A Pre-GCSE Break In Bude

Every year we travel to Cornwall at Easter for our annual holiday in Bude – our happy place for almost a decade now.  This year our trip felt more important and necessary than ever – a final chance to rest and recharge before the intensity of our eldest daughter’s GCSE exams began the following month.

This post is a travel diary of what we got up to each day, because I love looking back on all the memories.


We travelled down in the early morning, leaving our house at 6am as usual, hoping to beat the school holiday getaway traffic.  There was torrential rain for much of the journey, so it wasn’t the most pleasant of driving conditions for Neil. But we had the ‘Ridgway Road Trip’ playlist turned up loud and with a quick stop at Bristol to grab a hot drink and use the services, time passed fairly quickly.

It really does feel like coming home when we arrive in Bude.  I can feel us all exhaling as we park the car, scramble out and make our way to the beach, just like we always do.  The familiarity is comforting, even if the weather is different every single time we visit – Bude really does have it’s own little micro-climate.  This year we arrived to moody skies and a chilly breeze, but that didn’t stop us walking down to the water, playing in the sand and letting off steam after being cooped up in the car for four hours.

Stretching our legs at Crooklets Beach

We had the beach pretty much all to ourselves!

Sophie and her boyfriend Jack were also travelling down at the same time as us, although they were coming from Southampton rather than the Midlands.  They timed it well, arriving just half an hour or so after we did and joined us as we walked over the clifftops from Crooklets to Summerleaze Beach.

We ‘divided and conquered’ – some headed off to the pub to watch what was apparently a Very Important football match, whilst the other half of our little group headed to a cafe for lunch and a mooch around the shops to escape the drizzle.

Sophie and Jack joined us and we walked ‘over the top’ into town

Taking in the (drizzly) views across Summerleaze Beach

We got some supplies for the week and headed to our accommodation – The Beach Haven – which is where we usually stay.   We consider it to be our home-from-home whenever we visit Bude – the kids are 100% comfortable claiming their bedrooms and flopping on the sofa, our phones all automatically re-connect to the wifi, and we feel settled-in as soon as we walk through the front door.

The rain eventually cleared and the sky put on a rather spectacular show for us that evening.  The balcony at The Beach Haven is the perfect spot to watch the sun sink below the horizon.  I stood up there for ages soaking in the gorgeous colours and the peace & quiet, ready for whatever the next day had in store for us.



I’m not sure that I’ve ever watched the sunrise in Bude – it’s position on the North coast of Cornwall, facing westwards, means that there aren’t many spots to catch a good view of it.  But this year I headed out for a solo walk anyway, before anyone else was awake, just to see what it was like.  I was rewarded with the most beautiful candyfloss coloured skies over Summerleaze Downs, which in turn reflected over the sea.  100% worth it.

Sunrise at Crooklets Beach

I returned to The Beach Haven to find the household beginning to stir.  Once everyone was up and breakfasted, Ella asked if she could go for a walk to the beach with me.  It’s rare now that any of the teenagers voluntarily leave the house and rarer still that they want to spend one-to-one time with me, so I said an immediate and enthusiastic yes and off we went.

We wandered over to Summerleaze, chatting about exams and summer plans, stopping to take photographs along the way.  I do so love these snatched moments of connection with each of my girls – uninterrupted time for them to share what’s going on in their head and heart, to have the space to be listened to and the opportunity to just ‘be’.

Exploring with my girl

I can never resist drawing a heart in the sand!

A competitive game of crazy golf was the order for the afternoon – it’s always one of the first activities we do in Bude.  The little nine-hole course is just right in length and even though we’ve played it many times before, this year a hole-in-one eluded us all.  It was, as it always is, an intense match, with Neil being the overall victor.

An intense game of crazy golf to kick start the holiday in style

We headed to Scoop Ice Cream for a celebratory ice cream and to start off our ongoing tradition of having an ice cream every single day when we’re on holiday.  There are many ice cream parlours in Bude but Scoop is one of our favourites for sure.  Rocky Road and Eton Mess, with all the toppings and sprinkles, were the favourite flavours today.  And – bonus! – because of the reward card I’d kept from last year, one of them was completely free of charge and free ice cream is always a good thing.

Inside Scoop Ice Cream – it’s such a cute and colourful little ice cream parlour, it makes me really happy!



It was an absolutely glorious morning, so after my successful sunrise walk yesterday I headed out again this morning for golden hour.  Being out early in the morning before the rest of the world is awake is one of my favourite times of day.  It’s so peaceful.

