Normal for Norfolk, that’s me. Most school holidays the Cultural Wednesday family answer the siren call of the East. One of our favourite things is meeting up with friends for a spot of crabbing at Wells-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk coast.
How to go Crabbing at Wells next the Sea
No Norfolk childhood is complete without crabbing or gillying, as it is known locally. Does it happen elsewhere? I confess that beyond Suffolk I have never crabbed but friends tell me that Padstow and Mullion cove in Cornwall are also prime crabbing spots. Crabbing can done in all weathers, which is just as well as whilst the does shine a lot in Norfolk, rain is not unknown.
What do you equipment do you need for crabbing?
All you need is: a bucket of sea water (and it must be sea water as the crabs will die in tap water); a long piece of string with a weight on the end; a long-handled net; and of course some bait and the smellier the better. Fish heads or bacon are the traditional lures. Armed with your equipment you secure the bait onto the line either tie it on or wrap it in old tights. Fear not if you don’t have these the shops in Wells next the Sea are awash with crabbing kits. Throw the line over the harbour edge and wait. On a good day crabs will soon bite.
What to do with your crabs once they are caught?
Put them in your bucket of sea water. No more than 10 at a time. Keep an eye on them as sometimes they fight. If this happens separate them or even better put them back in the water, gently. It is important to keep on refreshing the water every 10 minutes or the crabs will die. When you have finished for the day make sure you put the crabs back and take all your equipment home with you.
Can you eat the crabs you catch?
Almost certainly not. Most will be very small. You might get lucky and catch an edible Cromer crab but most will be inedible Common Shore Crabs. Just a note, not all crabs caught in Cromer are Cromer Crabs, it is a type of crab not a location specific thing.
Plastic Free Crabbing Kit
Quite a lot of the lines and buckets on sale for crabbing are made of plastic. Kit made from wood, hemp and metal are kinder to the environment and available in some shops. It is worth taking a bit of time to find renewable, degradable crabbing kit to reduce the amount of single use plastic. When you have finished your day gillying keep the kit for next time or maybe repurpose the bucket for making sandcastles.
Where else can I go crabbing in Norfolk and Suffolk?
Wells next the Sea crabbing is not the only option. Other places that I have enjoyed a spot of gillying are Blakeney, Cromer pier, Titchwell, Brancaster Staithe, Burnham Overy Staithe and (slipping over the border into Suffolk) Walberswick.
What to do in Wells next the Sea
Wells next the Sea has much to offer. Round by the harbour there are many excellent places selling fish and chips. Walk up away from the harbour and you will find cute streets and shops selling all manner of stripy jumpers.
Wells beach is reckoned to be one of the best in Norfolk. That is saying something, the beaches in Norfolk are among the best in the world. It is a decent hike away from the harbour, you can catch a miniature train there if want. When you get there you will find beach huts on stilts and at low tide a huge expanse of sand that is perfect for beach cricket.
Where to stay in Wells next the Sea
We have stayed in Youth Hostel at Wells next the Sea. This is one of the smaller hostels that we have stayed in, it is entirely self catering but the kitchen is adequate and there are lots of places to eat in Wells. It does have en-suite family rooms. It was the perfect place for a short family break on the North Norfolk Coast without breaking the bank. My cousins speak highly of the Pinewoods the campsite which nestles behind the dunes of the beach. Pinewoods is also the place to hire one of the iconic Wells next the Sea beach huts.
Where to eat in Wells next the Sea
This depends on what kind of day you plan on having, what the weather is and who you are with. Over the years we have decided that the best fish and chips are from French’s on the Quayside and that if you want something a little more refined head to the Wells Crab House just on the corner of Quay. Both places do taekaways if you fancy eating al fresco.
Whilst you are in Norfolk why not take time for a some Seal Watching or find out about the fascinating history of Great Yarmouth at Time and Tide or explore the fine city of Norwich or discover amazing art at the Sainsbury Centre or see discover the home of the first British Prime Minister and fabulous Sculpture at Houghton Hall. Come with me and discover Norfolk places off the beaten track.