When lockdown first started back in March 2020, we didn’t think we were going to be able to make our much-anticipated, annual Easter trip to Bude happen. Fortunately, when the hospitality and travel industry started opening up a little bit, we were able to snag a week-long stay at our home-from-home, The Beach Haven, and headed down to Cornwall, during Covid-19, for the second week of the summer holidays at the end of July.
Cornwall during Covid-19 was definitely a very different experience from our usual holiday there. It was still just as wonderful though! You can read all about the first half of our visit in this post: ‘Cornwall During Covid-19 Part 1‘.
This post is our travel diary from the second half of our stay at our happy place by the sea.
This ended up being my most favourite day of our whole holiday! We often joke that the husband likes to go on holiday whereas I like to travel. He wants to relax and do absolutely nothing, whereas I want to be on the go all the time: seeing; doing; exploring; and adventuring. We’ve learnt over the years to make sure our trips have a good mix of both downtime and busy-ness so that everyone is happy. Today was a ‘busy’ day and I absolutely loved it – we squeezed some fun into every minute we possibly could. The girls were exhausted by the end of it and it was 100% worth it.
The day dawned bright and sunny – the first real sunshine of the trip so far – so we headed out in the morning for a breezy walk over the clifftops from Crooklets Beach to Summerleaze Beach and down into Bude town centre for a game of crazy golf and a wander around the shops.
Before we’d even travelled down to Bude I’d warned the girls that Cornwall during Covid-19 would be very different from what we’re used to. There would be social distancing rules to follow, we may have to pre-book certain things we might want to do and some places may not even be open at all. Crazy golf is one of our family traditions. We always find a course to play wherever we go (home or abroad) and Bude is one of our favourites so we were crossing everything that it would be open. Thankfully it was! All the cleaning procedures were in place for the clubs and balls, and all the families on the course took responsibility to keep their distance from each other so there were fewer people than usual and we were able to take our time. Mimi was over the moon to finally be the champion!
After refuelling with lunch back at The Beach Haven, we set off to explore somewhere new in the afternoon. Because we visit Bude every single year I always like to try and add in a new-to-us place to visit so that it keeps our trips fresh and interesting. Often the new places we discover end up becoming firm favourites that get added into our annual ‘must-visit’ traditions.
I thought it would be fairly challenging to find somewhere we’d not been before in Cornwall during Covid-19 that was close to Bude. Tim and Maria, who run The Beach Haven, are full of a wealth of knowledge about lovely, hidden, local spots so we’d chosen one of their recommendations to try out. Stowe Woods and Coombe Valley are a 15-20 minute drive north of Bude down teeny, wiggly, country lanes. We’d been told of a circular loop walk with hidden rope-swings so that’s what we set off to find.
It was an absolutely beautiful walk. We stopped at a rickety old bridge to play a competitive game of Pooh Sticks, found one of the rope-swings and wandered through the woods happily chatting until we reached our car again. The sunlight filtered down through the trees, we saw butterflies and impressively intricate spiderwebs decorating the ferny undergrowth and explored a couple of off-the-beaten path trails that required scrambling down steep slopes and resulted in much hilarity. I bet it’s even more beautiful there in Autumn with all the trees changing colour.
Upon returning to our car we learned that Duckpool Beach (National Trust) was literally a five minute drive further down the lane. It would have been rude not to pay it a visit (and I was already prepared with a boot-full of swimming costumes and towels because no matter where you go you’re never far from the sea in Cornwall). So we headed down there to see what it was like.
My heart sank a little when I saw how busy the car park was and that the toilets were closed but as we stumbled across the rocks towards the sound of the waves I knew it was 100% worth it. I’ve been wanting to visit Duckpool for years and somehow, even with our annual trips to Bude over the last seven or eight years, we’d never quite managed to make it there. It seemed like Cornwall during Covid-19 just happened to be the perfect time to visit.
Everyone else who was already there had spaced themselves at good distances so whilst it had initially appeared busy on arrival, actually there was tons of space to spread out even though it’s quite a small bay. This secluded little beach, framed on either side by towering cliffs, the late afternoon sun glittering on the water like diamonds, was absolutely stunning. I can see why the locals want to keep it off the mainstream tourist track.
The girls played in the waves that continuously and rhythmically rolled in, their joyful shrieks echoing through the air. Behind us, further back up the beach, the river fed a large pool of water (the ‘duck pool’ itself) where littler children played safely. I could honestly have stayed there for hours.
Eventually, reluctantly, we called it a day, packed up our stuff and made our way back to our home-from-home for pizza, a movie and a spectacular sunset and I don’t think there has ever been a more perfect day.
After yesterday’s epic adventures we figured that today needed to be a quiet day, especially as we were heading out for dinner in the evening and knew that it would likely be a late night for everyone.
We wandered into town, mooched around the shops and bought some trinkets and souvenirs (the girls LOVE doing this!), had an ice cream, played on our favourite adventure playground, admired the busy-but-still-just-about-socially-distanced beaches and added ‘crabbing’ to our Bude bucket list for next year. It was just what we all needed.
After the success of my Mum’s special birthday dinner last year, we decided to go to Elements again this year for a family meal out. It was our first time venturing to a restaurant (other than the cafe we had lunch in on the day we arrived in Bude) since lockdown and the re-opening of the hospitality industry.
Truthfully, I was a little nervous. Even though the girls are older it’s still quite hard work making sure no-one touches anything, everyone uses sanitiser, hands are kept away from faces, remembering to take masks everywhere and not knowing what it would be like in the restaurant.
We ended up having an ok meal – the ruling about masks only came in a few days previously so the staff were a little inconsistent in wearing them plus I think it was busier than they’d been anticipating so we had to wait a while for our food. It’s a lovely place though and our favourite part is always heading over the road to watch the sunset from the clifftops afterwards. It wasn’t as spectacular a sunset as I was hoping for but we still added some special moments to our memory banks.
Thursday dawned with bright sunshine, clear skies and a cool breeze. We headed out early to meet up with my Aunt for a socially-distanced walk over the cliffs from Crooklets to Northcott Mouth and it was glorious. The views from here will never, ever get old. I honestly think I could walk there every single day and not get tired of the ever-changing yet somehow stoically-steady landscape.
The early wake-up (well, earlier than the girls are used to on holiday!), long walk and bracing sea air meant multiple requests for a lazy afternoon. We obliged, then decided to say yes to something they had been begging to do since we arrived in Bude: swim in the Sea Pool.
Would you believe we’ve never, ever done it, in all our years of visiting Bude? Apparently our trip to Cornwall during Covid-19 was the year to change that. They were SO excited, had an absolutely brilliant time and I’m pretty sure it’s now going to be an annual tradition no matter what time of year we go (although we might need to invest in some wetsuits if we happen to be there during the chillier months!).
Last year we visited Bude Farmer’s Market for the first time and we were keen to return again this year to help support local makers and growers rebuild their businesses – Cornwall during Covid-19 has really been impacted by lower visitor numbers. The Farmer’s Market takes place every Friday from Good Friday in April right the way through to September and whilst there were definitely less stalls when we visited this time, it was lovely to see everyone’s friendly faces, to stop for a socially-distanced chat with people and to make a couple of quirky purchases.
After lunch we fulfilled our tradition of heading back down to the beach one last time to say goodbye to the sea on our final day before we checked out and headed home the next morning. The morning sunshine had clouded over a bit but not enough to stop the youngest two plunging into the waves up to their necks. They had the time of their lives, emerging almost an hour later shivering and with chattering teeth, the happiest I’ve seen them for a long time.
We’d all really needed this break and it felt like it was over far too quickly. We’re so very grateful that we had the opportunity to escape to our happy place by the sea, overjoyed that Sophie was able to come with us by being part of our ‘bubble’, and whilst Cornwall during Covid-19 was certainly different from what we’re used to, it didn’t impact on us too much, we followed all the rules and were still able to have a great time and make some new, wonderful memories.
We’re already counting down the days to our next visit!
If you’re heading to Bude any time soon, or thinking of booking a trip here next year, do check out my other Cornwall posts for ideas: