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5 Do Wells Next The Sea and Pensthorpe

Sunday in North Norfolk - 18

We woke up to a bright sunny day and Wells next the Sea calling to us, if you like you can find out what we did in our first day in Norfolk here. A day ahead off us that promised beach huts, more sand stretching as far as the eye can see, boats, seaside rock, followed in the afternoon by one of the UK’s most innovative play areas, red squirrels, flamingos and all sorts of amazing wildlife at Pensthorpe, the nature reserve where Springwatch has been filmed. To be honest either Wells or Pensthorpe would make a full day out, but it is possible to fit in both too!

Sunday in North Norfolk - 01

After a hearty veggie-for-me breakfast at The Crown, and whatever bits and pieces of cooked and continental breakfast the others wanted, oh and tea in cups like my Gran used to have, we bid this amazing family and dog friendly hotel goodbye. I reckon it is definitely au revoir though, you will see us again soon enough – I can’t believe how rested and recharged we felt after one night.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 03

Sunday in North Norfolk - 02

The lovely thing about the crown, is it has plenty of space, for dogs and children to let off some steam on the green. After a play on the green, we decided to wander into Wells, the harbour is about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Can never get them all smiling together, 2/4 isn’t bad!

Sunday in North Norfolk - 14

The beach is a walk out from the harbour, about another half an hour with kids. With hindsight we would have parked at the beach car park instead, although we really loved the harbour walk too. There is a stretch of lovely pine forest before you get to the sandy beach, which is a real treat to behold! There is a little train you can catch too.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 13

G met another fabulous greyhound on the beach who loved chasing sticks and digging holes. We are still building up our confidence with allowing Max, our greyhound off the lead, in unenclosed spaces – ex racing greyhounds are trained to run and to chase, they can reach 46mph, so you have to be completely confident they won’t just keep going and get lost, or knock people flying. When he is in racing mode, mentally and physically he is somewhere else completely. Max loves to play with tennis balls, and he doesn’t dig up the garden, I know which I prefer, but try convincing a 6 year old of this – he very nearly negotiated a dog swap with the owners, who had a great sense of humour, thank goodness!

Sunday in North Norfolk - 08

I could look at beach huts all day, and had really been looking forward to snapping them, but sometimes, your family need you, your camera battery dies unexpectedly and you have to snap some phone pics instead. Plus it was still a bit grey. Gorgeous huts though aren’t they? The locals were telling us what a shame it is they are so often empty, they get passed down the generations, but people nowadays are often too busy to spend much time in them.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 07 Sunday in North Norfolk - 06 Sunday in North Norfolk - 05

We stopped at Wells Beach Cafe for refreshment, of the canine and human kind. How impressive is this? Wells really is a perfect place to be a dog!

Sunday in North Norfolk - 04


Our afternoon was spent at Pensthorpe, the kids faces when we drove in were brilliant. They could not believe the sight of Wild Rootz, the outdoor play area. Pensthorpe was the only bit of our weekend where dogs aren’t allowed in, but Max was worn out from our walk and very content to doze in the car.

We spent ages chasing each other around, under, through and over this wooden maze like structure.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 18

I got the fear at the top of this slide, what an idiot, but you can see me going down the middle one in the video, the staff remind you it is built for grown ups too, which is brilliant.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 17

The wholeWild Rootz play area is themed around encouraging children’s love of nature, if we don’t encourage them, who will look after it in the future? I loved the way the animals Pensthorpe works to protect, were hiding in the sand pit.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 21

And beautiful playful sculptures which make playing about nature and not just equipment. Littler ones can roll or walk along this grass caterpillar, or climb through tunnels under mounds of grass like a telly tubby land.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 19

The staff at Pensthorpe are brilliant, absolutely go out of their way to take time to talk about what they are doing. We saw Luke three times during our visit. When G wanted to know what he was digging, he took a break to explain why he was cleaning out the pond. When we saw him by the red squirrel enclosure he told us all about Pensthorpe’s successes with reintroducing them into the wild in Anglesey, one of the squirrels has had 50 babies! Luke even tracked us down as he wanted us to see a hedgehog who lives on the site.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 23

Luke gave us such a lovely welcome, I feel bad he got cropped out in favour of the hedgehog! But look, what a sweetie!

Sunday in North Norfolk - 22

When L was a baby we came to Norfolk for a week with my parents, and I vividly remember watching barn owls together from a hide near Holkham beach. It was the most amazing thing and a day I will never forget. I will always associate barn owls with North Norfolk, so it was amazing to spend a few moments next to one.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 20

The Red Squirrel enclosure is amazing,  after talking to Luke I am now really keen to see them in the wild.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 16

Red squirrels really are pretty, like they just stepped out of a Beatrix Potter book. I just wanted to stroke that gorgeous red fur!

