Last summer we visited the seaside town of Wells-Next-the-Sea in north Norfolk. It is a very attractive little town with plenty of narrow, winding lanes, pretty cottages, interesting shops and a lovely wide green surrounded by elegant Georgian houses. The place is very dear to me as I spent many holidays here as a girl. It gets very crowded nowadays during the high-season and there is nowhere to park if you arrive after mid-morning.
Unfortunately, we set off rather late and stopped in Fakenham on the way to have lunch.
Wells has a harbour but the beach is a mile away from the town and is reached by a narrow road and paths. There is a high bank next to the road which was built about 150 years ago to consolidate the channel that connects the sea to the harbour and also, I presume, to act as a sea defence. The paths are on the sea-wall. During the summer months there is also a narrow-gauge railway that shuttles holiday-makers to and from the beach.
We decided to forego the delights of the town and so drove along the road to the beach car-park at Pinewoods. We found nowhere to park (of course!) so left Alice and Elinor there with our belongings and drove back to the town where there was an overflow car-park next to the playing field. We thought we might return to the beach on the little train but we had just missed one and there was a long wait for the next. We walked along the sea wall in the strong sunshine. It was very warm work.
We found the girls and shared out the bags and chairs and started to walk through the pine woods to the beach. I remember playing in these woods with my brother and sister over forty years ago when it was wilder and there were fewer designated paths through the dunes. Red squirrels were still to be found there in the early 70’s but they were under great threat and had died out by the mid 1970’s I believe. Sadly, I never saw a live red squirrel only a dead one. At intervals along the path there are steep slopes and steps up to the top of the dunes from where you suddenly see miles of sandy beach and the sea in the distance.
We walked some way across the sand in the direction of the sea. The tide goes out for miles here but when it turns, it rolls in very quickly and many people get stranded on sandbanks every year by not heeding the tide and not listening out for the warning siren.
As seems to be what happens to us whenever we visit this beach, no sooner had we settled ourselves on the sand when the wind picked up and large clouds appeared. I was glad of my hat and coat.
People began to make their way back towards the woods.
The visibility was getting worse.
It began raining just as we reached the woods and rained very heavily while we walked under the trees. It stopped eventually and we walked back along the sea wall to the car.