Thing number 2 on my list is to visit five new (to me) seaside resorts. We've just come back from a week in Cromer (my most favouritest place on earth!) and while Cromer is most definitely not new to me, I did take the opportunity to visit somewhere that was – Wells-next-the-Sea.
Wells is about 25 miles from Cromer and is an interesting little place. The town itself is nothing special, just your average seaside town, though, it does have a cute little harbour which was packed with chilren fishing for crabs from the harbour wall. Also in the harbour is an old cargo ship called Albatros. The ship has a very interesting history. Among other things, it was used to take Jews from Denmark to Sweden during WWII, returning with weapons for the Danish army. It was used as a cargo ship right into the 1980s and then was commissioned by Greenpeace as an educational centre. Nowadays it is a rather lovely bar and restaurant, serving local real ales and Dutch pancakes on deck and in the hold. (You can find out more about the Albatros by clicking here.)
Wells-next-the-Sea is actually about a mile from the sea, and while you can park nearby, or take the little narrow gauge train to get there, we decided to walk down the road along the East Fleet river which runs between the sea and the harbour. It's a nice walk, well worth doing.
At the bottom we were all in need of a cuppa and a bit of cake and as it happens there was a rather nice beach cafe waiting for us.
Then we went up a slope, round a corner and across a wooden walkway onto the beach. I'd heard a lot about the beach huts at Wells and they really are quite a wonderful sight. They are mounted on stilts and you can probably tell how long they've been there by the height, as the older huts' stilts and steps have become partialy submerged in the soft white sand. I didn't realise Wells also had quite stunning sand dunes too. Wells is actually something of an estuary beach – at high tide the water fills the river and washes across the sand, leaving a long dune in the middle of the sea. We were there at low tide, however, and we couldn't see the sea as it was at least a mile away! So you have soft sand and huts on the left, a long stretch of wet sand with a dune in the middle of it, and then the river, about a metre deep, meandering its way out to sea. Apparently it's very easy to get caught out by the tide – people wade through the river to the flat sands on the other side, but when the tide turns it rushes in quickly – so there is a siren to warn people when the water is approaching.
The beach was very busy so we walked across to the dune, along the length of it and back across to the furthest beach hut so we could take some photos without people in them! It was a lovely place to walk and I can imagine it would be even more spectacular on a cold bright winter's day!
However, I found it a bit … unusual, I suppose. A bit of an odd place for a beach holiday. For me the beach means the sea as well as the sand, and at Wells the sea is so far away as to be absent. Swimming in the shallow river wouldn't have quite the same appeal!
So all in all, I'm glad we visited Wells-next-the-Sea – and I'd definitely go back for pancakes on The Albatros! – but I don't think I'd want to holiday there.