Bude’s been having a bit of an identity crisis lately. Still the kiss-me-quick seaside town at heart, its pubs are busy, the beaches wide and beautiful, and the shops a mix of tourist tack and surf chic. But look closely and Bude is sprucing up its image. Boutique hotels are cropping up (www.thebeachatbude.co.uk), the locals are working hard to save the brilliant sea pool (www.budeseapool.net), and excellent surfside eateries – such as Life’s a Beach (http://lifesabeach.info) – are still booked out to the rafters every evening.
The Bude Canal, towpath and nature reserve have also undergone huge regeneration in recent years, as a result of which it’s not just the wildlife that’s thriving: kayakers, fishermen and walkers are out in force, and families are flocking to the interactive wildlife centre and lakeside café at The Weir (www.weir-restaurant-bude.co.uk).
However, Bude is still the sort of place that you have to take time to seek out the gems. Strike out north along the coastline past Northcott and Sandymouth, and you are stepping into some of North Cornwall’s wildest and most remote territory. Jurassic-looking ridges yawn towards the border of Devon, vast cliffs collapse onto rocky beaches and only hardy swimmers and surfers plunge into the frothing seas. And here – where grazing cattle and the odd rambling farmstead punctuate sprawling countryside – is where you’ll find Park View.
About 5 miles out of Bude, north of Kilkhampton, Park View is a retro holiday cottage designed for the sort of people who want to embrace the natural surroundings and still have fun. Every detail is vintage – from the Motown vinyl collection, sheepskin rugs and chintzy tea sets, to patterned wallpaper, chequered flooring, black and white wall prints and English Rose kitchen. But despite being meticulously styled to give the impression of walking into the 50’s, all the equipment is fully-synched to the modern era – think SMEG appliances, eco-heating system, iPod dock and DVD player.
Set up for fun-loving couples or families (there’s a bunk room with Russian dolls and shelves lined with children’s classics), Park View is a short drive from Duckpool beach, where you can get a Cornish ice cream cone from the appropriately retro Hokey Pokey ice cream van (www.thehokeypokeyicecreamvan.co.uk).
Park View, West Barbary Holidays, Borough Farm, Kilkhampton Rd, Bude, EX23 9PY
01840 230990, 07968 728354