134 Crackington Haven to Bude

It is November and I am back at Crackington Haven. It’s still windy but not as windy as the last time I was here. Today the beach is deserted. Across the water I can see the humpy finger of Cambeak and the mound where I once sat to eat a bar of chocolate.

Crackington Haven to Cambeak, Ruth's coastal walk in Cornwall

I am nervous about walking today. It will be dark by five pm. I only have six hours of daylight and over 10 miles to cover. And I know there will be many steep climbs.

Sure enough, after a climb up the headland of Pencannow Point, and within a few minutes of setting off, I see the path drops down into a deep valley. The cleft is in shadow and I am unable to take any decent photographs, but I do manage a snap of the waterfall at the base of the valley. This is Aller Shoot.

waterfall Aller Shoot, Ruth walking the coast of North Cornwall

On the way down, white droplets, like large snowflakes, come floating up from the sea and flow across the path. The grass is speckled with them. At first I wonder if it’s some sort of flower blossom but, when I get up close, I see the white clumps are collections of froth.

Little Barton and Great Barton Strand, Ruth's coast walking Crackington HavenIt must be sea foam. I have never experienced anything like this before, and all the way down and up again the bubbles continue to rise from the sea, like an upside-down snowstorm.

(If you blow up the photo on the left you can see the white specks of foam against the darker rocks.)

I climb up the other side of the Aller Shoot valley and look back.

One of the joys of walking is checking the map and reeling off the names of rocks and bays in my head. Below me is Orchard Strand, Little Barton and Great Barton Strand, Pencannow Point and I can still see good old Cambeak – my constant waymark since I set off from Tintagel.

I feel a pang of loss at the thought I will soon be leaving Cambeak behind. Silly, I know! But I walk alone and I guess these headlands become my surrogate companions.

 ledge from Castle Point, Ruth near Crackington Haven, South West Coast PathThe path sets off along the edge of a ridge of land. To my left is the sea, to my right is a drop down gorse covered scrubland to fields below. The morning clouds are clearing and the sun is shining in my eyes. When I reach the end of the ridge, I turn around to take a photo of this lovely path.

Apparently gorse bushes flower throughout the winter, but at this time of year the scent is subdued and I only get a faint whiff of coconut and honey.

I have a brief period of easy walking along the top of gently sloping cliffs, through fields, in an area called Lower Tresmorn.

path plunges over cliffs, Ruth on the SWCPThen the path plunges down into another cove and, at one point, seems to lead straight off the edge of a cliff. Is this the right way? Yes, there is the friendly acorn sign of the South West Coast Path, set right alongside a warning triangle showing a person plunging to their death.

Onward. There are many ups and downs along this section of the South West Coast Path, but perhaps the most dramatic is the steeply sloped Scrade Valley.

Scrade Valley Waterfall, Ruth walking the South West Coast Path in CornwallRight at the bottom is a waterfall and a collection of fishing equipment on the stony beach. The path descends nearly all the way down to sea level, and straight back up the other side.

[Later, on the official South West Coast Path web site, I learn this is one of the deepest and steepest valleys of the Cornish path. Luckily, I am blissfully unaware of this fact. And lucky too that I come across this climb while still feeling full of energy and in the early part of my walk.]

Dizzard Point, Ruth Livingstone I am on Dizzard Point. National Trust land, again. It is much flatter up here and I make good progress.

Minehead 132 miles, Ruth on the SWCP, CornwallBack on the top of the cliff and I come across this bench. The marker on the side reads:


Only 132 miles of the South West Coast Path left to do? I must have already covered nearly 500 miles, then. But I don’t want this stretch of coast to end. It’s been wonderful.

Now I can look ahead and see the sands of Widemouth Bay. Bude is just beyond. It looks tantalizingly near, but I still have a long way to go.

Widemouth Sand, Ruth walking the coast, Cornwall

It is 12:30pm and I have been walking for two hours. Four good hours of daylight left.

And here is another bench. This one is particularly beautiful, made from 2 large pieces of slate with an elegant script and a memorial to Mervyn  Northcott, a local farmer.

