Wells-next-the-Sea is a delightful old fishing port located along the north Norfolk coast. Its ancient harbour can be traced back to the 11th century when masted sailing boats once traded here from as far afield as Iceland.
The town became famous in the 18th-c for the export of prime malt. Large Maltings dominated the skyline here right up until the 1930s. The large granary on the quay (circa 1903) is now one of the few still remaining. Easily identifiable by its distinctive overhanging gantry, it has now been converted into luxury sea-view flats. High quality malt barley is still grown locally but is no longer shipped by sea.
The delightful little sheltered harbour is shared by pleasure boats, sailing yachts and fishermen, who regularly land lobster, crab and whelks. The local catch being sold fresh daily in stalls on the quayside. Harbour tours and fishing trips can be booked from the quay in summer.
Within the town you'll find a number of quaint fisherman's cottages and Georgian former merchant's houses that speak of the towns rich trading heritage. Along Staithe Street can be found a mix of traditional and family run shops providing all manner of wares, from buckets and spades to fishing gear. There is a diverse range of eateries, including traditional fish & chips, tea rooms, cafes and delicatessens. Many of the pubs also serve excellent local cuisine.
About a mile north of the town is a very fine stretch of sandy beach backed by pinewoods. Here you will find rows of colourful stilted beach huts and a lovely little beach cafe. The beach has good facilities, including a toilet block with shower and ample parking. Dogs are allowed on the sands all-year-round, subject to local restrictions. Although the beach is an easy walk from the town you can also hop on the Wells Harbour miniature railway, which runs from the harbour to the Pinewoods caravan park, during the holiday season.
The local coastline provides beautiful scenic walks, where common and grey seals can often be seen basking on the sand banks. The salt marches along the coast here are part of a huge nature reserve that provides the perfect habitat for avocets, bitterns, terns, oystercatchers, winter geese and marsh harriers.
On the outskirts of town is the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway, a seasonal narrow gauge line that runs for four miles inland to Walsingham. For more information visit our Norfolk Attractions page.