Saturday in North Norfolk Pensthorpe and Wells upon the sea - 4


The Wensum Discovery Tour, on a trailer pulled by a land rover, was perfect for us, as by mid afternoon we were getting tired. So we snuggled up together under coats and listened as the ranger took us on a tour of the reserve and pointed out loads of really interesting things, like deer hiding in the trees, the place where the otters play, the bat boxes, the Kestrel’s nest, the owls box, the badger’s home, the hare’s hang out. It really was like being in a Beatrix Potter book now, even if we didn’t see all the wildlife, you could really imagine how much wildlife  was hiding our there and calls the reserve home. We ticked off a huge amount of wildlife on our list and the kids were really pleased to get a prize for taking part.


Sunday in North Norfolk - 24

We took a walk through the wildlife garden, and it was really incredible to come so close to some of the seabirds, some of which we had seen on our walk the day before. I have the patience for bird watching, but the rest of my family don’t yet, so being able to get this close is wonderfully inspiring for kids.

Saturday in North Norfolk Pensthorpe plus Wells upon the sea - 6

The Wildlife Habitat garden was the perfect place to start conversations about helping build habitats for animals, and to get ideas for our own garden.

Saturday in North Norfolk Pensthorpe plus Wells upon the sea - 4 Saturday in North Norfolk Pensthorpe plus Wells upon the sea - 3

To finish our perfect day we had a pre booked afternoon tea in the cafe. It must have been all the fresh air, but we absolutely found room for it all! The kids looked on in amazement as a platter of sandwiches, a stunning slate of cakes and a cake stand of scones appeared.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 25

Followed by steaming cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 27

It was the perfect finish to an outstanding weekend.

Sunday in North Norfolk - 26

Don’t just take my word for it, see it all in glorious technicolour here. The video captures the fun we had and the extent to which we all bonded, so much better than words and pictures. It was everything you could hope of, and more from a family weekend. Nobody felt like they had had to compromise, or do stuff they didn’t enjoy for the sake of keeping the peace. It was everyone’s perfect weekend, kids, dog, parents. We talked, we laughed, we all enjoyed each other’s company and we made some great plans for the future.

Check out the post before this here.

We stayed at The Crown, Wells Next the Sea

We visited Pensthorpe

For more great ideas of what to do in Norfolk, check out Visit North Norfolk

Mr A and G wear tops from local company Gone Crabbing, not far from The Jolly Sailor pub I mentioned in my post about Day 1.



  1. 31/03/2015 / 5:21 pm

    That looks so amazing. I have never been to Norfolk, so I will add that to my list. It is always good to know family friendly hotels too as they can be hard to find

    • parentshaped
      31/03/2015 / 9:18 pm

      Def thought of you, after reading your post about hotels for families of 5. The bunk room also had a spare bed, so could work well for fives, would even be room for an extra camp bed or travel cot!

  2. Becky
    01/04/2015 / 10:45 am

    Lovely Penny..how I would love a beach hut.

    • parentshaped
      01/04/2015 / 10:54 am

      Sigh, me too B!

  3. 01/04/2015 / 10:48 am

    What an awesome break Penny! The kids look so happy – and Kitty would scream and implode with joy if someone put those cakes down by her so I can imagine how much your two enjoyed that bit. It’s the little special touches that stick in the mind isn’t it?
    We have beach huts by us but they are owned by a mixture of the elderly and those with a lot of money – a bit of a battered one sold for £50k recently so my dreams of owning a beach hut are a long way away at the moment!
    Off to watch your video x

    • parentshaped
      01/04/2015 / 10:56 am

      Yes, the cakes blew their mind, plus we literally sat down and it all appeared, without ordering as it was pre booked, G couldn’t believe it was all for us. It would be great to see huts for all the community wouldn’t it, or for hire, although if I had one I would spend hours making it perfect and not want to give it up.

  4. 01/04/2015 / 12:55 pm

    We love Norfolk and whilst we’ve been to Pensthorpe before we’re long overdue another visit as we only had LMC with us at the time and she was tiny. We’re not so familiar with Wells though so looking forward to exploring there when we’re up again in May half term. I do love a nice beach and also have a picture of a row of painted beach huts in my bathroom as I love them so much.

    • parentshaped
      01/04/2015 / 3:24 pm

      I hadn’t been to Wells properly before, and still lots we could have explored! Enjoy your trip!

  5. 01/04/2015 / 1:13 pm

    That looks like a lovely family holiday. The beach looks amazing. definitely somewhere I’d consider visiting after reading your blog post.

    • parentshaped
      01/04/2015 / 3:26 pm

      I wish we had had more time to spend there, def need a week next time!

  6. 01/04/2015 / 1:26 pm

    I absolutely love the sound of that hotel, it sounds too good to be true! What a gorgeous part of the world as well! Beautiful photographs as ever Penny, and that hot chocolate… 🙂

    • parentshaped
      01/04/2015 / 3:26 pm

      Thanks Emma, I know, just what we needed after our trailer tour!

  7. 01/04/2015 / 4:24 pm

    Oh I would so love a beach hut. Looks like a non-stop action packed day. I bet the kids slept like logs!

  8. 01/04/2015 / 7:29 pm

    What a fascinating place to visit and those beach huts are just beautiful.

  9. 01/04/2015 / 8:43 pm

    How lovely – what a great day out.

I'd love to know your thoughts!