Slate bench to Mervyn Northcott, SWCP, Dizzard, Cornwall

The path continues, dipping up and down.

down through woods, SWCP, Ruth LivingstoneI walk down into a wooded valley. It makes a change from the open slopes above, but I am confused because there is no wood shown on my map. I cross over the stream at the bottom

Back on top of the cliffs and I make good progress along flattish land and open fields. I have not come across a village since I left Crackington Haven, but the sands of Widemouth Bay are growing nearer and this is where I am going to stop for lunch. And I can see the town of Bude behind.

I know Bude has a bay and a beach, but I can’t make out where. It must be hidden between some of the headlands.

looking down on Widemouth Sands, Bude, SWCP, Ruth's coast walk

I am approaching Millook. My B&B landlady told me to watch out for the amazing rock formations in the cliffs here. But first I have to join a road that winds down and takes me into the little hamlet.

Millook, Ruth on the coastal path to BudeI see the cliffs my landlady has warned me about. They are beautiful and glowing in the afternoon sunshine. But already I am anticipating a steep climb up the other side.

 folded cliffs at Millook, Ruth walking in Cornwall, SWCPAnd, when I look closely, I can see the rock formations. They are amazing. Stripes of concertinaed rock make dramatic zig-zag chevrons in the side of the cliff.

[Later I learn this type of rock is called killas and is a feature of the north Cornwall coast.]

The climb up the  other side is just as tough as I anticipated, but is the last serious climb before I get to Bude. The rest of the walk is straightforward, but slightly spoiled by inland diversions at Wanson Mouth to avoid private property.

Further along and the path descends and flattens out at Widemouth Sands.

Widemouth Bay, Ruth's coast walk along the SWCP, Cornwall

I walk along the beach, enjoying the first decent sands since I left Trebarwith Strand. Interesting rock formations stretch across the beach and form cliffs with dramatic, vertical folds.

 folded killa cliffs, Ruth's coastal walk, near Bude

It is 3:00pm when I get to the end of Widemouth Bay. Here I meet the first people I’ve come across on the entire walk today. The car park is nearly completely submerged in sand. I wonder if they clear it out with bulldozers in the summer.

hubby at lunch, Ruth LivingstoneThe first pub I come to looks terrible. But luckily I see a nicer looking one a short way up the road, The Bay View Inn.

And here I find a strange man in a very bright yellow jacket, trying to hide his bike behind some bushes. My hubby. We eat inside and enjoy the views across the bay.

But, when we come out, I am faced with one of the penalties of a leisurely late lunch. It is 4:15 and the sun is low in the sky. Dark clouds have appeared. The view is lovely but the light is fading.

 sun setting over Widemouth Sand, Cornwall, Ruth's coast walk

I decide not to continue into Bude. It is only three miles further along, but I am tired and it will be dark in a hour’s time. So my husband arranges to pick me up at Upton, a mile and half away.

looking up the coast, past Bude, Ruth's coast walkI get to Upton easily and sit on a bench, waiting for my hubby to arrive with the car.

Anticipating tomorrow’s walk, I look along the coast. Bude is still invisible, but there is a radar station on the cliffs beyond. My current map only extends to a mile or so the other side of Bude, and so I can’t put a name to the distant headlands, nor the island that is visible out to sea.

Later, I find out the island is Lundy Island and the most distant headland is probably Hartland Point, more than 15 miles from here as the crow flies and considerably further by foot, as I will find out over the next few days.

In the sea below me there is a lone surfer. I sit and watch the sun set.

Sunset over Tintagel, Ruth on her coastal walk, Cornwall

It is the perfect end to a wonderful day of walking.

Miles walked = 8.5 miles
Total distance travelled = 1,318.5 miles
Vertical distance today = 2,600 feet


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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15 Responses to 134 Crackington Haven to Bude

  1. mandalalinda says:

    I just recently found your blog when I was looking into walks around Dawlish Warren. I had a family holiday there when I was about 10 and haven’t been back since. Down in Exeter mid April and planning to walk that way. Your photos and landscape descriptions inspire me for a surprising journey! Thank you, Ruth.

