The Beach Blog
Bude Surf Life Saving Cornwall
Bude’s beaches are one of the main reasons so many people visit our award-winning seaside town every year, and we all know a visit to the beach isn’t complete without a little dip in the sea. Whether it’s just a quick paddle, or making the most of the Atlantic waves rolling in, our local surf life saving club is always on hand keeping Bude’s waters safe.
But did you know that Bude Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) was the very first surf life saving club in Britain?
Its history has international roots, with Australian surfers inspiring its creation. World War II pilots from Australia, based at nearby St Mawgan during the war, would often check out the Cornish coast when flying, on the hunt of good surfing beaches – which of course, there are plenty.
A couple of years after the war, two Australian lifeguards from Byron Bay came to the UK for work, and after remembering the pilots’ stories, they set their sights on Cornwall in the hunt for a suitable surf club location. They settled on Bude, and with the help of a local youth group, the ‘bronze squad’ was created. The Aussies then got to work on training the team, which got quite a lot of attention from people watching on the beach. There was such a buzz around examination day for the lifeguards, that even the BBC turned up.
Bude SLSC is now thought to be one of the longest-established clubs of its kind in the northern hemisphere. The self-financing club holds a number of popular fundraising events throughout the year, including its annual Christmas Day swim, which attracts a few thousand people. They’re often fun to watch, or even join in sometimes, so keep an eye on their Facebook page to find out about upcoming events.
Thanks to the success of Bude SLSC, our town is a great place to come and learn to surf safely. Or, if you’re an experienced surfer, you can enjoy the water sport with the reassurance that someone will have your back in an emergency. As one of Cornwall’s top surfing destinations, find out more about the top surfing beaches in Bude.
If you want to come and enjoy a surfing holiday in Bude, why not book a room in our boutique hotel? Located just a few minutes walk from Summerleaze Beach, you can be in water just moments after stepping out of our front door.
Surfing in a group? Why not try one of our suites? Sleeping up to four guests, with added lounge space to relax after spending time in the water, it’s the perfect retreat for a surfing escape in Cornwall.
View our availability online, or call our reception team on 01288 389800.
Bude beach huts
A row of brightly coloured beach huts is the ultimate in old school beach charm that is not always a common sight on the beaches of Cornwall. Here in Bude, we are one of the few Cornish places where they are found and we are lucky enough to have beach huts on both Crooklets Beach and Summerleaze Beach.
What could be nicer than enjoying a swim or surf in the Atlantic and then drying off in a beach hut before sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea – or a glass of wine – watching the sun drop below the horizon?
Beach huts are a charmingly traditional way to enjoy our beaches, providing a private space to change, prepare lunch or tea, or shelter from either the sun or breeze (what rain?). We also think they make a great place to store beach equipment overnight whilst on your holiday.
Here in Bude, we have a wide choice of beach huts, with three-quarters of the huts available for short term hire (for three or seven days, or longer, depending on the time of the year). Ranging in size for use from four to eight people, there is a choice of beach huts that includes fully accessible huts, making them an excellent base for those with limited mobility, or for families.
The heyday of the beach hut came in the 1950s with the resurgence of the UK beach holiday after beaches and beach huts were reopened after the end of the second world war, but the beach hut has returned to popularity in recent years. Traditionally beach huts were wooden buildings, often repurposed fishing or bathing huts. In Bude, a lot of the beach huts are purpose-built after extensive investment to provide beautiful and practical holiday facilities to locals and visitors alike.
The beach huts offer a variety of views across Bude’s award-winning beaches, with the huts at the front enjoying uninterrupted access to the sand, surf and sunsets for which Bude is famed.
Of course, we do sometimes have weather from which shelter is required. The beach huts mean that our beautiful beaches can be enjoyed in all weathers and visitors make the most of the fresh sea air, even in inclement weather as all the huts have windows, and there is space for deckchairs inside the hut once the table is folded away.
If you’re planning on staying with us and would like more information on hiring a beach hut, please contact our reception on 01288 389800, where one of our friendly team would be delighted to advise.
Learning to surf in Bude
Surfing is a big part of the beach lifestyle here in Bude. If you’re joining us here at The Beach at Bude and want to learn to this popular water sport, read on to find out about the best surf schools in the area.
If you also want to see a round-up of our favourite beaches around Bude to take to the waves, head to our blog post about the top five surfing beaches in Bude.
