Cold water swimming

I’ve seen a lot lately about the benefits of wild swimming or cold water swimming outside all year round. “Cold water therapy”, including year-round sea swimming, recently featured in the BBC’s “Easy Ways to Live Well”, with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall taking a dip in the sea. Apparently there are benefits for physical and mental health, particularly dealing with stress.

Here in Cornwall there are people who swim in the sea all year. Even on the coldest day, if I walk on the beach I will usually see surfers, paddle boarders or kayakers in the water. A friend has recently started a weekly dip in the sea with the Bluetits Chill Swimmers group, just down the coast in Newquay.

Bude has its own beautiful Sea Pool on Summerleaze beach where you can try cold water swimming even if the sea is rough. You often see groups of swimmers there all year round. Some wear wetsuits, others just a swimming costume. I love the sea pool and in winter on a calm day it looks very inviting. I haven’t braved it yet though between September and March – maybe this will be the year!

Jumping into the sea pool in Bude
Bude’s Sea Pool
Bude's sea pool on a sunny January day
Bude Sea Pool in the January sunshine
Swimmers in Bude Sea Pool in January 2020
Locals swim in Bude Sea Pool all year round – this was January 2020.

Bude also has an annual Christmas Day swim from Crooklets Beach when lots of people run into the sea – and usually straight out again, screaming. This must be a good way of working up an appetite for that Christmas dinner.

Bude’s Sea Pool is just 10 minutes away from our cottages. Even better, you can always warm up in the hot tub afterwards. Or perhaps curl up in front of a wood burner with a hot chocolate to recover.

Spring is on the way!

We are past the end of January now and Spring is on the way after a very wet and windy winter. The spring flowers and blossom are starting to appear.

Snowdrops, some of the first spring flowers
Snowdrops in the garden
Early blossom on the tree in our entrance
We have had daffodils since 10 January this year and the blossom on the tree at the entrace was in bud before the end of the month too. 

Sunsets and sunrises

January highlights included some spectacular sunrises and we went to Widemouth Bay a few times to watch the sun setting over the Atlantic. Widemouth is just 10 minutes away in the car and the sunsets are spectacular. This is the only positive about shorter days!

Amazing colours in the sky at sunrise
The beautiful colours of a January sunrise
The sun setting over the Atlantic at Widemouth Bay
A January sunset at Widemouth Bay.
Sunset at Widemouth Bay
Widemouth Bay at sunset

The Eden Project

We fitted in a visit to the Eden Project too. We like to go in the winter while the ice rink is open, usually from October to February when it’s not too busy. The ice rink is great fun and afterwards you can warm up exploring the rainforest and the rope bridges in the tropical biome. The tropical flowers were beautiful this year and we saw pineapples and bananas growing. We also enjoyed a visit to the Mediterranean Biome, where we saw citrus trees. A real contrast to the bare branches and Spring flowers outside.

This year we took three teens and an 8 year old and we all enjoyed the afternoon. It is about an hour’s drive from our cottages. We always enjoy ourselves at the Eden Project – well worth a visit. It is not a cheap day out, but tickets are valid for 12 months (if you buy them as a donation) so you can always visit again if you are coming back to Cornwall. Buy online in advance for a cheaper rate. You can take a picnic which you can eat inside or outside, or you can buy food there, ranging from pasties and sandwiches to a full meal. Dogs are welcome, but not in the biomes.

Ice skating at the Eden Project's ice rink
The ice rink at the Eden Project – usually open October to February each year.
A tree orchid in the tropical biome at the Eden Project
An orchid in the tropical biome at the Eden Project
A beautiful pink Torch Ginger flower in the tropical biome at the Eden Project
A Torch Ginger flower in the tropical biome at the Eden Project. The torch ginger plant grows in southeast Asia.
A pineapple growing in the tropical biome at the Eden Project
A pineapple growing in the tropical biome

We have availability for short breaks and longer stays in our cottages until the beginning of April. We open our outdoor pool for the school Easter holidays on 3 April and we have some cottages available if you would like to get away then for a break with friends or family. Check availability here or drop us an email at enquiries@hiltonfarmholidays.co.uk for more information.

