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Wells next the Sea

A lovely town on the North Norfolk Coast, but due to silting, it is nearly a mile from open water.

An Introduction to Wells next the Sea

Beach Huts
Mud Channel
Wells Harbour
Wells Harbour Railway

Despite its name, Wells next the sea is situated a good mile or so from open water. Like many places along this stretch of the North Norfolk Coast, silting has limited access to the sea, but back in Tudor times, Wells was one of the great ports of eastern England. It’s still one of the most attractive towns on the North Norfolk coast, and the only one to remain a commercially viable port. It features many narrow lanes nicely sheltered from the offshore winds and makes a very good base for exploring the surrounding coastline. The town divides into three distinct areas, starting with Buttlands, a broad rectangular green, lined with lime trees and some very fine Georgian houses. Next are the narrow lanes of the town centre with Staithe Street having some interesting shops for browsing. At the bottom end of Staithe Street stands the quay and harbour, with a rash of amusement arcades. The harbour itself is lined with boats with the landmark Granary marking the mid-point. Apparently, the name of Wells comes from from the old word 'welles' meaning a clear spring of water, which Wells used to have many. Wells next the Sea has many attractions and facilities including 2 steam railways, hotels, pubs, tea rooms and countless shops. Wells has recently been made famous by the ITV drama Kingdom, where it makes up one half of a fictitious Norfolk town called Market Shipborough (the other half being Swaffham).
Local Websites

Hoseasons Cottages

Wells next the Sea Map

Wells next the sea Map Holkham Blakeney Walsingham

Wells next the Sea Guided Picture Tour

We start our tour of Wells next the Sea by parking the car - not easy on a busy Bank Holiday! The large car park by the beach has loads of space and plenty of facilities. The nearby sandy beach is backed by woods and has some colourful beach huts.
Beach Car Park
Wells beach carpark
Wells Beach Huts
Beach huts at Wells next the sea
The walk into the town centre (about one mile) is along a raised pathway, giving fine views over the channel into Wells harbour and the salt marshes beyond.
Coast Path
Wells footpath from the town to the beach
Coast Path
Walking into Wells town centre
The alternative to walking, is to ride the Wells Harbour Railway (WHR). Steam and diesel trains operate on 10¼” gauge track, transporting passengers the mile from the beach to the town centre. This service operates from mid-March to mid-October.
Wells Harbour Railway
Wells Harbour Railway WHR
Wells Harbour Railway
Narrow gauge steam railway train at Wells

The WHR station near the coast is adjacent to Pinewoods Holiday Park.
The WHR station near town is close to a golf pitch and putt.
Pinewoods Holiday Park in Wells
Pitch and Putt
Wells next the sea Golf Course

Boats of all shapes and sizes are moored in the channel, with access via tender when the water is deep enough!
Wells Boats
Stranded boats at low water
Wells Boats
Take a tender to your boat at high water

The channel provides access to Wells harbour and quay. Moored in the harbour is the Albatros, one of the oldest sailing ships still afloat. This beautiful ship was built in Rotterdam in 1899 and used as a cargo ship, exporting grain from Denmark to Sweden and even assisted Jewish refugees with their escape from Nazi Germany during WW2. In 1983 Tonn Brouwer purchased the ship and she was used to carry Soya beans from Belgium to Wells next the sea for a Norfolk agricultural merchant. The Albatross then served Greenpeace as an environmental study centre for schoolchildren, before becoming a tourist attraction and used for private charter.
The Albatros moored in Wells harbour
Albatros Decks
The Decks of the Dutch Clipper Albatros
Wells Harbour Office
Wells Harbour Office adjacent to the quay
Wells Harbour
Wells next the sea Harbour
Wells Quay
Wells next the sea Harbour
Wells Pontoons
Pontoons for the mooring of visiting boats at Wells
At the mid-point of the quay, is the famous landmark of Wells, a large granary with loading gantry, which was built around 1905. The granary has now been turned into luxury flats, the majority with magnificent views. The quay is still used by fishing boats that you can see unloading their catch, including inshore crab, whelk, sea trout and bass.
Wells Granary
The Granary in Wells next the sea
Wells Granary
The Granary in Wells next the sea
Harbour Chandlery
A boat chandlers overlooking the harbour in Wells
Boat on Mud
Yacht marooned on the mud at low tide
A creek from the harbour at Wells
Wells Harbour
Boats pulled up onto the mud at Wells

