For those seeking a seaside getaway it doesn't get more traditional than the idyllic seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea on the beautiful North Norfolk coast. Bursting with character, great sea food, ice cream parlours, amusement arcades and, of course, the stunning scenery, it's little wonder that Wells-Next-The-Sea commands a sizeable amount of visitors throughout the year, attracting over 10,000 holidaymakers during the peak summer season.
Wells was originally named after the many clear springs that could be found rising through the chalk in the local area, but was renamed Wells-Next-The-Sea in the early 19th century to differentiate it from other county towns of the same name. For modern times this is somewhat of a misbranding; an epithet of Wells-Near-The-Sea might be more appropriate given that the distance to open water from the town is over a mile away. This doesn't dissuade tourists however, as the Beach Road (and miniature steam train which runs parallel to it) provide quick access to the beach.
The outstanding sandy beach is the main lure of Wells. The magnificent pine forest that borders the beach, with its undulating terrain, wild flowers and wildlife, is also great fun for kids who are attracted by rope swings and macro games of hide and seek. The sand dunes, a fraction of their former size, are still a popular place to set up a windbreak and have a picnic, whilst tourists can expect to see holiday makers travelling back and forth between colourful and beach huts and the sea.
The wide expanse of golden beach stretches for miles towards neighbouring Holkham, making it perfect for leisurely walks. First time visitors to the beach may find it strangely familiar, which is a probable consequence of the location's frequent adoption in television, film and music videos. This stretch of coast featured at the conclusion of Shakespeare in Love and was a setting for the “Pure Shores” video by All Saints.
Twitchers are also drawn to the area, which is located between the bird reserves of Cley and Titchwell, attracting an abundance of avian life to its salt marshes and pine forests throughout the year.
Within Wells itself, the fishing Quay is the most iconic attraction and has provided artistic inspiration for centuries of painters. The distinctive granary which overhangs the Quay Road has been transformed into luxury apartments with beautiful vistas of Wells harbour.
Though Wells-Next-The-Sea no longer possesses the ship builders, granaries and maltings of once historically strong industries, the town is scattered with reminders of its fascinating past. Wells also pays tribute to the work of its lifeboat crews (which still operate from the beach) with a memorial that can be found by the Harbour Offices, where the crew who have been lost to the sea are remembered every year by town residents.
It is worth wandering through Wells' delightful network of narrow streets, old alleys and hidden yards which boasts former coaching inns, public houses and a fantastic array of local independent shops, selling everything from seaside equipment to rare books and fine art, from designer clothing to high end gifts.
Those visiting during the Summer may be fortunate to experience Wells Carnival Week, a great event for family The Carnival sees the town injected with a party atmosphere, hosting various live music, competitions, BBQs, workshops, and a disco, culminating in a Carnival procession which winds its way around the town.
If you are wishing to stay in the town or stay in North Norfolk for an extended period, perhaps on holiday with a partner or with family, Hotels in Wells-Next-The-Sea are a particularly popular accommodation choice. The Crown Hotel is one of the most reputable of the Wells-Next-The-Sea Hotels, offering light, airy and thoughtfully refurbished rooms. Self-Catering Accommodation options are also very attractive.
Its location in the centre of the North Norfolk Coast makes Wells-Next-The-Sea a super place from which to branch out and explore the villages and town along the coastline and beyond. The stately home at Holkham and the ancient pilgrimage site of Little Walsingham are about 5 minutes drive away. At 15 minutes drive and 20 miles away respectively, visiting the seals at Blakeney Point and the royal residences at Sandringham are also very manageable.