Reality of living in the sunniest and wettest places in Cornwall

The weather for most of Cornwall is often pretty predictable – cloudy, mizzly and grey. Or so people would think.

But there are two places in the Duchy which seem to boast consistent weather results – no matter what the county-wide forecast is.

One lucky location actually boasts all the golden glory, yet another less than an hours drive away is often plagued by unruly rain.

But why does one get all the sunshine? Why does one get so wet? And what do people in both locations make of it all?

For those living in Bude, the town gets to take solace in the fact it is statistically the hottest place in the whole of Cornwall – boasting what has been dubbed its very own ‘micro-climate’.

Bodmin Moor on the other hand – just thirty miles away – gets the crown for being the rainiest place in all of Cornwall.

Formerly known as Bude Haven, Bude is the most northern town in Cornwall and has long been one of the most popular seaside resorts in the county.

Now it is clear to see why.

During lockdown, the seaside resort boasted some of the highest temperatures in the entire country – being the third warmest place in the whole of the UK on one particular sunny day in April.

The Met Office has explained why – it said the cloud travelling up from the south often breaks up over high ground such as Bodmin Moor before it can arrive in Bude, meaning the area experiences more sunshine.

A spokesperson said: “If you’ve got lots of clouds coming up from the south, the cloud can break up over high ground by the time it gets to Bude, which then gets more sunshine.

“Obviously one other factor is wind direction. Southerly winds will bring sunnier weather and temperatures.

“If wind is coming from a north westerly direction it is unlikely Bude will come out on top, as there is more exposure in its location.”

Bodmin Moor according to the Met Office is the rainiest place in Cornwall
(Image: Cornwall Live)

Nearby Bodmin Moor is the rainiest place in all of Cornwall, thanks to what locals call ‘the Brown Willy effect’ – which produces heavy localised rain which can cause disastrous flash flooding, such as the Boscastle flood of 2004.

A spokesperson for the Met Office explained in more technical terms, that the increased rainfall on Bodmin Moor was actually down to orographic enhancement, saying: “The high ground significantly enhances precipitation.”

It explained: “The rain gauge with the highest rainfall is Caradon Hill, with average annual rainfall (1981-2010) of 1744mm.

“A convergence line is a band of cloud that remains fairly stationary and can lead to the development of frequent showers and large amounts of rain across a relatively small area.

“Convergence lines are where wind blows from different directions and collide, leading to lines or bands of showers. A well-known example of this is a sea breeze which occurs during the warmer months of the year, though convergence lines can happen at any time of the year.”

Stay in the know

Last summer, Cornwall Live went to beautiful Bude to chat with the locals about the weather – and it was no surprise to locals that it turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer.

Jess, the manager of Crooklets Beach Cafe, just shy of the seafront, said: “It seems to have a little micro-climate in Bude compared to the rest of Cornwall.

“When I leave Devon it can often be overcast and when I get here it will be sunny. But not always.”

Sisters Sophie and Katie Watts had been working at the café for two and three years respectively and they had to agree that Bude was sunny the majority of the time.

Katie said: “I can see why they say it but people don’t come for the weather, they come for Bude.”

Sandra, who was soaking up the rays with a group of family and friends, said: “It’s definitely very sunny. It is fabulous. We do get wind but it is gorgeous today.

Ernie, 90, Sandra, 64, Jean, 79 and Debbie, 56, enjoying a day out in Bude last summer
Ernie, 90, Sandra, 64, Jean, 79 and Debbie, 56, enjoying a day out in Bude last summer

“They say that Bude has its own micro-climate,” she added.

She had only lived in the town for two years but said that the summers were “only getting better” and were definitely “on the up”.

Her auntie Jean, however, has lived in the area for over 30 years so has seen her share of Bude weather and agreed with Sandra, saying: “We do have nice summers here and they are just getting nicer.”

Pensioner Angela North, who was enjoying an afternoon sunbathing in her Bude beach hut, said: “It is beautiful. When the sea mist comes in its just lovely.

“Sometimes when its nice here, you can go just a couple of miles away and it can be misty. I enjoy all the seasons here though.”

Angela North, in her early 70s, has a beach hut in Bude and often enjoys the sunshine

Another woman relaxing on the beach, who preferred not to be named, recalled her childhood in the town during war time.

She said: “We came on the beach whenever it was sunny, which usually felt like most of the time.

“The beach was our playground growing up, my mother used to pick us up from school and we’d go straight to the beach and stay there until it was bedtime.