One of the closest surf schools to our hotel overlooking Summerleaze Beach, the Big Blue Surf School has taught around 30,000 people to surf over the last 15 years. Open all year round, they even have extra thick wetsuits which will keep you warm if you want to try surfing in the winter. They offer lesson to anyone aged eight and up, and all equipment is included in the cost of your lessons.
Another of the surf schools located just moments from the hotel on Summerleaze Beach, Bude Surfing Experience offers daily surf lessons which are perfect for beginners. The two and a half hour lessons are run in groups of up to eight people. The team are also on hand at Summerleaze Beach if you are someone with a keen interest in surfing and just want a few tips of how to improve.
Running everything from classic water sports such as surfing and kayaking, to extreme sports and multi-sport events such as the Bude Triathlon, Shoreline Extreme Sports have an experienced team on hand to teach you to surf. Running its surf lessons from Crooklets Beach, you’ll be in safe hands – as this is also where the town’s surf life saving club is based.
Providing surf lessons on Widemouth Bay, just a few miles south of Bude, this surf school was established in 1981, making it one of the first surf schools in Cornwall. They specialise in teaching beginners, whether learning on your own, with family or in a group. Being on Widemouth Bay, it is close enough to Bude so you don’t have to travel far when staying in the award-winning beach resort, but it is away from the crowds giving you all the space you need to learn and gain confidence.
Another surf school at Widemouth Bay, Freewave Surf Academy provide surfing lessons for complete beginners, as well as taster lessons to help remind those who have tried it before of the basics. From a two hour session, up to a three day intensive course, the instructors will help you to develop your skills and confidence to take to the waves on your own in no time.
Looking for somewhere to stay on your surfing holiday to Cornwall? Take a look at our range of rooms and availability online, or call 01288 389800 for more information.
Stand up paddleboarding in Bude
If surfing is a little too high-paced for you, have a go at the UK’s fastest growing water sport – stand up paddleboarding (SUP).
Paddleboarding involves standing or kneeling on a paddleboard, which is basically a large surfboard, and propelling yourself using a single paddle and alternating long strokes either side of the board through the water.
You don’t have to be super fit or into sport to have a go at paddleboarding. It is easy to pick up and you can go at your own speed, and it’s also really good for your core and balance. It’s well known as being a fun activity to do in a group, so if you’re in Bude on a family holiday or in a celebration party then this is definitely an activity worth investigating.
Bude Surfing Experience can meet you at the Bude Tourist Information Centre, where the instructors will teach you the basics of SUP before setting off on your paddleboarding adventure in one of the following locations:
Experience SUP on the open sea, with free rein of the Atlantic ocean and the opportunity to explore the rugged coastline of north Cornwall from a different perspective. Launching from Summerleaze Beach provides the most authentic stand up paddleboarding experience in Bude, with the salty sea air breezing through your hair as you glide through the rippling water.
Bude Sea Pool
The semi-natural pool is a calm location which is perfect for SUP beginners, providing a safe haven to practice the water sport without having to worry about rip tides, big waves and getting in the way of surfers. Paddle up and down the pool, mastering the technique and practicing manoeuvres and turns before progressing to the sea.
Unique to Bude, this is the only canal in Cornwall and therefore the only place in the county where you can experience SUP in this type of environment on the calm, winding waterways. Taking a gentle paddle along the canal allows you the chance to take in all the beautiful wildlife and greenery which surrounds the area.
A SUP session with Bude Surfing Experience starts from £35 per person, including all equipment, and is suitable for all ages from eight upwards.
Bude is consistently voted as the UK’s Best Coastal Town at the British Travel Awards year-upon-year, but it’s not just our facilities which get us top marks. The combination of crystal clear waters, golden sands and green spaces also contribute, and we’re pleased to be recognised as such an environmentally conscious town.
One of the things Bude is most famous for is its beaches. Our award-winning coastal town is lucky to host multiple beaches along the Atlantic coastline; and three of them have been given internationally recognised awards, showcasing a high quality environment which regularly attracts families and keen water sport enthusiasts.
Widemouth Bay, Summerleaze Beach and Crooklets Beach all hold a Seaside Award, with Widemouth Bay also winning a coveted Blue Flag, one of only seven in Cornwall. Criteria to meet these awards is based on elements such as good water quality, availability of educational information about the beach environment, and facilities such as public toilets and lifeguards – proving Bude is a fun and safe environment for a seaside holiday.
But maintaining these high quality beaches can be hard work. Bude has a very active community which cares about the environment, and even its very own environmental group, A Greener Bude, which works hard to ensure Bude is as sustainable and environmentally-friendly as possible.
Under this group there are many people working together towards a common goal of improving marine and environmental pollution, climate change and the economy and health of Bude’s community. Initiatives throughout the town include beach cleans and a cleaner seas project, helping to maintain the high quality beaches and bathing spots which are arguably the town’s biggest attractions; a biodiversity trail, which works on the conservation of plants and wildlife; and a big push on reusing and refilling products, minimising the need for single-use plastic and waste.
Want to get involved? Join a tribe of likeminded individuals on the first Saturday of every month at Crooklets Beach for a beach clean, taking place from 10am until 12pm with all equipment provided.
After all your hard work, why not join us at The Beach for some refreshments? Warm up in winter with a rich hot chocolate, or sip one of our signature cocktails in the sunshine on our terrace. For something a little more substantial, our lunchtime offer of two courses for £15 or three for £18 is a great way to reward yourself for helping to keep our town clean and tidy.
UK staycations aren’t just enjoyed by humans. If you’re a dog owner then it is often hard to leave your four-legged friends at home.
Due to popular demand, we are pleased to provide our first dog-friendly accommodation offering in one of the newly-finished suites, with tiled flooring throughout making it perfect for clearing up sandy paw prints.
The Retreat benefits from two bedrooms which can both be made up as doubles or twins (perfect for families or a group of friends travelling together), a family sized bathroom and a large well appointed kitchen-diner and lounge.
Our terrace also welcomes dogs all year round, so even if you’re not staying with us in the hotel you can join us for a drink and bite to eat after your dog walk.
Bude boasts a variety of footpaths and trails perfect for dog walking. From the leisurely two-mile stretch of flat tarmac path along the Bude canal, to the rugged South West Coast Path connecting Bude to nearby beaches such as Crackington Haven to the south and Marsland Mouth to the north. For culture seekers wanting to find out a little more about Bude’s history, the four-mile circular town trail is also a nice route to be accompanied by your dog.
With so many beaches in the Bude area, it’s always useful to know when and where dogs are allowed at certain times of the year. Sandymouth, Northcott Mouth and Black Rock beaches are dog-friendly all year round with no restrictions. The only restriction on Summerleaze Beach is that dogs must be on leads between 21 May and 30 September. Finally, Widemouth Bay and Crooklets Beach only allows dogs on the beach between 1 October and 31 March.
Book your next stay at The Beach at Bude online, or call our reservation team on 01288 389800 to discuss your requirements.
Bude Christmas Day swim
The main event in the Bude Christmas calendar is the annual Christmas Day swim.
Hosted by Bude Surf Life Saving Club, over 500 people brave the icy cold waters to take part each year in the ‘no wetsuits’ swim, which has been running for around 35 years to raise money in memory of former member Mike Moyle.
Taking place at Crooklets beach, crowds of swimmers plunge into the Atlantic Ocean on the north Cornish coast – whatever the weather. Many spectators come to join in the festivities, supporting the adventurous (and some may say mad) participants with cheers of encouragement and warming towels to welcome them out of the water.
Hot chocolates and refreshments are supplied after the event which creates a lovely community atmosphere where swimmers and spectators come together to share Christmas wishes and photo opportunities.
If you want to take part in this year’s swim then visit the SLSC website for a registration form – or if spectating is more your style then head to the shoreline for an 11am start on Christmas morning.
Secret beaches in north Cornwall to escape the summer crowds
One of the many advantages of the rugged north-Cornish coastline is the plethora of hidden coves and secret beaches tucked away under the tall cliffs. They’re not always easy to reach, but with a little effort you really can escape the crowds.
We’re lucky to have several within easy reach of Bude…
Many will know of Crackington Haven, but it’s worth including here as it rarely gets busy. Located 10 miles to the south of Bude, this beach is best enjoyed at low tide, when there’s more space to explore.
There’s a pub and café nearby, and the surf can be good at times – so very much worth a trip.
If you keep heading south from Crackington Haven, you’ll discover The Strangles around one mile on. There is a small National Trust car park on the road side, opposite the footpath down to the beach.
It is a relatively long climb down from the car park, so be prepared. But your efforts will be rewarded, as two beaches join up at low tide, revealing a long stretch of sand.
A truly rugged but beautiful cove, just to the north of Bude.
There are plenty of rock pools, and a stretch of sand at low tide. You may also spot the wreck of the SS Belem, wrecked just off the beach in 1917.
