Beach huts at Wells-Next-The-Sea, which isn't exactly next to the sea.
We spent a couple of days in Norfolk, tooling around the beaches and the Broads. The beaches, which are on the North Sea, were too cold of course for any serious beach combing, but I did get some nice photos. We stopped in Wells-Next-The-Sea (named with the very British habit of dropping a vital preposition) to admire the beach huts. It was low-tide, so the surf was nowhere to be seen. We decided to trudge out a hundred yards or so to the dunes, planning to race back if the tide came in suddenly. But when we reached the top of the dunes, the tide was still far, far off—too distant to be seen. It was around 4 p.m., and high tide was scheduled for 8:10. Amazing to think that in four hours, the tide would come marching in so far!
The next day we went to the Norfolk Broads, a series of rivers and lakes that cover much of eastern Norfolk. The Broads are actually man-made lakes, but until the 1950s they were thought to be naturally occurring. However, when scientists finally got around to taking underwater photos, it was obvious the "lakes" had been cut by humans. Early Britons had cut blocks of peat from the boggy land, using it for fuel and selling it abroad, via the convenient rivers that wash out to the North Sea. Eventually, these peat quarries filled with water during the Middle Ages, creating the Broads. Little did they know they were creating another industry in Norfolk, one that caters to both tourists and waterfowl.
The waters of the Broads are home to many species of waterfowl, including the once endangered grebe. We were told to watch for kingfishers, but we missed seeing their bright blue plumage. Otters also live in the Broads, and rare swallowtail butterflies make their home in the marshes. Reeds, used for thatching cottages, grow abundantly in the Broads, a welcome addition from a conservation point of view, since their root systems help prevent soil erosion.
The best way to see the Broads is by boat. Our first stop was in Wroxham, where we took a 1.5 hour cruise from Broads Tours. At £7.50 per adult, it was a great bargain, and included an interesting commentary from the boat captain.
For a great overview of Norfolk, including helpful information for seeing the Broads, check out this website. I found it to be very well done, and accurate. We saw many of the sites listed, including the Ranworth Church, which offers the best view of the Broads from its tower.
Norfolk is about a three hour drive from London via the M11 and A11, which goes all the way to Norwich. If you go, be sure to pronounce it correctly: Norfolk is pronounced Nor—well, this is a family blog. I'll let you figure it out.For more photos, plus exciting commentary, go here.