guide. Check conditions at the report and webcam, and for surf hire and lessons, choose from Outdoor Adventure or Freewave Surf Academy. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards every day between 30 April and 25 September.
This beach faces west and works best with offshore conditions and is not recommended for beginners due to its potentially dangerous rips and currents with bigger waves, although RNLI lifeguards are present at the beach patrolling every day between 21 May and 25 September.
The beach is owned by the National Trust and has a car park nearby. From the car park to the beach, you must walk through a reasonably steep ravine and down some steps, so is not recommended for the less mobile. The beach also allows dogs year round, and has a seasonal cafe and toilets. For surf hire, visit Sandymouth Surf School, and for the surf report, check the webcam.
When the surf is reasonably small, Northcott is suitable for beginners; however when it gets slightly bigger, rips can make it suitable only for experienced surfers. When the conditions are good, Northcott sees some big waves, so it’s always worth checking the forecast before entering the water.
During high tides, and particularly spring high tides, the sea can submerge rocks at the base of the cliffs, which can be very dangerous when surfing. At low tide the wreck of the SS Belem is revealed, so keep an eye out for that. This beach is lifeguarded every day between 4 July and 6 September, and a webcam and report is available to check conditions for the beaches either side of Northcott Mouth – Crooklets and Sandymouth – so will give an idea of what the surf looks like there. This is also a National Trust beach, with a small carpark above, and surf hire is only available from the beaches either side.
Crooklets is a short drive north along the coast from Bude and the place to be for experienced surfers who love a right. This break works well in easterly winds and on most tides due to being west-facing, however watch out for submerged rocks at high tide and occasional rips.
This beach has great facilities, with a large car park, a children’s play area, a skate park, a beach cafe and showers, and has lifeguards on duty every day between 6 May and 27 September. You can see what the waves are like via the report and webcam for Crooklets, and surf hire is available from the nearby Big Blue Surf School.