Swimming pool…

It’s that time of year, now that Christmas is over, when we start to think optimistically about warmer weather and opening our outdoor swimming pool ready for the summer season.

Our heated outdoor pool and hot tub.
Pool and hot tub

We open our heated outdoor swimming pool for the start of the main school Easter holidays each year, until the end of September. In 2020 our pool will be open from 3 April until 30 September. Fingers crossed for some warm, sunny weather. The hot tub is open all year round.

Bookings for Easter and the summer are going quickly. Please take a look at live availability here, or email us enquiries@hiltonfarmholidays.co.uk. We are 10 minutes from Bude and the beautiful North Cornwall coast. There are lots of beaches to explore, from secluded sandy coves to family-friendly Summerleaze in Bude with the Bude Sea Pool. The local beaches at Widemouth Bay and in Bude are popular with surfers. You can book lessons and hire boards and wetsuits locally.

We are in a rural location on the edge of a village, but just a short drive from the A39, so a great base for exploring the North Cornwall and North Devon coast. Padstow, Clovelly, Port Isaac and Polzeath are all within 30 minutes to an hour away. Further afield, the Eden Project is about an hour’s drive and the Lost Gardens of Heligan slightly further.

Christmas in Cornwall

It was 1 December yesterday so to get into the Christmas spirit, we visited Cotehele, a National Trust house and estate near Saltash. Cotehele is worth a visit at any time of year. The house closes for the winter but the grounds are great for a walk. You can take your dog with you in most of the estate (not the formal gardens or the house).  The Cotehele Christmas garland is on display now until 5 January (except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day). The garland is made of thousands of flowers which are grown and then dried on the estate every year.

The floral Christmas garland at Cotehele house
The Christmas garland at Cotehele
The floral Christmas garland at Cotehele
The garland is 60 foot long.
Floral decorations at Cotehele house
Different colours have been used around doors.

We also enjoyed a walk down to the Quay with our dog, and then we had a wander around the formal gardens. Even in December the gardens are well worth a visit.

Autumnal trees at Cotehele
The grounds at Cotehele house
Cotehele's gardens
The formal gardens at Cotehele
Toby the dog enjoying his walk
Dogs are welcome on most of the estate, but not in the formal gardens or the house.

Cotehele is about an hour’s drive from our holiday cottages near Bude. We are fully booked for New Year 2019/20 but we do have some availability for Christmas in our smaller cottages. We are now taking bookings for 2020!

There are lots of things to do at this time of year. We love ice skating at the Eden Project, then warming up in the tropical biome. We enjoy walking on the beaches at this time of year – no mud and lots of space! If the weather is rubbish why not warm up in our hot tub, or curl up by a wood burner (Manor, Parsons and the Farmhouse) with a book.

Summer holidays in Bude

Well, the summer holidays in Bude 2019 are almost over and the children will soon be back at school. For those who are lucky enough not to be restricted to the school holidays, September is a good month to visit Cornwall. The beaches – and those narrow country lanes – will be quieter. Hopefully we will still get some sunshine and good weather. For September offers please take a look at our late availability page.

We are now taking bookings for Summer 2020. Our cottages are just 10 minutes from Bude and a choice of beaches. We have a heated outdoor pool (Easter holidays-end September) and hot tub on site, as well as a children’s play area and games room. For those wanting a bit more luxury, Parsons cottage (sleeps 7) now has a private hot tub in the garden.

Our heated outdoor pool is open Easter-September. Our hot tub is open all year.
Pool and hot tub

Bude

Bude is a small seaside town on the North Cornish coast, a great spot for a holiday. It is relatively quiet and unspoilt. Even in July and August you can get away from the crowds and find a quiet beach. We are in a peaceful rural location on the edge of a village, but we are just a short drive from Bude and the coast. Access to the A39 is easy so this a good base for exploring North Devon as well as North Cornwall.

Families with small children will enjoy the sandy beaches. There are plenty of rock pools to explore and safe paddling in the sea pool. Bude also has a big indoor pool. There is also a soft play centre with bowling in case the weather is not so good.

If you enjoy watersports there is a lot of choice within the area. Kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding are available on the canal, the sea pool and nearby Tamar Lakes as well as the sea. There are some good spots for surfing and body boarding along the coast, with Widemouth Bay just a few minutes away.

Local beaches: Crackington Haven

About 20 minutes down the coast is another of our favourite local beaches: Crackington Haven. Crackington Haven is a beautiful cove with some spectacular scenery around it. Walk along the coastal path in either direction to take in the views. Beware the hills though – they are vicious! You can walk to Cam Beak, the point at the south of the cove, a longer walk with lots of steep climbs and drops. The climb to the north of the beach is also steep but easier and you can stop at a bench to take in the view.

The beach itself has stones at the top, with sand revealed further down as the tide goes out. It is great for a swim if it is calm, or body boarding, but be careful with the rocks towards the top of the beach. The beach is also popular with surfers and kayakers and you will see stand up paddle boarding too. There is lifeguard cover in the summer. No dogs are allowed from Easter till the end of September.

Crackington Haven is popular with children; the sandy beach and the rock pools are great for playing. There are also some tennis courts in a great spot, overlooking the sea. Find the Crackington Haven tennis club on facebook for more details.

There is a pub in a great spot, the Coombe Barton Inn and two cafes, including one of our favourites, the Cabin. The Cabin does evening BBQs in the summer and sells good sandwiches, cakes and ice cream, as does the cafe on the other side of the car park, the Haven. There is a small car park by the beach and another one as you are coming into Crackington Haven down the road from Wainhouse Corner.

Crackington Haven, one of the beautiful local beaches.
Crackington Haven, one of our favourite local beaches

Take a look in our blog posts under local area for information on other local beaches.

Where to eat in Bude 2019

Bude’s restaurants and cafes are always changing so here are some suggestions of places to eat in Bude and nearby in 2019. Please book in advance, especially in the school holidays.

Cream teas…

Places to eat in Marhamchurch

Regular visitors will know the village pub in Marhamchurch, the Bullers Arms. This is about a 10 minute walk but there aren’t any street lights, so please remember a torch if you are planning a walk back along the lane. Find the pub on Facebook or call 01288 361277. The pub serves food but please check before planning to eat there as kitchen opening hours vary. If you would like a coffee or snack, the new village shop next to the village hall sells good coffee, tea, soft drinks, snacks and hot pasties.

Just outside the village by the canal the Weir is a modern child-friendly cafe and bistro, open daily 9am-4.30, with a children’s play area. The Weir also opens in early evenings Thursday-Sunday for a BBQ menu. You can walk over the fields to Widemouth Bay from here, or into Bude along the canal.

Restaurants in Bude

Life’s a Beach is a long-established restaurant overlooking Summerleaze beach. The owners have refurbished it over the winter. Fortunately some of our old favourites are still on the menu, although it no longer has a separate restaurant menu in the evenings. Open for breakfast until 8pm or 9pm (varies daily). New bar open till 9pm daily. Good range of food and the fish, burgers, curries, salads are recommended. Children’s menu. Take-aways available to eat on the beach.

The Beach Hotel is boutique hotel overlooking Summerleaze beach with a cocktail bar and more upmarket restaurant. Good food, portions not huge. Fixed price lunch menu. Open for lunch and in the evenings every day. Cocktail bar with a good choice of drinks open daily until 11pm.

Sazerac cocktail bar and restaurant in the Atlantic Hotel, overlooking Summerleaze beach. Relaxed bar food menu at lunchtime, restuarant menu in the evenings. Open Tuesday-Saturday.

Temple is a small, innovative cafe and restaurant open for brunch and lunch every day except Monday and evenings Thursday-Saturday. Locally-sourced interesting food, beautifully presented. Good coffee too. Located on Granville Terrace at the bottom of town, along from the TSB.

