Darling Bude in May

(With apologies to H E Bates for traducing the title of his much-loved novel!)

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Bude, North Cornwall. We were blessed with nice spring weather most of the time, and made the most of the opportunity to explore the ravishing coastline nearby.

This part of the coast is made up of highly folded Upper Carboniferous strata – mudstones, siltstones and sandstones, often folded into jumbled, chevron or rounded forms. The rocks were deposited in a brackish basin that was squashed between two continents (Gondwana and Laurasia) during a period of mountain-building – the Variscan orogeny. When you see the bulk and scale of the folding, the forces involved are almost unimaginable, although of course it took millions of years. The image at the top shows ribs of sandstone inclined at about 30 degrees at Widemouth Bay.

Here are a few photos to show the variety of patterns and textures in the rocks, from Breakwater, Summerleaze, Crooklets, Northcott and Widemouth beaches – so much to see in just a few miles, all walkable along the Southwest Coast Path:

The expanses of sand at low tide are also beautiful – a large proportion of the rather coarse golden strand is made up of broken seashells, which make lovely evanescent patterns as the tide washes over them:

I also enjoyed the flora, both seaweed on the beaches, and the profusion of wildflowers in the close-cropped turf of the clifftops: spring squill, kidney vetch, buck’s-horn plantain, thrift, buttercups and daisies, sea campion, bird’s-foot trefoil, catsear, stonecrop, dandelion, valerian, sorrel, wild carrot, alexanders, scurvy-grass and probably some others I missed – and lots of grasses, my favourite being sweet vernal grass, which has a wonderful scent when it flowers. Don’t you just love the poetry of English plant names? The Linnean system is much more precise of course, but lacks the charm of the vernacular.

Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall