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Wells-Next-The-Sea: One of Norfolk's Best Beaches

Updated on October 7, 2013

In the East of England, on the tip of the North Norfolk Coast, sits the village of Wells-Next-the-Sea. It is, perhaps, our favourite place in Norfolk - many a time we have made the hours drive at the drop of a hat, with a picnic in a cooler bag and a couple of buckets for collecting things. Wells itself is nice enough, with some interesting little shops and its rows of colourful and quaint cottages. But it is the beach that we always head for.

The beach at Wells-Next-the-Sea is both beautiful and wildly rugged. Somewhat detached from the village itself (there is a rather long path leading to the beach), Wells beach is truly a place to enjoy the English outdoors at its best. The fresh air will fill your lungs and make you feel alive. The landscape is both invigorating and inspiring.  It is hard to beat, and definitely worth the trip.  

From the quayside at Wells, you can either take the pleasant stroll down the long beach path, or you can catch the little train. The train runs every hour at a small cost, until around four thirty. We have, ourselves, made the walk on more than one occasion - it is quite enjoyable and picturesque. Nowadays, however, we park in the carpark just before the beach. (This can be difficult on busy days if you don't arrive early, but there are overflow carparks further up). The road to the carpark runs alongside the path, down by the Pinewoods Holiday Park. It is definitely easier to park in the car park if you have children that hate walking, or a lot of stuff. In any case, the two go together, as any parent knows. I challenge anyone to deny otherwise, when heading out for the day with a couple of young-ish kids in tow!

The rope swing!
The rope swing!
A look-out tower
A look-out tower
Exploring in the woods
Exploring in the woods

Pinewoods and a Rope Swing

On one side of the beach path there are grassy fields and the holiday park. On the other side - the quayside - there are little boats bobbing about, sometimes marooned if the tide is low. At the end, just before the beach, there is also a fairly sheltered spot, almost like a mini beach. We have eaten our picnics there, while our children run about, too energised after being stuck in the car for an hour to be still.

Yet even from here, you cannot see the beach. It hides behind the pinewoods, like a secret waiting to be discovered. The pinewoods are wonderful and enjoyed by families with children, dog walkers and couples strollling. Woods are for adventures, and our oldest son's imagination has taken us on elaborate journeys through prehistoric times, with dinosaurs lurking through trees, to times of battle, where every hill or thick bush is a look-out. The woods are the perfect place for play of a bygone age. You'll smile at your children and remember all those Famous Five books you once read, now in a musty box in the attic or packed off to the charity shop. There are 'dens' to stumble upon - lots of them. There is a rope swing to let fly on - it has been there every time we've looked, attached so far up a lofty tree that each time we see it we wonder who on earth put it there. There are tree trunks to climb on and low branches to get a foot up. Then wander through a gap in the trees and bushes, where the light is bright and welcoming, and right before you is the vast expanse of the beach itself.

The vast sands at Wells
The vast sands at Wells
The little beach huts before the woods
The little beach huts before the woods
Little boy lost!
Little boy lost!

Wells Beach - Stunning and Untamed

The beach at Wells-Next-the-Sea is stunning and untamed. It gives you a feeling of freedom and space, a true blessing in a crowded world. At low tide, the beach goes as far as the eye can see, and then further still. In fact, as you set foot onto the sand, the sea itself is sometimes not even visible at all, except for the narrow channel that runs upwards from it. In high summer, children splash and play in the channel when it is there - come high tide and the channel is sucked back into the oozing swell of water that is the North Sea (it is important to be on the right side of the channel when the tide starts to flow; warning signs as you enter the beach explain this). The beach is monitored by lifeguards at high tide and it is perfectly safe as long as you follow the rules.

When the tide is out, myriad shallow pools remain. Children love them. They splash in them; discover tiny life in them; wade through them to get to the 'sand islands' created by them. You can find crabs, the odd jellyfish and shells in their thousands. Sometimes you can even see shoals of tiny fish. There is little better than seeing your children absorbed by the wonder of nature, without a penny being spent. In any case, there's not a lot to spend your money on - one shop selling gifts and snacks and an icecream van in the carpark - and that's if you can be bothered to trek all the way back there.

Rolling down the sand dunes
Rolling down the sand dunes
The channel, at low tide
The channel, at low tide

Adventures in the Sand Dunes

Perhaps the centre-piece for the beach is the sand dunes, standing like two little islands. My older son adores the sand dunes. They are one of the reasons why he loves Wells beach above others along the same coastline. The sand dunes are for everyone. Children hurtle down the gentle hills like little kamikazes. And it's the perfect location for hide-and-seek. What better place for children to hide, attempting to camouflage themselves as they duck down behind the mounds of strong grass, with sand in their shoes and the sea breeze whipping at their cheeks? Imagine cops and robbers; an escapee on the loose. They'll get plenty of good, old fashioned exercise, and bucketfuls of fresh air.

While the kids are running riot, parents sit with the picnic bag, enjoying a bit of well deserved, nag-free time. Couples seek seclusion, until they are stumbled upon by someone else's adventure. Kites soar, like Gods of the Sky - on a windy day there are plenty of them, proud and supreme against the skyline. Kite flying reaches new heights on Wells beach. I don't know if there is any better place - if there is, then we have yet to find it.

The Beautiful Landscape of Wells Beach
The Beautiful Landscape of Wells Beach

If you enjoy walking, you can walk a long way along the beach at Wells. Along the sands is Holkham, perhaps quieter but just as stunning. The landscape is the same, with the woods and the dunes, but the crowds certainly stick to Wells. Holkham is known as the location for the final scene in the film Shakespeare in Love. it is also said to be a favourite of the Queen, when she is in residence at nearby Sandringham.

Wells - a Place for Making Memories

When it is time to leave, your children won't want to go home. Wells is like a magnet. 'Let's stay a bit longer,' they'll say. 'Just find us one more time.' Every time we've been there, we've arrived home very late, and yet as we depart there are still people on the beach, some eating late picnics, or even tea cooked on disposable barbeques.

Wells beach is the perfect place for playing, walking, or just sitting and doing nothing. You can head there for day trips, and not only in the summer. It's a place for holidays; a place for making memories to look back on and remember in years to come - and there's not an electronic device in sight.

A lone duckling
A lone duckling

Staying at Wells

The nearest place to stay to the beach at Wells-Next-the-Sea is the Pinewoods Holiday Park. Personally, we haven't stayed there as we are only an hour's drive away. The Pinewoods Holiday Park is on the left as you make your way down to the beach, just before the car park. Behind Pinewoods is a river; the holiday park rents out canoes. Last week, when we went, there were ducklings on the river, dashing after their mother in the weak spring sunshine. Ducklings, reeds and still, tranquil water - 'just messing about on the river'. What better way to enjoy the peaceful Norfolk countryside. We'll definitely be giving it a go this summer!

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    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      4 years ago from UK

      @ sallybea - It's wonderful, isn't it? Just a beautiful place and old-fashioned, outdoorsy fun. Where do you live, are you close to Wells?

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk

      PollyC - One of the most beautiful places on the Norfolk Coast, definitely a favorite of mine and also for the many holiday makers who flock their each year. I love to see them enjoying themselves - crabbing off the wall and feeding their faces with ice-cream and fish and chips. Yes, definitely a must for any holiday maker visiting this area.

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      7 years ago from UK

      Hi Ryan - yes, I love the whole coastline really, so many lovely places. I particularly love the fact that you can get up and drive to the coast in half an hour, I think I would feel claustrophobic if I lived too far inland!

      Funny your nan had a chalet in Pakefield, as actually I am from Lowestoft (not sure that I actually want to admit to that in public, but oh well!!). We moved to Norwich nearly 14 years ago - Norwich is so much better, Lowestoft has no vibrance, especially not these days, though it does have a great beach. We go back there a lot, my parents still live there.

      Hope your pug is ok with the fireworks.

    • profile image

      ryankett 

      7 years ago

      I have, of course, been to Wells :) In fact, I have a hubpage about hotels near Wells too!

      Great place, a bit dodgy for those who aren't familiar with the tidal patterns, the coastguards certainly get a fair bit of action!

      So many great places around our coastline, we are lucky really. Sea Palling, Sheringham, Cromer, the list is endless. My personal favourite is Waxham, love the seclusion. Can't wait to take my pug to Waxham and let her off the lead, but for now she has Earlham Park!

      I like Lowestoft and the places around there (although that is Suffolk of course, just about), my nan used to have a chalet at Pakefield so I used to spend quite a bit of time down there

      Not too familiar with Holt, all I know about Holt is that there is plenty of money flying about there. Trigger from Only Fools and Horses being one of many rich or famous (or even rich and famous) residents.

