Bude Canal and Marshes is an award winning, unique site with an important engineering history, fascinating landscape and outstanding habitats.
These provide a rich tapestry of cultural heritage rooted deep within the vibrant community. Bude’s Canal and Marshes is located in the heart of a busy seaside town.
It provides opportunities to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the Bude valley. Other activities include fishing, kayaking or a gentle stroll along the accessible tow path and or network of well marked walking routes
- Car park on the Crescent (Pay and Display)
- Interpretation and Tourist information centre
- Wheel Chair-Accessible Bird Hide
- Angling (Environment Agency Permit required)
- Rowing Boat hire
- Day launching for Canoes and Kayaks (Permit required)
Bude Canal and Marshes is a rural gem that stretches into the heart of Bude. A stunning combination of, freshwater canal, damp grassland and marsh at Pethericks Mill, Reedbed in the Local Nature Reserve. With a level surfaced tow path of 2.5 miles starting alongside the harbour winding up the valley to Helebridge. The tow path passes two inland working locks giving the passer by a flavour of the intriguing history of the canal and its environs.
For more information please visit the information centre
Bude Marshes just alongside the canal next to the Visitor Information Centre was declared a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 1983. The first in Cornwall, in fact it had been identified as a wildlife amenity area as early as 1955! The reserve covers an area of 6ha (14.5ac) of mainly reed bed, wet grassland and willow carr. In 1999 the area was extended to 9.2ha (22.5ac) when the Environment Agency handed the management of an area of wet scrapes over to Cornwall Council. Pethericks Mill was designed to increase flood storage and the wildlife conservation value of the area as part of the Bude Flood Prevention Scheme. A footbridge (the Peter Truscott Bridge) was built in 2001 to give access from the canal towpath.
The Local Nature Reserve includes an area of 6ha (14.5ac) of mainly reed bed, wet grassland and willow carr.
Pethericks Marsh is a slightly saline environment with wet grassland. The Canal has reedbed fringe habitat, and open water.
Look out for:
- Little Egrets
- Bee Orchids
- Grass Snakes
If you are lucky enough to spot an otter or other wildlife please pop into the Tourist Information centre and report it to a member of staff to display on the wildlife information notice board.
Cornwall Council Managed by: Cormac Solutions Ltd.
A fantastic area of such abundant richness, you would never believe it was at the edge of Bude.
View travel directions to Bude Canal
Find out how to donate a bench or memorial to Bude Canal and Marshes
If you would like to organise an event on the Canal or tow path please follow this link for more information Cornwall Council's guide on organising events.
All members of the public, both local and visitors wishing to launch in Bude Canal are required to pay a day launching fee, this can be paid in the Bude Tourist Information Centre in Crescent Car park, immediately adjacent to the Canal. All commercial users of the canal must do so under licence by Cornwall Council. Day launch permits cannot be purchased by commercial users. For more information please contact 0300 1234 202.
There are four types of permit available:
Paid per craft and entitles the craft to be on the canal for the day of purchase only. £5 per day per craft
Day Launch Group Discount
Paid at a discount per craft for four or more craft in any one group that stay together on the canal up to maximum of 10 craft, to include visiting clubs and educational groups.
£4.00 per craft (up to max 10)
Single Annual Permit
Paid per craft and entitle that craft to use the canal for a season only.
£20 per craft
Family Annual Permit
Covers a specified (at time of purchase to max of 5) number of craft for a season only.
£30 (multi craft)
All payments will be made at the Bude Visitor Information Centre.
Permit holders obligations
Cornwall Council will expect all day launch, and season permit holders to adhere to the Bude Canal code of Conduct. The permit holder is responsible for ensuring users of their craft are aware of the Canal Code of Conduct, any failures to comply will be investigated by Cornwall Council. Cornwall Council retains the right to withdraw permits at any time.
All permit holders will be required to display an adhesive label or hi-vis snap band at all times.
- Bude Canal: Code of Conduct for waterway users
- One pay launch permit application form
- Annual permit application form
To purchase a permit, please print the appropriate application form and take to Bude Visitor Information Centre. For more infomation please visit the Bude Tourist Information Centre in the Crescent Car park Bude.
Information about the habitats in Bude Marshes and our wildlife surveying.
Important Habitats and Species
The main habitat feature of the reserve is the reed bed. Reed marsh is a particularly restricted habitat in Cornwall and Bude Marshes is the fourth largest area of reed in the county. This important area of reed provides valuable habitat for wintering migrant and breeding birds.
Migrant birds have included bittern, glossy ibis, Baillons crake, night heron, and gargany duck, as well as the more regular sandpipers, warblers, etc. The area is also important in summer when there are breeding sedge and reed warbler, moorhen, willow warbler, reed bunting and mallard.
There is a large area of neutral grassland with a damper area near the pond dipping platform. This area has developed on waste ground and is moderately herb rich with two species of orchid, which are monitored annually. The grassland is cut in September to allow wildflower seed to drop, and to ensure the orchids have had a chance to seed. This area is particularly good for invertebrates and is often used for children's bug hunts.
Six Cornwall Scarce species have been recorded within the Bude Marshes Local Nature Reserve . (A Cornwall Scarce species is a species found in four to ten sites in Cornwall )These are-
- Trifid Bur-marigold - Bidens tripartita
- Grass Vetchling - Lathyrus nissolia
- Bee Orchid - Ophrys apifera
- Beaked Tasselweed - Ruppia maritima
- Pink Water-speedwell - Veronica catenata
- Horned Pondweed - Zannichellia palustris
- Plant Surveys
- Bee orchid counts
Each year a group of volunteers at Bude Marshes monitor the orchids found on the dry grassland behind the tourist information centre. The orchids were first recorded in 2002 but there has only been periodic records of numbers .
|Year||Total Number of Bee orchid flower spikes||Number of Marsh Orchids|
At the request of Cornwall Council, the Environment Agency surveyed the fish populations of three lakes in the Bude Marshes. Information gathered will help the Council manage pond habitats and fish populations to maximise the wildlife value of the ponds
Pond 1. Tourist Information Pond (NGR SS 2081305981)
Method: Timed electric fishing survey by boat
|Species caught||Number caught||Length range (mm)|
|Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)||3||62, 64, 136|
|Roach (Rutilus rutilus)||1||118|
|European Eel (Anguilla anguilla)||10||140mm to 310mm|
|Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius)||11||57mm to 220mm|
Pond 2. Bird Hide Pond (NGR SS 2081505743)
Method: Timed electric fishing survey by boat.
|Species caught||Number caught||Length range (mm)|
|Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)||16||22 mm to 119mm|
|Roach (Rutilus rutilus)||45||59mm to 163mm|
|European Eel (Anguilla anguilla)||2||269 and 270mm|
|Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius)||35||58mm to 186mm,|
|Three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)||3||37, 49, 52|
|Tench (Tinca tinca)||9||54mm to 176mm|
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- Countryside Access Team