The Deck is another relaxed restaurant on Summerleaze Crescent, in the Edgcumbe Hotel. Skewers, burgers, ribs, steak, fish. Children’s menu.

La Bocca is a small traditional Italian pizzeria in Bude. They will also do take away and deliver to Hilton Farm Holidays. Owned by the family that run the modern Italian style restaurant at Elements at Widemouth Bay.

Cafes in Bude

There are plenty of cafes in Bude if you are looking for somewhere to get a coffee, a light lunch or maybe a cream tea.

Try Cafe Bellini’s in the town centre for delicious sandwiches and ice cream. Find Cafe Bellini’s on Facebook. A good deli as well with a selection of local products.

The Barge is a cafe on a boat moored along the canal where you can get lunches, good coffee and cake.

We also like Get your Veg On which is a popular vegetarian cafe operating out of a caravan by the Tourist Information Centre. Recommended as one of the best vegan restaurants in a Guardian survey in 2018. Find them on Facebook as opening hours can be affected by the weather and they sometimes cater at local events instead. There are tables next to the canal where you can sit. Really good vegetarian and vegan wraps, toasties, nachos and other food freshly made with local ingredients.

Northcott Mouth

If you are heading for Northcott Mouth beach or enjoying a walk across the downs from Bude towards Northcott stop off for a cream tea at Margaret’s Rustic Tea Garden, just inland from the beach. You will spot the tea pot sign as you walk down the coastal path. The cream teas are highly recommended but Margaret also serves hot pasties and freshly made sandwiches. Find the Rustic Tea Garden on facebook or Trip Advisor. Open Easter-September-ish.

Widemouth Bay

If you have been to Widemouth Bay and feel like getting breakfast, lunch or coffee and cake afterwards we recommend the cafe and shop at Cornish Coasts campsite on the A39. Opening hours vary. If you would like an ice cream at Widemouth in the summer the ice creams at the Beach House hotel snack bar on the beach are the best, and the queue is usually shorter. Head north away from the car park. The cafe in the Widemouth car park is open all year round.

Bude’s beaches: Summerleaze beach

We are spoilt for choice with beaches around Bude. There are plenty of beaches within a short drive. This is the first of a few posts with tips on Bude’s beaches to help our guests choose which ones to visit. First up, Summerleaze Beach in Bude town.

Summerleaze is one of our favourites all year round. It is a big sandy beach, great for kids and surfers. It is dog -friendly all year round (although dogs must be on a lead in the summer, check the notices for details). Summerleaze is good for sandcastles, maybe not so good for rockpooling as nearby Crooklets. If you walk along towards Crooklets at low tide, you will come to a rocky section which is good for exploring.

Summerleaze Beach in summer

The beautiful Bude Sea Pool at Summerleaze Beach.

Summerleaze is home to the Bude Sea Pool, great for serious swimmers and children who want a safer swim than the sea.

Facilities on Summerleaze beach

Summerleaze has better facilities than some of the more remote beaches. There is a big car park and toilets and showers by the RNLI station. It is a short walk to the beach so access for pushchairs is possible. Beach wheelchairs are available to hire from the Beach Office in the summer (call
01288 352226). There are toilets and showers by the RNLI station. Life’s a Beach (up the steps) sells food to take away or eat in and ice creams. Lifeguard cover for the beach and sea pool is provided by the RNLI over the Easter holidays and May-September. Check the board at the entrance to the beach for lifeguard cover hours and any warnings.

Summerleaze is popular with surfers and body boarders and a few surf schools operate from the car park.

Summerleaze beach landmarks

As well as the Sea Pool there are a few landmarks to look out for. You will see Barrel Rock at the end of the Breakwater just over river from Summerleaze. Barrel Rock has become a Bude landmark. Named after the beacon at the end of the rock, there is also a micropub called the Barrel on Lansdown Road (check the website as opening hours are limited).