    • Hi and welcome! The walk from Dawlish Warren to Dawlish is a lovely stroll along the shore, but I am not sure what state the path is in after the winter storms. Anyway. I am sure you will find some lovely walks in the area. Best wishes, Ruth

  2. mariekeates says:

    Lovely sky shots at the end Ruth. I love those signs too. A while ago in the New Forest near Lyndhurst they put up posts and signs beside the path on White Moor. They warned of unexploded WWII bombs on the moor beside the path and a ‘danger of death.’ Very comforting! As there were ponies wandering about the other side of the posts I wondered if there would be exploding ponies.

  3. Rita Bower says:

    Hi Ruth
    I walked the South Coast last year, as a ‘starter’ for walking around Britain – just to check out whether I really did want to ‘live’ the dream I’d had for years. I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to walk some more. Unfortunately, this year, ‘real life’ gets in the way and my walking will be very limited. So I’m reading your Blog with great interest & some degree of yearning to get back to the coastal path. I smile at the various similarities on your walk & mine, from fear of cows, to thirst & hunger en route & trying to contact a husband with no mobile ‘phone signal! I wish you lots of luck with the rest of your walking. I’m not sure how much of the SW coastal path you have left to walk, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. My walk will follow rather a random route, (that’s another story!), so next year I’m hoping to walk from Lands End to Minehead. This year, maybe North Somerset and possibly Northumberland. My blog, (very unorganised compared to yours!) is http://www.nevertoolateforadventures.blogspot.co.uk
    Enjoy your walking & maybe we’ll meet en-route some time!
    Best wishes

    • Hi Rita and how lovely to meet another woman coastal walker! Hope you manage to resume your walking soon and maybe we will meet up en-route. I have actually reached Westward Ho! and should be in Minehead by the end of April. Now I’m off to look at your blog…. Best wishes.

  4. What a wonderful journey. Felt as though I were walking along beside you! Such beauty!

  5. Andrew and Lynda Goodall says:

    Hi Ruth
    You are catching us up, slowly. My wife and I finished the path last October in Minehead. We are back down after Easter, starting at Burnham on Sea. Hope to get to Wales on the next stretch.

  6. Wingclipped says:

    Your husband’s amazing! Would he like to pick us up at the end of our walks by any chance? We got stuck in the Southampton traffic last weekend trying to get back to our car we had left at the start of the walk. We ended up spending a total of 6 hours in the car in order to complete a 5 hour walk. Ouch!

    • That’s a problem as you get further away from home. Takes us over 6 hours to get down to Cornwall, on a good day, so I had to turn my walking trips into long weekends.
      Had a word with hubby and he is happy to chauffeur you, but you may not be able to afford his rates! 😀

  7. Joni Farrington says:

    Hello Ruth,
    I just want to tell you how happy and grateful I am to have discovered your blog.
    Now aged 70, I finally have the time to walk the Cornish Coastal Path, Bude to Plymouth.
    I have begun, in the opposite direction to you, with Bude to Crackington Haven. All went well until, beginning to tire and nearing the end of my 10 mile journey, I reached Scrade Valley. Like you I was blissfully unaware that this is one of the steepest and deepest of the Cornish path. (I was also unaware that 23 people have died on the path in the past year!). Trying to scramble up the sheer drop, I realised it was folly and slithered back down to the bottom to trek inland to a better alternative. Had I not done so, I think I could well have been the little figure falling to their death on your warning sign. Unfortunately there is no such warning coming in the opposite direction. Those last 2 miles took me 3 hours and left me exhausted and questioning the wisdom of the walk at my age. However, now armed with your blog, I know exactly what to expect and what precautions, alternatives, to take. Thank you so much. Joni.

    • Hi Joni, and how wonderful to hear you are setting off on your own coastal adventure. Yes, this is a difficult stretch of coast and one I remember well. You were sensible to find an easier way round – there is no point risking life and limb! Did I read that figure right – 23 lives lost this year?!!! Crikey.
      Hope you don’t give up on the path. This is the hardest stretch and well worth doing. Just take your time and keep your distances short to start with 😀
      Best wishes and please keep in touch, Ruth

  8. Karen White says:

    Beautiful photos, the rock formations are amazing and the one with the sun rays is spectacular.

I welcome your views

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