Every Easter holidays (with the exception of 2020 of course because of the Covid-19 pandemic) we travel down to Bude in North Cornwall. Spring in Bude is our absolute favourite time of year to visit: we usually get lovely, warm, sunny weather; it’s less busy as the summer season meaning that the beaches are a bit quieter; it’s not as rainy as October half term and the unique Cornish flora and fauna is starting to wake up after the long winter.
This year was a slightly shorter trip than usual – only 6 days instead of 7 – because of the timing of the government allowing self-catering accommodation to re-open after the third UK lockdown. You wouldn’t think losing one day would make much difference but we really noticed it. I think we might need to plan to stay for two weeks next year!
We stayed at The Old Bakery, a Beach Retreats property right in town centre. It was, quite literally, a five minute walk from the beach and just two minutes from the town centre shops – it was so convenient. We felt sad to not be able to stay at The Beach Haven as usual but we were very excited to stay somewhere new so we could get a different perspective on this beautiful little seaside town that we know so well.
We were SO lucky with the weather during our stay. We were treated to glorious sunshine and clear blue skies every day and not a single drop of rain. There were spectacular sunsets every night, plus cool mornings and warm afternoons – the perfect example of what Spring in Bude can often be like, and ideal for a family holiday.
We usually travel down to Bude super-early on a Saturday morning and the traffic is typically relatively light and free-flowing. However, government restrictions on travel within the UK after the third Covid-19 lockdown were lifted on a Monday, so despite leaving at our normal pre-dawn time, we were fighting for space amongst commuters and lorries right from the start.
April and September are my two favourite times of year to go on a road trip as I usually manage to catch the sunrise on camera from the passenger seat whilst we head down the motorway after leaving our house at 6am. The weather was not on our side this year – we encountered rain, fog and even snow within the first hour and a half of being on the road! Eventually the colours broke through the clouds.
Thankfully the random mini-winter had cleared once we reached the halfway(ish) point at Bristol and we made it to Bude by midday. It ended up being a longer journey than normal – almost six hours instead of our standard four and a half. Thankfully, because we were the first guests post-lockdown, our accommodation was ready much earlier than it would usually be and we were relieved to be able to check in straight away.
We couldn’t resist a quick stop at Crooklets Beach first though, as per tradition, to say a speedy hello to the sea. It was virtually deserted with only one or two other souls there – I’ve never seen it so empty.
It didn’t take us long to settle into our home for the next few days. There were plenty of excited squeals about the bunk beds (Lola), the ‘snug’ (Ella and Mimi), the cool retro decor (Neil), the light pouring in through the windows and the stunning views (me) as we toured the house.
We had a quick bite to eat and a cuppa, did the main food shop and headed back out again, this time to Summerleaze Beach – literally a three minute walk from the front door – and a brisk walk over the clifftops to clear our heads.
Everyone was pretty worn out from the early start and all the travelling so we headed back to The Old Bakery for dinner and to snuggle in for the evening. I watched the sunset over the sand dunes from our balcony, just feeling so grateful that we’d still been able to escape to our happy place by the sea. A good first day.
Lockdown rules easing slightly meant that non-essential shops were finally open for the first time since Christmas! We love having a mooch around the shops in Bude town centre, so we spent the morning doing just that: wandering in and out of trinket shops, souvenir shops, toy shops, home shops, gift shops and bookshops. The girls plotted what to spend their holiday money on and it felt good to be experiencing a little bit of normality after so long.
In the afternoon we hit the Crazy Golf course, which is literally just around the corner from where we were staying. It’s something we do every single year without fail – it’s become a much-loved and nostalgic family tradition – and even though the girls are probably a bit too old for it now, it’s genuinely one of their most favourite things to do. Spring in Bude is the perfect time to play weather-wise (not too wet and windy, not too hot) and there were only two other families playing whilst we were there so not too busy either.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on Summerleaze Beach playing cricket. I was expecting to have to hustle for a space but the beach was really quiet – it was lovely actually as Summerleaze is one of the most popular beaches in Bude and usually pretty busy no matter what time of year it is. The girls had a blast chasing the ball across the sand and would have stayed there even longer I think, but rumbling tummies took us back to The Old Bakery where we ordered an Indian takeaway for dinner.
I headed back out on my own after dinner as I could see that there was going to be a good sunset. This became a bit of a nightly ritual – a solo evening walk to witness the shifting colours of the sky and marvel at how startlingly beautiful the power of nature can be.
I headed for Bude Sea Pool and stood quietly watching until the sun dipped below the horizon, before making my way down to the water’s edge at Summerleaze, the colours mellowing as the gentle waves lapped the shore. I find watching the sunset such a soul-soothing experience and the sunsets during Spring in Bude are some of the best you’ll see.
The day dawned with yet more clear blue skies and a sprinkling of frost on the ground. We’d arranged to meet my aunt, who lives in Bude, to go for a socially distanced morning walk over the clifftops from Crooklets Beach to Northcott Mouth Beach. It was so lovely to see her and catch up with each other after nine months and this particular walk is one of my favourites.
The views along the coastline are phenomenal. The route forms a small section of the South-West Coastal Path – in one direction you look south towards Widemouth Bay and in the other you look north towards Sandymouth and Duckpool beaches. The gorse is in full bloom during Spring in Bude and the pop of yellow dramatically contrasting against the blue backdrop of the sea and sky really is quite something to see.
Mimi and Lola had put in a request to swim in the sea, so we dutifully headed down to the beach in the afternoon, armed with towels. Ella and I chose to stay on dry land this time as it was a bit chilly for us, but Neil and the girls plunged straight in, shrieking at the shock of the cold water and squealing as they jumped over the waves. How they stayed in for as long as they did, I’ll never know. They emerged, blue-legged and with their teeth chattering, some time later and we headed home to dry off and warm up before going straight back out again – this time for our first ice cream of the holiday.
Our favourite ice cream parlour, Scoops, hadn’t yet re-opened after lockdown, so we opted for Taste Of Cornwall instead. Millionaire’s Shortbread, MarshMallow Mudslide and Jaffa Cake were the delicious-sounding flavours we ordered (after much deliberation – there were so many flavours to choose from!) and they were devoured rapidly before being declared as some of the best ice creams ever.
The sunset on this night was just as stunning as the previous night. I went in the opposite direction this time and headed for Bude Sea Lock before moving on to Summerleaze Beach again as the final streaks of colour painted the sky. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly could watch the sunset ever single night and never, ever get bored. It’s magical.
The first half of our time in Bude was exactly what we needed it to be. The girls might only have been back at school for three weeks since lockdown started to lift but we were all more than ready for the break.
I’ll share what we got up to during the second half of our holiday in a separate post in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you’ve been inspired to book a family holiday to Bude (at any time of year!), have a look at these posts for ideas of things to do whilst you’re there: