Pinewoods is located a mile from the harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea, and whether you stroll down on foot or catch the miniature steam railway, you can’t help but be struck by the calm and relaxed pace of life.
Days gone by
It wasn’t always this way; in the 19th century Wells was one of the Norfolk’s major ports. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see boats bringing in the catch of the day, while tourists go ‘gillying’ for crabs along the harbour walls.
Another reminder of days gone is the granary, once crucial to the town’s export trade, now one of Wells’ most photographed landmarks.
Back to nature
If natural history’s more your thing, there are plenty of other great photo opportunities here. The sheer variety of local birdlife brings birdwatchers back again and again, always on the lookout for rare species.
Wells is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, not to mention part of Holkham National Nature Reserve, so it’s not hard to see why the birds return year upon year too.
At low tide, explore the pools for marooned crustaceans and other aquatic life – they are the perfect captive subject for a close-up shot!
What’s in Wells?
Start your journey at central Staithe Street and head out through the labyrinthine yards and alleys, a spider’s web of traditional fisherman’s cottages and other quaint buildings, many of which are now boutique shops.
Don’t miss your chance to try the local produce; Wells is famous for freshly caught shellfish but, if you prefer yours ‘to-go’, stroll along the harbour with a delicious portion of fish and chips (watch out for hungry seagulls!).
If a particular street looks familiar, it might be thanks to the ITV drama, Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry. Wells provided the backdrop for the fictional town of Market Shipborough in the series.
The leafy square, The Buttlands, is well worth a visit to fully appreciate the grandeur of this once bustling port. The imposing Georgian houses hint at the riches that trade brought to Wells.
At the east end of Wells Beach is the lifeboat station – hugely important to the local community as strong tides can quickly cut off stretches of sand for several miles in both directions.
What is now the Harbour Office was previously the town’s lifeboat house, a large Victorian building that stands proudly at the waterside, perhaps worth a photo or two as well?
Finally, climb aboard The Albatros, a century-old Dutch clipper moored at Wells Quay and fully restored as a restaurant and live music venue. In its seafaring days the clipper was a cargo-carrier and also saw service for Greenpeace, now it’s an enduring reminder of this pretty town’s maritime heritage.
Out and about
Wells makes a fantastic base for a holiday because it’s within easy reach of some of the Norfolk’s best tourist attractions. Even if you don’t plan venturing far there’s plenty to see and do.
Make the short drive to Cromer or Hunstanton for a distinctly different seaside day out to quaint Wells – candyfloss anyone?
Or follow in the footsteps of royalty and visit Holkham Hall. A pleasant one hour stroll along the coast, you can explore inside this historic house or just lose yourself in the beautiful grounds, the choice is yours.