You’ll find a small National Trust car park at the beach, with an honesty box for payment.
Just to the south of Widemouth, around four miles from Bude, is Millook Haven.
The beach is mainly made up of pebbles and shingle, so not necessarily the best spot for lying in the sun – but it’s certainly a dramatic spot for a coastal walk.
There is no lifeguard cover here, and the sea is best avoided by inexperienced swimmers or surfers. But you can guarantee there won’t be too many people around.
Tregardock is around 20 miles from Bude, but you could combine it with a trip to Port Isaac or Tintagel, both of which are close by.
It’s fairly difficult to get to – located at the end of a long path, with a bit of a climb down. But for that reason, it is never busy.
If you’re planning a trip, keep an eye on the tide times. The beach disappears at high tide, but when the sea is out you’ll find plenty of sand and rock pools.
If you enjoyed this collection of secret beaches, take a look at our collection of the best wild swimming spots in Cornwall.
Adam Gibbard, Cornwall Beach Guide, and Visit Cornwall
Wild swimming spots in Cornwall
Cornwall’s beautiful coastline and rugged countryside is right on our doorstep, and there are so many places to enjoy a swim that offer something a little different than a dip in the sea. Although the wide open ocean might seem like an obvious place to go for a swim, we’ve rounded up our top five wild swimming spots that you may not have heard about, perfect for swimming in without having to dodge any waves or surfers.
Wild swimming in Cornwall
Open from early March to late October, Jubilee Pool is a fantastic place to enjoy natural seawater in a safe, controlled environment. High walls protect visitors from any offshore winds, and the pool has a smaller bathing pool for toddlers and younger children. The pool is the UK’s largest seawater lido, and was officially reopened by Prince Charles in 2016 after having been closed for a number of years. The first stage of plans to heat a section of the pool using geothermal energy has now also begun, with mechanics drilling down and tapping into a deep geothermal well which will eventually produce bathing waters of around 35°C.
Partly man-made and partly natural, Bude Sea Pool is a brilliant wild swimming pool tucked beneath the cliff at the northern side of Summerleaze Beach, providing a safe haven for swimmers who can enjoy the benefits of wild swimming without having to worry about the dangers of the sea. Originally constructed in the 1930’s, the pool is 91 metres long and acts as a major draw for visitors to Bude, naturally refilling at high tide each day. All public funding for the pool was withdrawn in 2010, and it has since been maintained solely by the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, which rely on donations from supporters. The pool is completely free to enjoy and is used for a number of purposes, including surf life saving and swimming lessons, and it’s only 100 meters from our hotel, so remember your swimmers.
(Read our interview with a Friends of Bude Sea Pool member to find out more about the incredible efforts that go into maintaining it: http://www.thebeachatbude.co.uk/insight-bude-sea-pool/.)
As if Perranporth’s three-mile stretch of golden sand isn’t enough of an attraction, the beach also houses a natural tidal pool within Chapel Rock, a large sea stack that juts out from the cliffs at the southern end of the beach. Being quite small, the pool is naturally warmed from the sun in the summer months, and provides a brilliant area for children to learn to swim, snorkel and dive. The tide can come in quite fast at this beach, so visitors are warned to keep an eye on it.
A small village and fishing port on the north coast of Cornwall, Portreath is located between St Ives and St Agnes, and on the north side of the beach the harbour wall shelters a small tidal swimming pool that’s perfect for relaxing in whilst watching the waves roll into the bay. The pool isn’t quite big enough to swim laps in, resembling a hot tub rather than a swimming pool, but it’s a great place to relax while the children scramble over the rocks and discover the local marine life.
Although not particularly glamorous sounding, Goldiggins Quarry is a beautiful, clear spring fed quarry lake in a sheltered spot on Bodmin Moor. With flat ledges for jumping into the deeper parts of the water, the surrounding grass banks provide perfect places to enjoy a picnic or sunbathe. The wild landscape also means there are some great walking routes nearby, navigating around and across towering granite tors jutting out from the moorland. The nearest carpark is over a mile away from the quarry and there are limited local amenities, so we’d recommend taking lots of water to stay hydrated in hotter weather.
Please be responsible when taking part in wild swimming activities at attractions that are not lifeguarded and never jump into water if you’re not sure of its depth.
Bude in pictures: an interview with Cornish surf photographer Clive Symm
Clive Symm is a talented Cornish surf photographer, who also captures weddings, landscapes and portraits, 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.