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Between the epic expanse of sand of the world-renowned Holkham Beach and the precious bird sanctuary of Blakeney Point, lies the harbour town of Wells-next-the-Sea.

Named (and recognised in the Domesday Book) for the fresh springs that once percolated up through the glacial chalk of this stretch of coast, the town is actually a mile inland nestling behind a stalwart bank of pines and an expanse of saltmarsh reclaimed for agriculture by the Holkham Estate in the 1800s. Not far from the town, is the beach. After a short walk through the pinewoods, there is a lively array of stilted beach huts. You can reach the beach from the town via an electric bus shuttle service operated by Holkham. There is also a visitor car park and cafe by the beach.

The harbour at Wells is overlooked by an imposing granary (dating from 1904), with its gantry stretching across the street to the quay. From the harbour, narrow lanes with chic shops, eateries and art galleries lead towards the Buttlands, a large town green surrounded by majestic lime trees and elegant Georgian houses, whose name suggests it may have been used for archery practice in the Middle Ages.

Early in the 19th Century, the town of Wells was officially renamed "Wells-next-the-Sea" to distinguish it from other Wellses - a name that had to be re-adopted in 1956, because it had become known more by the name on the signs at the railway station: "Wells-on-Sea".

Another narrow-gauge railway, the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway, uses part of the old Norwich line track bed on its way to the picturesque shrine village of Walsingham.

This part of North Norfolk forms part of the largest coastal nature reserve in England and Wales, and Wells-next-the-Sea - and indeed the whole of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - is a haven for twitchers. Bitterns and terns, oyster catchers, avocets and marsh harriers are among the species which make this part of North Norfolk a prime site for birdwatching.

Just a few miles along the coast is the Palladian seat of the Earls of Leicester, Holkham Hall, with its 3000-acre deer park and Bygones Museum.


Map & Directions



Town Centre, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1DR

What's Nearby

  1. The original church was built in the thirteenth century next to the ancient harbour.

    0 miles away
  2. Arts, heritage and community at the heart of Wells-Next-The-Sea

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  3. Gallery Plus is a contemporary art business in Wells-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk…

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  4. Narrow Gauge Steam Railway, operating a timetable service between Wells and Walsingham.

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  1. The award-winning beach at Wells is a long sweeping sandy beach backed by dunes, pine…

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  2. Part of Holkham National Nature Reserve, Holkham Beach is the perfect place for enjoying…

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  3. Holkham is the most extensive, diverse and dramatic nature reserve on a coastline famous…

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  4. Explore acres of parkland with a stunning stately home, tranquil Walled Garden and…

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  5. In the Maritime Heritage Centre we tell the story of Dunkirk veteran local lifeboat, Lucy…

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  6. Guided Tours of Walsingham.

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  7. Walsingham Gallery & Framing - jewellery, art, gifts, ceramics, greetings cards, books,…

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  8. Contemporary baroque original paintings, reproductions and homewares.

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  9. Church of All Saints’ Waterden

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  10. The Shrine is an Anglican place of pilgrimage rebuilt in the 1930's following destruction…

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  11. Ruined Augustinian Priory, place of medieval and modern pilgrimage. Gardens, woodland,…

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