Burridge and Beyond
Morwenstow You will see plenty of signposts to Morwenstow but will never see a sign to tell you when you have arrived. This is because Morwenstow is the name of a parish made up of several villages and hamlets spread over a fairly large area. It is the most northerly parish in Cornwall—cross the stream in Gooseham and you are in Devon. Burridge House is on the southern edge. Put ‘Morwenstow’ in your sat-nav. And you will probably end up at the Norman church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist about three miles north of Burridge. Morwenstow is most famous for the quintessentially English eccentric, vicar Robert Stephen Hawker who introduced the Harvest Festival as we know it today. He built a hut out on the edge of the cliff and sat there to write his sermons and poems, reputedly under the influence of opiates. You can still visit the hut (an open to all National Trust property) and look out on the same view that he did from 1834 until his death in 1875. The church is well worth a visit, for its location, ancient font and interesting tombstones.. Rectory Farm Tea Rooms, next door to the church, are well known for their wonderful cream teas.
Beaches The nearest beach, Duckpool, is a favourite with the locals. It has no facilities, except a loo, and no lifeguard cover so you need to be sensible about when to swim; there can be very strong rip tides and odd currents. Over the last few years the level of sand on this beach has altered dramatically from one season to the next. It can vary as much as eight feet in depth from one month to the next depending on storms and currents. Sometimes it is blissfully full of sand but if the sand goes it is just a beach of rocks, with just a little sand at low tide. Sandymouth, just to the south has more reliable sand and also has a shop, café and lifeguard. Continuing are the beaches of Northcott Mouth and, in Bude, Summerleaze (with tidal swimming pool) and Crooklets. Widemouth Bay is a wide sandy beach popular with surfers. The descent to Stanbury, just north of Duckpool, can be tricky and ascent exhausting but the beach at low tide is worth the effort.
Surfing There are several surf schools to choose from in and around Bude and Widemouth and plenty of shops selling designer surfwear. We find the best place to go to for advice and hire and sale of equipment is Zuma Jay in the middle of Bude. For complete beginners or to improve your skill be can recommend Mike Raven of Ravensurf, who taught our son to surf a few years ago. He teaches small groups or individuals from the beach at Widemouth. Nearer to home there is now Sandymouth Surf School which runs from the beach at Sandymouth, less than three miles from Burridge. This school gives a discount to National Trust members and family groups. The carpark here is free to NT members. Both these surf schools provide all the equipment including wetsuits.
Walking Apart from the stunning coast and hinterland with cliff paths and wooded valley walks in the immediate area, you are also near the North Devon coast, Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. There are maps and lots of guide books in the house to help you plan a walk, whether an easy two miles or a more strenuous day trip. Remember to take your binoculars as the bird life can be pretty impressive. The cliffs and woodlands can be a riot of colour at certain times of the year; there is a guide in the house to help you identify the flora.
Leisure There is a leisure centre with swimming pool and a golf course in Bude. Nearby riding stables in Gooseham cater for beginners and experienced riders. Tamar Lakes offer watersports. The National Trust has many glorious properties in Cornwall and Devon. Nowhere in Cornwall is far away and the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan are well within a day trip, as is the less wild south coast.
Shopping Kilkhampton, just a mile away, has nearly everything you need: two general stores (one now with the Post Office, and the other selling papers), butcher, internet café, two pubs and several other interesting shops. Killock Farm shop, one mile south on the A39, sells local and home-grown vegetables, meat and fish, and the bakery makes wonderful cakes, pies, flans and pasties. Bude is a bustling seaside town with a full range of shops and supermarkets to cater for all your needs. The best pasties by far come from the Pengenna pasty shop in Bude (just above the little walled park, next to the florist) where you can see them being made by hand. They even do a mail order so you can have them delivered to your door when you get home! (www.pengennapasties.co.uk)
Eating out The New Inn and the London Inn in Kilkhamton, and the Bush Inn at Crosstown in the heart of Morwenstow are the most local pubs serving food. There is a Chinese takeaway and a fish and chip shop in Kilkhampton. The internet café at Penshell Bakery, opposite the New Inn, is small but does have wireless internet connection as well as two computers, so I take my own laptop. They serve a good range of interesting pizzas, jacket potatoes, paninis etc. either to eat in or takeaway.
If the weather is good you will find plenty to keep you occupied within five miles of Burridge, thus making it a relaxing break without having to battle on the main roads. There are plenty of walking guides, maps and brochures in the house.