Bude canal walk is one of our favourites. Follow the tow path along the canal into Bude. There is usually lots to see along the canal; birds, butterflies, dragonflies, flowers, lambs in the spring, water voles. The tow path comes out by the Tourist Information office. You can cross the road to the Wharf and walk along to the Breakwater and Summerleaze beach. Bikes are not allowed on the tow path. If you want to cycle, there is a cycle path which runs near the canal for much of the route.
The walk takes about an hour from Hilton, a bit longer if you have small children. The tow path is a good walk if you have a child in a pushchair. It is downhill to the canal and then a flat walk along the tow path. The path down to the canal is bumpy and quite steep. To avoid the hill on the way back you can park at the bottom of the village in the canal car park. To get to the canal car park drive into the village, turn right at the pub and head down the hill past the church and the school to Helebridge. Just before the junction with the A39 opposite the Weir, there is a turning on your right. There is a small car park on the right hand side just before the bridge. If you are walking from Hilton follow the instructions below.
Walking from Hilton
From Hilton take a left out of our gate and the first left at the top of the hill along Hilton Road. Follow this into the village. Take a left at the end of Hilton Road. You will see the pub opposite the T junction. Turn right and head for the church.
Walk past the church on your left and the school on your right. Continue past the first house after the school. You then come to a track on your right (signposted Public Way).
Take this path down to the canal. It is quite steep. At the end of the track you see some houses. Follow the path on the left hand side just past the SW Water station. There is a sign on the fence “Canal Walk”.
Walk along the canal to the end of the path. The car park is on the other side of the canal. Cross the road and follow the path under the A39. This brings you out by to the Weir cafe and bistro. The Weir is a good place for a coffee or meal with children. There is a play area and lake. Bude Segway tours leave from here. For the Weir turn left. For Bude turn right along the tow path. Follow the tow path.
Bude canal was completed in 1825, with a total length of 57km/36 miles. The lowest section of the Canal, between Bude and Helebridge, was built to be operable by barges. The rest of the canal was operated by small “tub boats”. The canal was used to transport sand inland. You can find out more about the history of the canal on the Bude Canal Trust site or from the Bude Canal and Harbour Society. Just next to the car park in Helebridge is the Barge Workshop (owned by Bude Stratton Town Council, open Sunday afternoons late July-September only). Here you can see an example of a Bude Canal tub boat. These had wheels to get up the hills or “inclined planes”. There is a board along the Helebridge section of the canal walk which explains how the system worked.
Keep going along the tow path until you come to Rodd’s Bridge, a green painted bridge next to Rodd’s Farm. Cross the bridge and go through the gate onto the tow path on the other side of the canal. There are usually plenty of water birds to see along this stretch; herons, ducks, geese and swans.
If you don’t want to walk all the way into Bude, you can loop back to the village here along the cycle path.
The tow path comes to an end by the Tourist Information Office. At the end of the tow path you can cross the road over to the Wharf and walk along to the sea lock at the end of the canal or down onto Summerleaze beach. You can also explore the Breakwater if the tide is out.
Where to eat by the canal
There are plenty of places to eat along the canal in Bude. If you like vegetarian food there is a caravan in the Tourist Information car park in the spring and summer Get Your Veg On. This sells delicious vegetarian salads, toasties and wraps. Over along the Wharf you can try the Barge, a tea room in a Barge, open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. The Barge is moored at the end of the canal by the sea lock in the summer and down on the main Wharf in the winter. On the Wharf itself try the Olive Tree or the Lock Gates Tea Room.