Regular readers will know I am an ocean lover. Like many people I have an affinity with the sea. Being on the coast just makes me feel more at peace with myself and with the world. Without sounding too cliched, I feel more connected with the world around me when I am by the sea.
The beach and the coastline are such wonderful places to take children on adventures. Digging in the sand, building forts and channels, collecting sticks and shells, spotting boats and wildlife… There’s always so many things to do together as a family by the sea. A trip to the sea is a great way to get children excited about nature and think about the world around them. Everyone gets some fresh sea air – and it’s mostly free!
We have so many family memories of our days by the sea back in San Francisco – and now the new family memories we are building here in the UK. I’ve decided to start adding monthly blog posts of our trips to the sea. This is a good motivation for me to plan some lovely coastal visits for our family. Most importantly I hope I’ll inspire you to get out and explore our wonderful ocean and coastline, both here and abroad – wherever you are!
First up is a recent visit to Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk.
A Visit to Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk
We are lucky enough to be not too far from the beautiful Norfolk coastline. We have visited Wells-Next-The-Sea a couple of times now and just love it.
Wells-Next-The-Sea has everything you could want out of a trip to the seaside. A stunning sandy beach, sand dunes, beautiful natural areas, wildlife, boats, colourful beach huts – and the classic British fish and chips! What more could you want?!
We last visited Wells just over a week ago and it was a beautiful sunny day – quite mild for the time of year. We had a fantastic time!
Here are some of the highlights of our visit and a few tips in case you decide to visit…
The harbour side is a lovely spot to sit and watch the boats, do a spot of crabbing, or grab some fish and chips! If you’re lucky you can nab a parking space in the car park right by the harbour, which is very convenient. There are other parking spots elsewhere, both in the town and at the beach.
We watched some kids crabbing at the harbour and Little M was very interested! We made a mental note to do that another time!
After that we walked along the path by the harbour to the beach. This is a decent walk – especially with little ones. It’s about a mile. Little M managed fine, but LP got tired and had to be carried – we would take the buggy next time! My two insisted on walking on the top path, which had lots of lovely mud and puddles! Well that’s what waterproofs are for isn’t it…?! 😉 Don’t worry there is a lower tarmac path – if you’d rather keep your feet dry in wet weather!
In the warmer months there is a little train that runs parallel to the harbour path. Now that would be a fantastic way to travel to the beach! It’s open Easter-October. I can’t wait to try it out another time!
Oh the beach, the beach!! Miles and miles of golden sand! The beach at Wells-Next-The-Sea stretches for miles all the way from Wells to Holkham – the famous beach where Gwyneth Paltrow walked along the sand in the movie ‘Shakespeare in Love‘. The beach is lined with beautiful pine trees, which are all part of the Holkham Natural Nature Reserve. This gives the beach a very secluded feel, despite it’s vastness.
When the tide is out the beach stretches out forever before it meets the ocean. On our last visit the tide was in and it was lovely to see the waves lapping at our feet – or in LP’s case, starting to inch up her body!
Our two were so happy digging in the sand, looking for shells and running up and down the sand dunes.
I always feel like the beach is one of those places where time seems to stand still. It’s so easy to just ‘be’. I imagine in the summer you could while away hours, days or weeks at Wells beach. Clearly many do – the colourful beach huts stretching along the beach showed us a glimpse of how busy the beach must be in the summer. (Although the beach is SO big, I’m sure you’d be able to find your own little spot.) The children enjoyed gazing at the ‘little houses’ and deciding which was their favourite (if only!)
There’s a very convenient car park right at the beach. So if you’d rather avoid the walk from the town, you can just park right at the beach! I think we’d definitely do this another time – especially when the weather’s warmer, so we can get straight to the beach. There’s also a convenient cafe and toilet block there, as well as a caravan park and a campsite. We’d love to camp for a weekend in the summer.
It’s lovely that all the facilities are so close, but the beach itself benefits from the sand dunes and pine trees that hide it away from the outside world. From the beach car park you walk through the pine trees and up some wooden steps. It’s a very magical and a spectacular view of the beach when you get to the top!
We were lucky enough to see seals on our visit to the beach! This made my day! I’ve always had a bit of thing for seal spotting… We saw seals both on the beach and swimming close to the shore.
You can often see seals at Wells-Next-The-Sea or the surrounding areas, as there is a large colony of seals not too far away at Blakeney Point. There is a National Trust Nature Reserve there and you can take boat trips year round to see the seals there. I’m desperate to take a boat trip now! If you do see seals on the beach be sure to keep a safe distance away and remind children that they are wild animals. I’ve been reading this article on where to see seals in Norfolk to get some more tips for next time!
Wells-Next-The-Sea – the harbour, beach and nature reserve is a haven for many other types of wildlife too. We were lucky enough to see a flock of geese fly over head as we walked back from the beach. We also spotted a couple of oyster catchers in the shallow water of the harbour. There’s many other birds you can spot at Wells. You can read more at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust about the other birds and wildlife you can spot. So pack your binoculars if you have some!
The Nature Reserve
After wiling away time at the beach, we decided to walk along the beach a little way and then back through the pine trees. We saw just a portion of the wonderful nature reserve that lines the beach at Wells-Next-The-Sea. It was lovely to be in a place where you can see golden sand and dunes through the forest! It really reminded me of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco – that magical place where the forest meets the beach.
After a really fun time at the beach and the pines, we headed back to the town for some well deserved fish and chips – we really recommend French’s on the quay. The kids both fell fast asleep on the way home and slept like rocks after we carried them into their beds – a sign of plenty of sea air and a day well spent!
Wells-Next-The-Sea is a wonderful place to visit for a day trip, or a longer stay. We will definitely be back!
Have you visited Wells-Next-The-Sea? Any other tips to add? Or are you planning a visit?