Morning golden hour at Summerleaze Beach

We had plans for a long walk this afternoon, so our only goal in the morning was to head into town for our daily ice cream.  This time we chose Bude Ice Cream, and went crazy with the flavours – toffee fudge, mint choc chip and blackcurrants & cream.  Sophie was working on her dissertation and Jack had an online meeting with his uni at lunchtime so we had a bit of downtime before we headed back out.

Last year we discovered the ‘Zig-Zag’ woods thanks to excellent directions from my aunt, who lives in Bude.  They’re actually called Stamford Hill Woods and at the right time of the year they are absolutely covered in a lush carpet of bluebells and wild garlic – the scent is insane.  It’s a really beautiful spot and there are some fun rope swings to play on too.  Sadly, as we were a couple of weeks earlier for our Cornish stay this year, the bluebells weren’t yet out.  Maybe we’ll see them next year instead.  We enjoyed the walk anyway and came back via a slightly different route – I always love finding new-to-us places to explore.

Having Sophie and Jack on holiday with us is always a lot of fun – there’s definitely more laughter and silliness in the house when they’re around.  Plus Neil and I have the added advantage of being able to safely leave the girls with them for a short while so we can go out for a walk together.  I wanted to chase the sunset at the beach so he came with me and we watched it together, starting at Crooklets, then heading over the Bude Sea Pool and finishing at Summerleaze Beach.   It was an absolutely spectacular one and I’m so glad we went out to watch it.

Sunset at Crooklets Beach…

…Bude Sea Pool…

…and Summerleaze Beach


We tend to try and make the Tuesday of our trip a ‘day out’ day to head a little further afield and visit somewhere we’ve not been to before (or to re-visit somewhere we haven’t been for ages).  We choose Tuesday (weather permitting of course) because it’s sandwiched at the midway point in between the long journey to get to Cornwall at the start of the holiday and the long journey back home again at the end, so it’s not too many car journeys all at once.

This year we decided to head across the border into Devon, to pay a visit to Strawberry Fields Farm Shop in Lifton.  It’s about a 45 minute drive away from Bude and I had high hopes for our excursion.  We intended to do flower-picking – daffodils and tulips – and then have lunch in the cafe before a wander around the award-winning farm shop itself to pick up some yummy treats to take back with us.

As it turns out, the daffodil fields were finished and the tulip fields weren’t quite blooming yet, so flower-picking was off the table.  We did see some utterly adorable baby animals though – two teeny highland cows and a very newly born foal who was still all wobbly on his legs.  We cooed over them for a while (even the teenagers!) but it was still too early for lunch, so we headed straight for the farm shop instead, which was huge.

There was a whole rainbow of brightly-coloured fresh fruit and vegetables; rows upon rows of store-cupboard delicacies;  deli counters stuffed full of tantalisingly tempting quiches and cheeses; display stands laden with cakes and breads and pastries; and so much more.  Talk about a feast for the eyes!  I stopped to look at the bee observatory, where you could see worker bees actually creating honey through a little window, and learnt a heap of interesting facts from the information stand that was there.  I couldn’t resist buying a jar of honey (I can confirm that it’s absolutely delicious) along with Neil’s choices of some shortbread, some giant scotch eggs and a couple of Cornish Pasties.  I mean, it would be rude not to, right?

We headed home for lunch and then, to make up for the morning that hadn’t quite gone to plan, we walked over the top, took some photos and pottered around the shops, stopping for an ice cream from Scoop partway through.  Bubblegum, salted caramel, raspberry ripple and cafe latte were today’s flavour choices.

I’ve taken this photograph every year for almost ten years now and it’s quite astonishing how much the girls have grown. A visual representation of how everything and nothing changes all at once.

Never too old for a piggy-back 🙂

Sophie had an online job interview late afternoon/early evening (spoiler alert – she ended up getting the job and we’re all so incredibly proud of her!), so once that and dinner were out of the way we all played cards until late.  I honestly haven’t laughed so hard for ages – it was brilliant.



We woke up on Wednesday morning to pouring rain and decided that the only thing for it was a trip to the bowling alley.  There is a maximum limit of six people per lane and as there were seven of us altogether I chose to sit out – I was feeling a little out of sorts anyway so I didn’t mind and was happy to sit and watch.  It was a good game – everyone got on even though there was some fierce competition happening, and we all had fun.

I needed to clear my head so in the afternoon, when the downpour reduced to a drizzle and then eventually stopped for a brief period of time, I took the opportunity to go out for a solo wander whilst everyone else stayed home working on uni stuff // reading // playing board games.  The wind was wild and the seafoam had blown all the way up onto the clifftops – it looked like snow!

Sea foam scattered on the clifftops thanks to the crazy wind

We’d booked a table at The Brendon Arms for dinner this evening and the girls were all super excited about it.  I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I ended up staying home for a quiet evening and an early night whilst they went out without me.   It was the right choice – they all had a brilliant time and I felt much better by the next morning.



Sophie and Jack were heading home this morning, so we took some photos in the garden at The Beach Haven (which always looks gorgeous at this time of year) as a record of our time together.  There is always a lot of grumbling and eye-rolling from everyone but I’m really glad I managed to convince them all to do it because I love the photos I was able to capture.

We made our way over to Electric Bakery for one final treat (and so Sophie and Jack could pick up some snacks for their long journey).  Electric Bakery is becoming a bit of a hot-spot in Bude and it’s well worth paying a visit.  The selection of cakes and pastries changes daily, as does their menu of hot food.  And their Cornish Pasties are “the best I’ve ever tasted” according to Neil, which is high praise indeed from someone who considers himself to be a bit of a pasty-connoisseur.

New favourite photo 🙂

We spent the afternoon wandering along Bude Canal with my aunt, our destination being The Weir cafe, where we stopped for a while for some tea and cake before heading back towards town again.  It’s a bit of a tradition of ours now and it’s always lovely to catch up with her and have a long chat.

Wandering along Bude Canal

It was another absolutely stunning sunset this evening, which I chose to watch from the balcony at The Beach Haven this time.  I really do feel so very lucky and grateful every single time I get to witness a sight like this – it takes my breath away.

Sunset from The Beach Haven balcony



Friday was the final full day of our holiday and I really wanted to make the most of every moment I could, so my first mission was to go out and catch the sunrise again.  It was a gorgeous morning – clear blue skies and the sun just touching the tips of the waves and turning them golden as I walked over the clifftops.  I will never, ever tire of these views.

Magical morning light

The girls really wanted to visit Bude Farmers and Craft Market, which is on every Friday morning from Good Friday through to the end of September.  It was the first one of the year today, so they went down to the Canal Wharf for a wander around the stalls, followed by a final quick game of crazy golf.

Meanwhile, I met up with the new owner of The Old Bakery for a coffee and a chat – we stayed there a couple of years ago as the world was coming out of the final lockdown and we loved it.  You can read my Old Bakery review post here.  The new owner wanted to meet me to discuss how we could potentially collaborate together in the future.  He also owns The Pink House in Bude as well, which is somewhere I’ve been desperately wanting to stay for a very long time – it looks absolutely gorgeous inside.

We spent the afternoon playing cricket on the beach and paddling in the sea – we realised we hadn’t actually got our feet wet at all this holiday and needed to rectify that!  I went for a wander up to the top of the cliffs on the other side of Crooklets Beach to admire the views, and then we got our last ice cream of the holiday, this time from Rosie’s Kitchen, another Bude must-visit.  It’s only recently re-opened following afire that ravaged their kitchen area and they’ve made quite a few changes to the menu. It looks good (and the ice cream was as reliably delicious as always).

Playing cricket at the beach is one of the girls favourite things to do.

As is paddling and jumping waves in the sea!

The route up to the clifftops – 100% worth the steep climb

The view from the top really is very special

Everyone was tired after a full-on afternoon of playing, but I couldn’t resist going out again after dinner to say goodbye to the sea and chase the sunset one final time.  I followed it from Crooklets Beach, to Bude Sea Pool, to Summerleaze Beach, to Bude Sea Lock and back again and it was honestly one of the best I’ve seen.

It also meant I got to put off packing to come home for another hour or so.  None of us wanted to leave – we never do.

The final sunset of the holiday

Sunset at Bude Sea Lock

And that completes another week of memories made in Cornwall.  We’re already looking forward to our next adventure, this time during the summer holidays.  Bude has a definite pull for all of us – we can’t seem to stay away.  It has a magic all of it’s own and I’m so grateful that we’re able to visit year after year to continue adding to our family story.

For more ideas on things to do in Bude, here are some posts I’ve written with suggestions:

Free Things To Do In Bude

Top Ten Things To Do In Bude (Part One)

Top Ten Things To Do In Bude (Part Two)

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