In the 19th Century, the town was notorious for wreckers who plundered ship wrecked off the coast - over 80 vessels in the fifty year up to 1874. Bude has some good surfing beaches and was the site of the first life Saving Club. Widemouth Bay is a long sandy beach, looking out towards Lundy Island. Surfers tend to prefer the less popular beach of Crackington Haven. Back along the coombe here can be found the old church of St Gennys, which affords a wonderful coastal panorama from its churchyard.
Bude Castle, a castellated mansion overlooking Summerleaze Beach, was built by the inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830. He was the first man to make a lengthy journey in a mechanical vehicle when he drove a steam carriage from London to Bath and back. The building now houses the Town Council and the attractive grounds are used for concerts and fêtes throughout the summer. A seawater swimming pool under Summerleaze Downs offers safe swimming, for those who prefer to avoid the Atlantic rollers. There is also an indoor Leisure Centre in Bude, in addition to various other sports and entertainment venues.
The coastal scenery surrounding the beaches in the Bude area is quite stunning. There is plenty of interesting bird life for the dedicated twitcher and many lovely walks along the cliff tops. The cliff faces are used by rock climbers and the coastal path around here can be quite a strenuous walk. Along the coast is Sandy Mouth, an ideal family spot with lovely sands and plenty of rock pools. A little further towards Devon is Morwenstow, south of Henna Cliff. The cliff is a sheer drop down to the sea, the highest in Cornwall, and gives spectacular views across to South Wales.
The new Visitor Centre in the Crescent car park is worth visiting. There is an extensive display by the North Cornwall Heritage Coast and Countryside Service and a children's area. All necessary tourist information is available to help plan your holiday, indoors and outdoors. Bude has theatre, concerts, dances, discos, fêtes and other events throughout the season. Some of these events have an historical theme and are specially staged for visitors to the area. There is a weekly Cornish Furry Dance and an annual Carnival Week.
Bude is home to the increasingly popular Bude Jazz festival every August. What is now known as the Atlantic Highway or (A39 to give it it's less glamorous name!) links Bude to the other resorts along the north Cornish coast, ending in Newquay. It is an alternative route into Cornwall from North Devon. The Bude Canal was built in 1823 when it ran for 35 miles on different levels. It was designed to carry beach sand, used as fertiliser, toLaunceston, 20 miles away. It was also used to transport local produce.
The tub boats used on it had wheels so that they could be pushed up and down the inclines separating the levels. Only the first few miles of the canal have survived and are used for pleasure boats and fishing. The breakwater, sea lock and lower basin are all of interest.