“I definitely think that is believable [that Bude is the sunniest place in Cornwall]. You can often see clouds towards Holsworthy and they just seem to sit there and never reach Bude.”

Jeane and Bernard Hayes from Manchester have been visiting Bude for over 40 years, usually in July and September .

Jeane and Bernard Hayes from Manchester have been visiting Bude for the past 40 years
Jeane and Bernard Hayes from Manchester have been visiting Bude for the past 40 years

They said: “We always have sunshine when we visit. It’s usually sunnier here than other places in Cornwall. We have high expectations for good weather when we come down and we’re never disappointed.”

It seems to be common knowledge that the town has its own ‘micro climate’ and does indeed enjoy the blessing of high temperatures and above-average hours of sunshine.

But what about over on rainy Bodmin Moor?

Just days after visiting sunny Bude, Cornwall Live then took a trip to the moors. You couldn’t make it up – it was pouring with rain and the expansive stretch of heather-covered granite moorland was soggier than anticipated, despite it being dry just a few miles away.

In Bolventor, a small hamlet on Bodmin Moor and home to Jamaica Inn, staff laughed at the suggestion and said they were not surprised at all.

“We are literally sat in front of the windows right now and it’s absolutely pouring down,” said Kate Smith, Jaimaica Inn’s general manager. “We do seem to have our own climate up here anyway.”

Kate lives in Launceston and travels to Bolventor most days for work and said: “Literally as you are coming down the hill and back up again you can see the clouds.”

She hadn’t heard of the Brown Willy effect but said: “It is well known that we have bad weather here. As you are driving towards Bodmin Moor you can normally tell that the clouds are above it”.

Jamaica Inn general manager Kate Smith and owner Allen Jackson

Kate said that the rainy weather they experience is not a bad thing though, and that it can actually help the business, adding: “We have all the open fires and stuff like that so it is a nice place to come in from the rain”.

Owner of Jamaica Inn, Allen Jackson, said: “One of the extraordinary things about Jamaica Inn is that our busiest times are when the weathers bad”.

He bought Jamaica Inn over six years ago and said he has never been able to understand why people go to the wilds of Bodmin Moor when the weather is wet and windy.

You can stay up-to-date on the top news near you with CornwallLive’s FREE newsletters – find out more about our range of daily and weekly bulletins and sign up here or enter your email address at the top of the page.

He said: “Our turnover rockets when we get bad weather amongst a good spell. I can understand why people don’t go on beaches but I don’t understand why they come up here.

“There are plenty of other things you can do, but take a rainy day in August and suddenly everybody comes up here. It is very strange.”

Kate added: “We are not complaining though, they can keep coming”.

Jamaica Inn on a wet and windy day
Jamaica Inn on a wet and windy day
(Image: Cornwall Live)

“If we know the weather is going to be really bad we actually get extra staff in and that’s how we know people are going to come here,” added Mr Jackson.

He said that the busiest day at Jamaica Inn in 2019 was a dreadful day in August when they did 331 lunches and 268 dinners.

And this was clear to see as dog walkers were in and out of Jamaica Inn whilst we were there – so visitors are obviously not deterred by the weather conditions.

We trudged around wet and windy Bolventor in the search for some people, but it is safe to say on a day that rings true to Bodmin Moor’s rainy status, there were not many people around happy to have a chat.

Rob Marsh happened to have just got back from a trip to sunny Bude that morning.

He said it was windy, but dry, compared to a now sopping Bodmin Moor.

When we told him that Bodmin Moor is statistically the rainiest place in Cornwall, it didn’t surprise him either.

“It is the only place I know where it literally rains sideways all the time,” he said. “ Bodmin Moor probably is the rainiest place, not necessarily Bolventor but the moors in general.”

Summit Cairn on Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall
Summit Cairn on Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall
(Image: Geograph \ Sheila Russel)

Janet Harrington, from St Breward, said that it was “most certainly” the rainiest spot in Cornwall.

She said: “My daughter lives in Surrey and she always calls and says that they have lovely weather and I look out the window and we don’t.”

Despite this she said she would never move, saying: “It wouldn’t have changed our mind to move here. We love this village, it’s perfect.”

Danielle Simpson, from St Breward, knew all about the Brown Willy effect, and agreed completely that Bodmin Moor was the wettest place in Cornwall.

She said: “Absolutely, definitely, totally one hundred percent. It’s extremely wet and miserable when it wants to be.”

Fellow villager Sandra Crisell said the moors experience good weather too. “I don’t think it’s the rainiest,” she said. “You learn to take the good with the bad and I don’t think it’s that bad”.

Cornwall Live