Nestled between two nature reserves and set within a seven-acre small holding, Bude Hideaways are just a short drive to Bude’s many beaches, but could be a world away. As the name suggests, they are indeed perfectly hidden away deep in the countryside, reached by wild country lanes bursting with cow parsley.
Karen and Conrad Allen moved here with their family from London ten years ago. After searching for several months they discovered the farmhouse in desperate need of repair but crucially, with a couple of barns already on site. We arrived to a warm greeting from Conrad who took us on a short tour of the largest of the barns – The Cob – our home for the next few days.
The Cob, bookable through i-escape, is a visual feast; light, open and contemporary. We unpacked then settled into the comforting snug to read, woodburner gently crackling away in the background, while our daughter napped. A great deal of our time thereafter was spent in the striking double-height open-plan kitchen and dining room; the most wonderful space in which to cook and enjoy meals.
The rest of the barn follows suit, wonderfully spacious and set over two floors offering everything you could possibly need: under-floor heating throughout, sumptuous linen, complimentary REN toiletries, a well stocked kitchen, dishwasher, washing machine, stacks of magazines, games and DVDs, and for those visiting with little ones, a cot, high chair and stair-gates.
We wanted for nothing, and totally fell in love with the décor, especially the mid-century vintage Ercol furniture and pops of colour from the Eames dining chairs and bold artwork.
Outside, there are two decks – to take in both the morning and afternoon sunshine – as well as beautifully designed gardens and a small woodland to explore. Guests are encouraged to collect eggs from their free-range chickens during their stay and we thoroughly enjoyed this part of our stay. The Allen’s are also working with the Devon Wildlife Trust to create a wildflower meadow in their largest field and the barn is surrounded by an abundance of wildlife, including roe deer, buzzards and barn owls.
On our first morning, we drove to Summerleaze beach, one of Bude’s main town beaches. Here we found a lovely stretch of golden sand and high above on the dunes, a perfect line of candy-coloured beach huts. We walked the water’s edge, explored the fishing boats and built sandcastles, every now and then passed by an eager surfer heading for the waves. The famous Bude Natural Sea Pool was closed for cleaning during our stay, but this 1930’s-built institution is the perfect spot for a gentle paddle and well worth a visit. For surf lessons, try the The Big Blue Surf School.
The next morning we headed down the coast to the fishing village of Boscastle. The village is set deep into a valley, so we parked at the top and walked down the picturesque path towards the sea, pausing now and then to photograph the pretty cottages nestled into the rocks. We took some time to explore the picture-perfect tea-shops and then cross the bridge and follow the coast path up and along the cliff edge where we found a perfect bench for a picnic lunch, looking out at the wild sea beyond.
After lunch we made our way back up the headland, stopping first at Crackington Haven. Forming part of the Heritage Coast, it is a wild beach with soaring, craggy cliffs on either side. We sat on the pebbles for a while, taking in the dramatic views and breathing in the fresh sea air. The tide was high during our visit, but at low tide, it offers great rock-pooling, and if you’re peckish, the Coombe Barton Inn serves good food overlooking the beach.
From here, we drove the coast road back towards Bude, making our final stop of the day at Northcott Mouth. It’s more secluded than the main beaches so makes a great spot for families. At low tide, it’s possible to walk along the coast and explore hidden shipwrecks.
On our way home we made a final stop at beautiful Clovelly village, just across the border in Devon. Making our way down the steep cobbled street (no vehicles are allowed here), passing sweet cottages and the imposing New Inn, decorated in the Arts and Crafts style, we finally reach the harbour walls. Here, we found a film crew has just wrapped up a period drama shoot and we are truly at the mercy of the elements. Still, it’s well worth the journey down for the breathtaking scenery and for the exhilaration of holding on tight to the wall as we are almost blown into the sea.
Bude is well-served with nearby restaurants and cafes. On our first night we headed to family-friendly The Deck, set above Summerleaze beach. The food is a relaxed fare, made from delicious fresh, local ingredients. We feasted on fish and chips and delicious mussels – sourced from the nearby River Ex – in a lime, chilli and ginger broth. Afterwards, we wandered the dunes bathed in golden-hour sunlight and couldn’t have been happier.
The following morning we enjoyed an unusually leisurely breakfast at the Cob. The Allen’s thoughtfully provided a breakfast hamper so we tucked in to local bacon, fresh eggs from their free-range chickens and fresh coffee made on the stove. We sat for a while in the calming space overlooking the garden, planning our day’s activities.
On our way into Boscastle, we stopped at the farm shop to stock up on picnic supplies. Here we found locally produced in-season fruit and vegetables but also generous slices of quiche, pies, salads, freshly baked bread as well as biscuits and sweet treats. Set high above the village, there is a restaurant on site but we took our feast with us, finding a bench along the coast path with a view out to the sea. Just perfect.
Images by Charmaine Beaumont-Hammond