The seaside town of Bude is like nowhere else. Forget cookie-cutter high streets full of the same chain stores; Bude is proud of its family-run businesses, local shops and restaurants which pride themselves in giving great service to visiting guests.

Bude has been a popular seaside destination ever since Londoners hit the town for their week's holiday each summer, arriving on the Atlantic Coast Express train direct from Waterloo. Nowadays most visitors arrive by car, enjoying the scenery along the A39 Atlantic Highway. Others arrive in town on foot along the South West Coastal Path or by bike from one of the network of traffic-free cycle trails nearby.

Things to Do in Bude

Bude's miles of golden sands are perfect for long walks or family games and are easily accessible. Playing in the sand, swimming and surfing on some of Cornwall's finest breakers are what treasured family holidays are made of. The beaches are well patrolled by lifeguards during the summer. In fact Bude was the first place in the country to offer such a service with the founding of the first Surf Lifesaving Club in 1953.

There is certainly no excuse to be bored in this lovely area. Bude has a leisure centre with a wave machine and flume, a laser dome, tennis, minigolf, trampolines and go-karting.

The Bude Canal and surrounding marshes lead up the quiet Bude valley. The canal was built to transport sand inland, returning laden with produce for export from Bude Harbour. The valley can be explored on foot, bicycle or by kayak. You can even catch a fish or two in the river, watch the sea locks in operation or catch sight of one of the resident otters. After all, this is Tarka Country!

The newly opened Bude Canal Visitor Centre offers a chance to get the most from this area, which is a nature-lover's paradise. In June the area is carpeted with tiny wild orchids in bloom – a rare sight. Patience in the bird hide will be rewarded with sightings of native birds such as wild ducks, curlews, herons, godwits and oystercatchers.

Historic Stratton

Just north of Bude is the charming small market town of Stratton. History buffs will know it well as the site of the Battle of Stamford Hill during the English Civil War. Each year there is a re-enactment of the battle which lasted for just one day on May 16, 1643. The victory gave the Royalists control of Cornwall, despite being outnumbered two to one.

Anthony Payne was the local bodyguard to Royalist leader Sir Bevil Grenville. Measuring 7 feet 4 inches in height, he lived and died in the Grenville manor house, now known as the Tree Inn in Stratton. It is said the house had to be dismantled to get his huge coffin down the stairs after his death.

Apart from its history, Stratton has several interesting pubs and churches including the 12th century Norman church of St Andrew and an old tithe barn where the villagers gave one tenth of their produce to the church.

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