Great news! Bude has been voted the 7th Best Beach Destination in the UK …

… in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Beach Destinations Awards 2012 (announced 7 March 2012).

    • Cornwall has more destinations on the list than any other county, with St Ives, Newquay and Padstow respectively named in the  fourth, sixth and tenth beach destinations.  Dorset’s Bournemouth took the top spot and was additionally the only UK beach to be included in the European list.
    • Award winners were determined based on the most highly rated beach destinations by travellers in TripAdvisor reviews. Unlike any other honours, TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world.
    • “These awards recognise the UK’s best beach destinations, according to those that really matter – travellers themselves,” commented Emma Shaw, TripAdvisor spokesperson. “The UK is home to many miles of gorgeous coastline and Cornwall’s extensive inclusion in this list proves just how much visitors love the county’s beach destinations.”
    • For the complete 2012 Travellers’ Choice Beach Destinations winners and more reviews, opinions and candid holiday photographs, go to

Northcott Mouth_7004188

Starting with the closest – Northcott Mouth, which is owned by the National Trust. To get there from Trevalgas, head for Bude and in the centre of Poughill turn right where signposted and follow the road for about a mile. The road becomes narrow in places with some passing places and you may need to be patient at peak times, particularly in the main holiday season, but it is well worth it!

At the end of the road there is a car park (NT ‘honesty box’) and then a short walk to the beach. The Rustic Tea Garden at the back of the beach operates in high season (and due to reopen Easter 2012 in a larger caravan) but otherwise there are no facilities. Lifeguards in July and August. Dogs allowed.

Northcott mouth is backed by commanding cliffs – used by the local adventure centre for abseil training. The high tide line consists of shingle, large rocks and plenty of interesting flotsam and jetsam. At low tide there is a huge area of sand beyond rocky finger-like outcrops which stretch toward the sea. Parts of the beach have a slightly extra-terrestrial look with strange rock formations, sea stacks and lots of shallow rock pools. Northcott Mouth is great for:

    • Surfers – intermediate level
    • Rock Pools – children will love exploring the depths
    • Games – at low tide
    • Walks – providing you are careful about timings (i.e. leave before low tide) you can walk from Northcott Mouth to Crooklets in Bude along the beach and back along the cliff path.


    In Bude there are two beaches. Nearer the town Centre is Summerleaze. Tons of sand in a really picturesque setting with the breakwater, canal and river on one side, an open air seawater swimming pool on the other and backed by beach huts, the greensward of the town park and sand dunes. There are some gravelly bits at the high water line but there is nearly always some sand even at very high tide.

    This is a brilliant beach for young children with lots of space to run safely, build sand castles and channel the tide. Lifeguards on duty in the summer. Toilet facilities. Dogs must be on a lead at set times. There is a huge car park (charges apply) with cafés and shops nearby. Access is level but covered in deep sand at times. The Life’s a Beach café overlooking the beach is particularly recommended. Summerleaze is great for:

    • Surfers – all abilities
    • Children – safe and lots of sand but be careful of breakers and currents when swimming in the sea
    • Swimmers – large seawater pool which is excellent for kids. Cleaned and refilled by the tides every day!
    • Beach huts – can be hired.


    Not far from the centre of Bude is Crooklets beach, backed by the cricket pitch on Summerleaze Down, with beach huts and a beach-side café.  It’s just a short stroll between Crooklets and Summerleaze beaches. A good quantity of sand is exposed at low tide but it is limited otherwise and quite gravelly at the high tide line. Crooklets has a sandy strip which is on each side of a small stream and the whole beach is bounded by rocky outcrops. The rocks provide a good area for exploring the sea life in pools.

    There is a large car park (charges apply), a café, shops and surf centre at
    Crooklets, toilet facilities and shower. Access is level and easy. Lifeguards on
    duty in the summer. No dogs are allowed on Crooklets from Easter to October.
    This beach is great for:

    • Surfers – all abilities – the nearby surf school is based here and kit can be hired
    • Children – less sand than Summerleaze but good rock pools
    • Beach huts – can be hired.


    Travelling north: from Trevalgas turn right at the cross roads at the top of Stone Hill you will find Sandymouth about 3.5 miles away. This is another beach under the control of the National Trust. Following the lane signposted off the road shortly after Stibb you will come to a car park which has charges during high season (free for NT members). There is also a shop and café which is also seasonal.

    From the car park there is a fairly rough and steep path down to the beach. The bit from the path to the sea is made up of large rocks which are difficult for all but the reasonably agile to negotiate and this beach is therefore not recommended for anyone infirm or unsteady on their feet.  At low tide there are some stretches of low sharp rocks leading to a wide expanse of sand. The beach is backed by a high cliff. Sandymouth is rarely overcrowded – it is a “get away from it all” beach with few facilities but a sense of wildness. It is particularly good for:

    • Surfers – experienced only
    • Children – best at low tide when the sand is exposed and there is plenty of room for games.


    About a mile or so further on from Sandymouth you will find Duckpool. This is a tiny bay which is at the end of a pretty wooded valley. Like Sandymouth there is a large expanse of sand at low tide but only rocks are visible approaching high tide. Car parking is limited and there are no facilities or lifeguards. Not recommended for swimming. Dogs allowed. Duckpool is good for:

    • Surfers – experienced only
    • Children – but at low tide only and be careful – the tide comes in quickly
    • Walkers – but caution here too as you need to be sure of your timing so you can get back if you walk round the headland.


    The last of the six local beaches is one of the most popular (some would say famous) and is to be found about three miles south of Bude town centre. Widemouth (pronounced “widmth”) Bay is in two parts – the part furthest from Bude is known as Black Rock beach and is better suited for swimming – the rest is ideal for surfing.

    Approaching Widemouth from Bude you come over the top of the hill to see this long wide open beach on a part of the coast where it is more usual to see little rocky coves and tiny shingly beaches. No cliffs here – behind the beach are a variety of shops, cafes, pubs, B&Bs etc but not so many that they feel intrusive or out of place. Each part of the beach has car parking (charges apply) and toilet facilities. Lifeguards in the summer. Dogs are allowed on the Black Rock part of the beach.

    Access to the beach is via steps and can be tricky for the infirm or disabled. The beach itself is a huge area of nice firm sand which is great for beach games but it is the long relatively rock free bit of sea which makes this beach so popular with surfers, kayakers, kite-surfers  and others. When the “surfs up” you’ll find the surf addicts here with their boards in their vans or on the roofs of their cars. It’s not Waikiki but it still manages to
    generate a certain surfer’s world atmosphere – so if it’s your thing you will feel
    right at home. Widemouth is great for:

    • Surfers – all grades – especially good for beginners – kit  hire available
    • Children – safe swimming at the western end (Black Rock) – lots of sand
    • Beach Games – a perfect surface for your favourite sports
    • Rock Pools at the western end.

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There are many more fine beaches not far away – Millook is another couple of miles south of Widemouth and although mainly pebbles is great for observing wildlife both on the cliffs and out at sea. (Note: very limited parking).

Crackington Haven is eleven miles south and is a small cove consisting mainly of sand and shingle. Here you will find a car park (charges apply), a pub, café and shop. If you want complete isolation and you’re very fit try Strangles beach a mile further on – it’s a steep rough track to get there and a long (up to an hour) hard slog back again (you have been warned) – bring food and water. The beach, which is mainly sand and shingle, along with the surrounding countryside is quite beautiful and makes all the effort worthwhile.

This bit of Cornwall has so much to offer you may not feel the need to venture any further afield.