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Joe, yes Salthouse is great too, in fact I love the whole coastline. I must admit I never go to Holt though, but I know quite a few people like that as well, though some of them are older people, 50/60 plus.

      Where did you camp? We like Kelling Heath, it's brilliant for families and a really beautiful area. We camp locally as we can't fit everyone plus all the stuff into the car until we upgrade it.

      Great to meet you here, anyway :)

    • Joe Badtoe profile image

      Joe Badtoe 

      8 years ago from UK

      Wells is indeed a lovely place with a great beach, but I prefer the continous solitude of Salthouse. Never busy and a lovely drive to it.

      Don't like Holt it's a snobby town full of its own importance. North Norfolk is wonderful apart from the road to get there!!

      Great hub.. we camped nr Holt in July this year.

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Christine, thankyou for reading and for your great comments. I'm glad it brought back memories of your childhood holidays - it amazes me when people post comments saying they have actually been to the places I have written about. I don't know why, perhaps it's because it is such a small and quiet corner of the world, I never expect it. Yes, write a hub on your childhood holidays - I would love to read it :)

    • profile image

      Christine h 

      8 years ago

      I love this blog brings back memories of my childhood holidays in Norfolk and the things that we used to do hey I think i will write a hubpage on that thanks

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi ss sneh! Thank you for stopping by and reading. Hope you make it one day! Thanks for your comments

    • ss sneh profile image

      ss sneh 

      8 years ago from the Incredible India!

      Hi!...Good info! I hope one day I will be able to visit this beautiful beach. Nice photos! --Thanks

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Nell - yes, it is great. Actually Wells has even been voted as the second best beach in England, by the Times. I think that was a couple of years ago. Thank you for your lovely comments :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, what a lovely beach, I had never even heard of it before, I love the way that the sea goes right out, leaving such a vast amount of space to run about on, finding shells and jumping in the pools. No wonder the kids love it, I love the way you describe the kite flying, you have a great way with words. thanks nell

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thank you GarnetBird, for dropping in and reading...actually beach huts can be pretty expensive - thousands of pounds sometimes, depending on where they are. They do look quaint though! :)

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 

      8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Enchanting! I especially loved the beach huts.

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Origin, yes it is lovely - if you ever visit I'll point you out the places to go....and make you a cup of tea/coffee, if you're lucky!! Thank you for reading :)

    • Origin profile image

      Origin 

      8 years ago from Minneapolis

      It looks like a great place to visit! Whenever I get the chance to visit there I'll be sure to stop by Norfolk. Thanks for a great hub!

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Ethel, thank you - I'm planning to do several more. Yes, I would love to join the Hubtrails...can you use a hub already written, like this one? I have my two year old at home with me every day still, which is why I don't have many hubs yet! Quite hard to find the time sometimes! Anyway, I'll check the forum, thanks once again :)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Beautiful Polly. Your Norfolk guides offer a wealth of information. How about joining the Hubtrails. Check out the forum.

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi habee, thank you, you are very welcome :)

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Wonderful hub. Thanks for the trip!

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Thai Women Advice! Thank you for reading and for your assurance that I could ride a motorcycle! I'm not too convinced - I did get a lift on the back of someone's many years ago and just hated the way it served round the corners...perhaps I could overcome that?

      Wow,it really is a coincidence that you used to live near Norwich - you said it, it really is a small world! What was the name of the village? Obviously one filled with old people...you should have lived in Norwich, much more fun!

    • Thai Women Advice profile image

      Thai Women Advice 

      8 years ago from THAILAND

      Hi Polly How Are you? If I can ride a motorcycle anyone can!!! It really is a small world up until around a year ago I lived in a small Town/Village in Norfolk some 20 miles from Norwich a place which I somewhat unkindly tend to refer to as deaths waiting room!!Loved your piece on Wells which is a lovely classy place!!!

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thank you prasetio, I'm very pleased you liked it and thank you for reading.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      That was beautiful beach. Thanks for share about this beach.

    • Polly C profile imageAUTHOR

      Polly C 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi scarytaff, thank you for your comment, I'm glad you liked it. Actually, you came to mind when I was writing it as I thought you might be the one person I've come across on hubpages to have been there!

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      8 years ago from South Wales

      Terrific hub, Polly. It brought back many memories of driving with the kids, up to Wells. Thanks for that.

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