Most of the road along the quay is lined with amusement arcades and chip shops, however the People Tree is different, selling musical instruments, soft furnishings, furniture and other items from around the world.
People Tree
People Tree shop Wells next the sea
People Tree
Musical instruments from around the world

Moving up into the town, Staithe Street runs up from the quay and is the main shopping street in Wells. It has all kinds of shops, selling all kinds of goods - some of the shops have really inventive names - its a great place to just wander and browse, but it does get really busy during peak season.
Staithe Street
Staithe Street in Wells next the sea
Vintage Vera
Vintage Vera
Stockers Gallery
Stocker's Gallery
Nobby for Value
Nobby's for Value
Neverending Stories
Neverending Stories
Dolls 4 You
Dolls 4 You
Flower Pot Men
Flower pot men
Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers

Wells town centre has pretty streets, with plenty of facilities, including banks, pubs, cafes, and cottages for hire.
Wells High Street
High Street Wells next the Sea
Edinburgh Inn
The Edinburgh Inn
Wells Cottages
Seaside Cottages in Wells next the Sea
Mermaid's Purse
Mermaids Purse cafe and gift shop

At the top of Staithe Street is the grassy rectangle of Buttlands - where the locals used to practice their archery! Around the edge of the square you will find some lovely Georgian property. In two corners you will find classy inns, offering drinks, bar food and a room for the night - The Globe - and The Crown (a former coaching inn). Various events are held in the square during the year, such as Morris Dancing in May.
The Globe Inn
The Globe Inn Wells next the sea
The Crown Hotel
The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea
Georgian Property
Buttlands Georgian property Wells next the sea
Glencoe House
Wells Cottage
Crown House
Crown House
Morris Dancing
Morris dancers in May at Wells next the sea

The parish church of St. Nicholas is located on the outskirts of Wells. This large church is almost entirely Victorian, its medieval predecessor was destroyed in a fire in 1879.
Wells Church
Wells next the sea parish church of St. Nicholas
Wells Church Sign
St. Nicholas Church Sign
Detailed Stonework
Detailed stonework at the church Wells next the sea
Inside Wells Church
Inside the church Wells next the sea

On the outskirts of Wells is the village sign, which depicts a typical local scene consisting of a fishing boat and a coastline backed by pine trees.
Wells Sign
Wells Next the Sea Village Sign
Wells Village Sign
Close up of the village Sign

Also on the road out of Wells is the Big Sky gallery, which sells all kinds of different art &craft items that have been made in Norfolk. It is well worth a look on your way out of Wells.
Big Blue Sky
big blue sky gallery near Wells next the sea
Norfolk Wood Sculpture
Beach sculpture artwork in the big blue sky shop

Close to the Big Blue Sky on the outskirts of Wells is the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, which takes visitors on a 4 mile train ride from Wells to Walsingham. The railway was one man's passionate dream, hard work and sheer determination - Lt. Cmdr. Roy Francis. In 1979 he started to construct the WWLR on the 4 miles of old Great Eastern track bed from Wells to Walsingham. Work was completed in 1982 and on 6th April services began on schedule making it the longest 10¼" narrow gauge steam railway in the world. In 1987 a new unique 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 Garratt locomotive "Norfolk Hero" came into service and has a seating capacity of 76. See the WWLR website for running times.
Wells Walsingham Railway
Train on the Wells Walsingham Light Railway
Steam Train
Narrow gauge steam train on the WWLR
Norfolk Hero
Norfolk Hero at Walsingham Station
Norfolk Hero
Norfolk Hero Steam Train


Wells next the Sea summary of what to SEE and DO

Ride into town on the Wells Harbour Railway
Wander the streets and browse the many shops
Watch the boats along the quay in the harbour
Take a boat trip to see the seals on the sandbanks
Walk to the lovely sandy beach
Take a steam train ride to Walsingham
Enjoy a pub lunch or afternoon cream tea

Our Verdict

Wells is a great place for a family holiday or break; It has it all, with a great beach, good shops and attractions including a steam train ride to nearby Walsingham.
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My Day Out
Wells Harbour Railway
Wells Walsingham Light Railway


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This is a good and comprehensive Norfolk guidebook
This is a great book of Norfolk Trivia!
The best paper map for North Norfolk Coast walkers
If you like circular walks to a pub, this is the book for you!


Great website. I am visiting Wells in the summer and this is the best website I have visited by far. My kids are really looking forward to their holidays now, Thank You. Hotels
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