Oh I do like to be beside the seaside... but no donkey rides please or Punch and Judy, or slot arcades. This is a civilised affair (sort of). Don't get me wrong, I like a stick-o-rock and I'm first in the queue for fish and chips but if you are looking for something with more charm and fewer cliches for a beach holiday in Norfolk then Wells-next-the-Sea is a delight. It ticks all the British seaside boxes - old fishing boats, lobster pots, ice cream, a harbour wall for crabbing and eating your F&C on, bunting, beach huts and sandy sandwiches as well as a quaint and historic village feel. Over the years I've come to find some lovely shops and spots I thought I would share.
Historically a thriving trading port, Wells is now known best for crabs or "crabbing" in particular. An odd pastime when you think of it... One dangles bacon over the harbour wall waits for the bait to catch and then proceeds to cram as many crabs in a bucket as possible before tipping the contents back over the side at the end of the day. All for the thrill of the catch I guess and they are in such abundance here that success is inevitable. Families line the harbour walls and fill their buckets. Wooden reels and steel buckets are available to hire for £6 a day from a hut including a £5 deposit.
I've been holidaying here for years and witnessing its slow gentrification. The once tired and shabby paintwork has become an advert for Farrow & Ball. And whilst it is lovely to say I remember when it was rough and ready, I'm happy to embrace the change. The pebble cottages are picture perfect and the retail and food offerings are the better for it.
SHOP - A couple of little gems on Staithe Street. Nomad & the Bowerbird with Bringing the Outside In is a beautifully curated lifestyle shop. Its easy to get carried away. The Merchants House hides a few vintage furniture pieces. And my favourite shop is the type of old fashioned hardware store that has anything you could ever need. I bought some fab check shopping bags, see below from M.L. Walsingham & Sons Ltd. N.B. I would direct you to their websites but I don't think they do them justice.
EAT - The first thing I must tell you is that there is only one place to have fish and chips. That is French's by the harbour. Tuck in on the harbour wall. For the best ice-cream go to the Picnic Hut (they also make great sandwiches and you can also pre-order a lunch for the beach). Bang in Wells pictured below does a fantastic brunch that is seasonal and locally sourced. Super family and dog friendly. You can also stay there. The Albatros, a Dutch barge remains moored in the harbour has to be part of your Wells experience. They serve pancakes, live music and great ales. For dinner I recommend The Crown Hotel originally a 16th Century coach inn on the edge of the Buttlands.
SEE - Wells is such a pretty place. Some of the buildings in the town are hundreds of years old, including former coaching inns and public houses. Many are now listed buildings. At the top of the town, lies the Buttlands, a wide green space, fringed by lovely lime trees and surrounded by some impressive Georgian and Victorian houses. Lose yourself down the narrow lanes, in particular the High Street below.
BEACH - It's a windy mile walk along the sea wall to the beach. Don't be put off, its well worth the exercise and besides, you have chips to burn 😉. There is a mini train too if little legs get tired. The beach is vast. Golden dunes that spread for miles when the tide is out leaving the perfect swimming and paddling area. And the edge is lined with the prettiest beach huts and pine woods to make your instagram feed pop.
STAY - I'm afraid I can't give advise in this area. We have always camped in the playing field of the high school for a very small fee with the Camping and Caravaning Club. You must be a member but it is inexpensive to join see here. This is great if you are a camping family and want save the pennies for ice-cream. Wandering around, there seems to be lots of cute fishing cottages. Perhaps Air B&B? Instead I will point you in the direction of this fab website Wells-guide.co.uk
Please let me know if you visit and your thoughts. Have I missed any great places? Is this helpful? I'd love to hear from you.