Norfolk Passport

Top 5 | Wells-next-the-Sea

Welcome to Wells! A port town, not at the mouth of a river, but a little way up on the North Norfolk coast. This area of North Norfolk has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is known for its natural scenery, architecture and an ongoing sense of traditional community ways.

Here is our Top 5! We’ll leave it to you to at least double the list!

The quay 

This is the name for the harbour itself and its surrounds. Fishing boats and children ‘gillying’ (crabbing) guarantee always something to see plus there’s The Albatross, a North Sea clipper, to explore. Real ale and Dutch pancakes anyone? 

The east end of the Quay is home to the iconic Granary building c. 1903, its overhead gantry was designed to load grain onto big ships. 

Why not take a Wells harbour tour aboard the Wells Ferry, departing daily on the tide from the main pontoon opposite Wells harbour office.

The beach

Of course! Wells is THE place for those iconic beach hut pics, seals snoozing on sandbanks and miles and miles and miles of beach.

In fact, if you kept going, you’d end up at Holkham beach. The Corsican pinewoods behind the huts were planted to protect the land from the wind-blown sand but now provide opportunity for an adventurous circular route – beach outbound, the wild woods on return. Often you can walk in the shade when you're going through the woods and find shelter if it's very windy on the beach. 

Flood defence wall

Not very thrilling, you might think, but this 'wall' comes complete with a children’s play area, a pitch and putt en route (when did you last have a go?!) and a narrow gauge miniature railway which will transport you the mile or so from the Quay to the beach. From experience, it's rather relaxing taking the train on the way back after a fun day at the beach (the track goes along the road on the left on the image). 

As you arrive, take a short stroll east to the RNLI lifeboat station, open to visitors during the summer months and a great picnic spot providing shelter from an offshore breeze all year. 

The views across the channel over the marsh and on to the distant East Hills is really rather stunning.

Architecture

Venture into Wells going up Staithe Street, (don’t miss Catesby’s, a home decor shop) the High Street and on to Buttlands (the green) and take time to admire traditional streets of Victorian and Georgian houses. 

As a commercial fishing port, the legacy of a once-wealthy Wells has left architecture at its most graceful; beautiful sash windows and pastel colours.

Railway

The light railway rides between Wells and Walshingham are so picturesque. The trains go four times a day during the high season and take about 45 minutes. Wells' station is next to the A149 on the Stiffkey Road where there is plenty of parking. 

Once aboard, sit back and enjoy the 'nostalgic and atmospheric sights, sounds and smells of steam travel'. You'll travel over and under bridges, pass a hill-fort and an abandoned platform before arriving in Walsingham which is known for its shrines and abbeys.


A cheeky 6th!

French’s fish and chips shop on the Quay is an institution, established in 1923. Take your food outside and enjoy it next to the harbour, smelling the silty air while you eat. 

A day in Wells is well-spent. This is the life!

Here is a selection of major events in Wells that happen annually. And there is even more to do down the road at Holkham Estate, and of course plenty of beautiful beaches to explore.

Events:

Wells Carnival - In July and August - dates for 2019 TBC

Poetry Wells - Every year in May with additional events in October.

Wells Christmas Tide - Date to be confirmed for 2018 (usually early December)

Paint out Wells (art competition with workshops and public exhibitions) - 15-17 Sept 2018

>>> Here you can read about our gorgeous beaches. We have selected a Top 5 for you to make it easier! Click here.

Article by Editor Lesley van Dijk and Sarah Tribe

(Icon image of Wells beach huts at sunset on Top 5 things to do page is by Chris Taylor. This page: beach hut images/ wall by Lesley van Dijk and others by named organisations)