Saturday, August 09, 2008

Canal Walk: Bude Canal

The weather forecast for today was bad but we decided to drive to Bude anyway. We parked near the beach in a pay and display car park. The rain never stopped but did ease off enough to tempt us out of the car. There are what look like WW2 concrete defences around the edge of the carpark along the sand dunes. We walked over the sandy beach to the River Neet and the canal's Sea Lock. There were people surfing in the sea, the bay is sheltered by a break water, part of the original canal plan. Bude has some of the worst sea water quality in the UK.The lock gates on the sea lock are huge. Despite this one had become dislodged during a storm recently and had to be rehung. A shotgun was one of the items recovered while the canal was drained to do this. The locks stonework is very solid. The mooring rings look like they have been gven steroids too. Everything looks like a regular canal lock but on a larger scale. Along side the lock is a slope down to the beach via a small bridge over the River Neet. On the slope are the remains of a railway. Sand was brought up from the beach on the railway on horse drawn wagons. It was then tipped into barges to be taken inland by canal to be used as manure on the fields.

There are quite a few boats in the lower wharf including some rowboats and pedalos for hire. Pleasure boating on the Bude Canal has been popular for over 100 years. Maybe next time we will explore the canal by boat, weather permitting.The first bridge we came to was Falcon Bridge next to the Falcon Inn. The bridge replaces a large swing bridge. There isnt much headroom under the bridge which stops most boats entering the upper wharf and using the barge canal beyond. Next to Falcon Bridge is the old lifeboat house, now a private home. Nearby is a converted canal warehouse, now apartments.There were lots of dogs walkers braving the rain on the towpath. We had decided to just walk the first mile of the barge canal but we didnt even make it that far. The towpath was closed off and there was no way around. Defeated by the Bude Canal we walked back through the nature reserve which borders the canal. There were some ducks, a heron and a cormorant drying its wings on a rooftop. At the lower wharf there is a heritage centre which has some expenisve books and guides to the Bude Canal. Back at the sea lock the rain was getting worse so we went back to the car.Hopefully next time the sun will be shining and the towpath open.

1 comment:

Philippa said...

When you're next in Bude, check out the heritage centre for ideas on places to go for a walk in Bude, without spending money on the guides.

There's plenty of nooks and crannies to be discovered with lots of great architecture to see without costs involved, if you know where to look!