Saturday, August 15, 2009

Canal Walk: Bude Canal

We parked in the big pay and display car park by the beach in Bude. It was a very hot and sunny day. The beach was busy with tourists, the sea full of swimmers and surfers, and the sea lock was surrounded by people fishing for crabs and enjoying one of our unpredictable days of sunshine.
We walked up to Falcon Bridge and went to the Canal Information Centre. I bought a walking guide there for £2.99. It has walks along the canal and around the surrounding area. The centre has displays about the canal and is worth a quick visit.
We then went back to the towpath and walked up to the locks. Both locks on the barge canal have been refurbished in the last year. The stone work has been repaired and replaced. New gates have been put on and new winding gear added. Its great to see such an acheivement but what use is it without at least one boat to use them?
Just before Rodds Bridge there is a one mile cast iron mile post. Its nice to see it still in place, the 2 mile post also survives.
Past the bridges we soon arrived at Hele Bridge which unsurprisingly has some bridges. After a short stretch of canal, which has some surviving canal buildings along side it, we reached the end of the the line. This is the end of the barge canal. From here only the trains of small tub boats would continue. They went from the canal up to Marhamchurch via an incline plane.
There is a short section of the plane that has been cleared to give you an idea of what it looked like. Maybe it can be restored at some point. We walked up the hill to Marhamchurch and visited the church. St. Morwenna's is a very nice 14th or 15th century church with a distinctive floor. After the church we went to the pub and had a pint and a packet of crisps.
After the pub we went back down to the canal and headed back to Bude. We detoured from the towpath and took a path through the community woodland to the coast path. Unfortunately it is more of a insect infested swamp than woodland and we were eaten alive by huge flies. At the coast you get great views along the cliffs and of the geology down on the beach.
Back at Bude we had just enough time to get back to the car before the time was up.

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