The great cliffs north of Bude seem to attract shipwrecks, and in the old days the cliftops were dotted with iron stanchions and cables remaining from previous salvage work. The Bellem, a 1925 ton Potugese ship was originally launched in Flensburg, Germany, as the Rhodos for the Hamburg America line, but was seized by the Allies in Lisbon in 1916.
On 20th November 1917 she was on a voyage from Gibralter to Barry in ballast when she grounded in dense fog at Northcot Mouth, only a mile from Bude breakwater. By chance she had foundered close to where the London Collier Woodbridge had spent April 1915 high and dry before being floated off. The Bellem was not to be so lucky. 33 men, including two Royal Navy gunners,the Bellem was armed with a stern gun, were taken off by breeches buoy. The Bellem soon broke her back and was declared a total loss, being later broken up for scrap.
Another casualty was the trawler Scotia, which stranded in in a May fog in 1917, at near by Menachurch point, which the skipper had somehow mistaken for Rame head.
The Walk Today you can easily see the boiler and some plating of the Bellem, from the cliffs at low tide. If you want to get closer, you will have to climb over the pebble beach, across the rocks and down to the sand at spring low tides, and hike it around the point. I did not do this as the tide was coming in and I could see all I wanted from the cliff top. There is a handy seat right above the spot, so you can’t really miss it.
There is a set of steps going up the cliff to give easy access and the large pebble beach in that area is scattered with old triagular concrete tank traps. There are some wonderfull views along the cliffs, and you can easily see the large dishes of GCHQ to the north, busy hoovering up our emails and telephone messages, so mind what you say.
In the 1980’s some local people recovered the ships prop shaft and supposedly donated it to the Bude Museum. Others however,say that the shaft was used to suport the barrel on the rock at the end of the breakwater.
Northcot Mouth is well signed, and the car park is right near the beach, so you can see the cliff steps from its entrance.