Seaside towns don’t come much quainter than Wells-next-the-Sea, with its colourful beach huts and bustling quayside – perfect for crabbing.

There’s a handful of small seaside towns in England that have a certain something – an enduring charm that defies the end-of-the-line bleakness of some coastal towns. Wells-next-the-Sea is definitely one of them. It remains a working fishing port, and you’ll find yourself absorbed by the constant activity of the quay, where boats unload the day’s catch, gulls circle and families gather for a much-loved local pastime. Crabbing is known as gillying here; crabs are Norfolk Gillies and the hut that provides nets, line and bait is, naturally, the Gilly Hut. Nothing says Wells like an hour or two of gillying, followed perhaps by a fish and chip lunch (there are two tempting chippies on the quay) before a quick hop on the 10 ¼” gauge railway to the beach – which happens to hold the world record for the narrowest gauge railway operating a scheduled passenger service.

Undoubtedly up there among the best beaches in Norfolk – some would say in all of England – Wells beach is a vast stretch of soft, golden sand made for sandcastles or kite-flying with the kids. It’s also backed by a row of photogenic beach huts on stilts (you’ll love the names) and a swathe of fragrant Corsican pine trees. Back in town, check out Wells Maltings on Staithe Street, an eye-catching, copper-clad contemporary arts centre, proving that quaint and culture can co-exist at the seaside.


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