Barrel rock in stormy seas.

Summerleaze has a half tide cross – when the sea reaches the cross bar the tide is half way.

The half way cross on Summerleaze Beach.

Just next to the beach you will see the end of the Bude canal and the sea lock, one of only two working sea locks in Britain. You can cross over the lock to pick up the path along to the Breakwater. The canal itself was originally built to take sand inland. You can walk along the canal back to Marhamchurch. See our blog entry for details on the walk (scroll down to Bude Canal Walk.

Bude canal from the sea lock.

What you might not like about Summerleaze

If you are looking for a quieter beach, Summerleaze is popular with families so it does get very busy in high season. There may well be queues for the car park in school holidays. Summerleaze is dog-friendly so if you would prefer a beach with no dogs, try Crooklets, just along the bay.

Beautiful Bude

Now that we are quieter over the winter months I am making the most of my dog walks around beautiful Bude, especially when it is not raining! We are very lucky to live here, in such a lovely part of the country.  We often head for the beach which is glorious on a clear, sunny day at this time of year. There are still a few hardy surfers in the water on a good day and keen swimmers in Bude’s Sea Pool. 

One of Bude’s landmarks, Barrel Rock, at the end of the breakwater.

The waterfalls at Sandymouth beach are always worth a visit, especially after a rainy spell.

 

I’ve also been trying to find some good spots to take in Autumn colours this year – too often the leaves get blown off the trees in a gale. The new footpath/Segway route/cycle path between Whalesborough, just down through the village, and Widemouth is a great place for a walk, as is the Bude canal tow path.

Bude canal – walk into Bude along the canal. Use the car park at Helebridge for a shorter walk.

Bude canal – walk into Bude along the canal. Use the car park at Helebridge for a shorter walk.

 

Rustling through the Autumn leaves on the footpath between Whalesborough and Widemouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn colours on the footpath near Widemouth.

The sunsets at this time of year are also spectacular. A guest recently took a photo of the sunset reflected in the pond in our field (open to guests when the cows aren’t around).

A November sunset reflected in the pond.

Autumn breaks in Bude

Autumn breaks in Bude

It’s hard to believe it’s the last week of the school holidays and I’m thinking about Autumn. We had such a lovely warm spell in July and August; some beautiful sunny days on the beach. Today it’s raining and windy, a reminder of the other kind of Cornish weather! However, our guests are enjoying our pool which is open until the end of September. The water is always warm.

Living here has definitely made me more aware of the seasons and now the nights have started to draw in I am missing warm(ish) summer evenings. Autumn around Bude can be lovely though so I am reminding myself of some of the good things!

  • Walks on beaches and the coastal path.  If you are lucky enough to be able to visit Cornwall outside the school holidays you’ll find empty beaches. Walk from Bude to Sandymouth at low tide and find the remains of a shipwreck just north of Northcott Mouth.

Pieces of the wreck of the SS Belem which ran aground in 2018

On a sunny day take in the views from the coastal path. One of my favourite stretches is the section between Northcott Mouth and Bude, which has some amazing views over the beach, but is not too hilly!

View over Strangles beach

 

  •  Sunsets. We get some beautiful sunsets over the coast all year round, but in the Autumn and Winter they are really stunning.

    A sunset at Widemouth.

  • Blackberries are everywhere at the moment, a bit earlier than usual, but I think they’ll be around for a few weeks. I’m looking forward to crumble, or maybe cakes with some of our eggs.

    Blackberries and eggs from our hens.

  • The Budelicious food festival. This is a new event on 22nd and 23rd September, based around the Falcon Hotel in Bude. It includes demonstrations and an Artisan Producer’s Hall, where you can buy some great local produce. There will be a Foodie Fortnight from 15th-29th September, with lots of Bude’s great cafes and restaurants taking part.
  • Finally, sometimes it’s nice to chill with a book, maybe curled up by a woodburner. Three of our larger cottages have woodburners. Or perhaps take a dip in our hot tub, which is open all year.