So, I had recently been to Norfolk for the very first time and was rather irritated with myself for that because it is an absolutely beautiful place that up until now I had completely missed out on. A Portsmouth local meant that my go to beach get away spots were in Cornwall. It had never occurred to me to head North. What a fool!
Pitching up at the most adorable place in Wells on Sea was easy peasey with the guys at Blue Skies campsite offering everything you could possibly ask of a site. The staff were so fun and accommodating and I really enjoyed meeting them. Nothing felt a bother and they were so relaxed and welcoming. I was chuffed to bits I had booked in with them.
Seals, seals, seals I was told by everyone I met in the area. You must go to visit the seals because Norfolk have the best tours to observe them. My absolute passion for the ocean and marine life meant that this was not a difficult decision to make. Off I went.
Now, the thing here is that like anywhere that you visit that offers a tour to see marine life or a point of interest, you tend to find some competition between operators. That difficulty of choosing from various companies who all claim to offer the best tour or experience and the best ticket price is routinely something I dread.
The case here in Norfolk was totally the opposite to my preconceptions. Family run tour providers line Morston Quay eager to take anyone and everyone out to visit their beloved, and I stress that word, seals.
There are no ticket touts urging you to board a particular boat or shuffling you in a certain direction. The vibe is to turn up, jump on a tour and if the boat you lined up for happens to be full, just simply potter along to the next boat and just like that, business is shared equally, fairly and pleasantly.
I cannot express enough here how lovely everyone was. You feel welcomed, safe and excited on any vessel you board. staff from different companies are all waving at each other and saying hello, communicating via radio about the best locations to spot seals for their passengers. There is no sense of rivalry.
On the day I happened to be in the area I spent time with Temple tours and Bean Tours. The overwhelming sense from both operators of family history in this area was heart warming. Generations of families working together to share their local seal community and to run responsible tours that didn’t disturb the seals in any way. The tone on the boats was to enjoy these stunning creatures and other local sea life by respecting their space and environment.
The quay that leads tourists up to the sandbanks and shallows that the seals bask and feed in is easily accessible by kayakers or paddle boarders but the almost unspoken but well respected rule of visiting them by tour is practised for everyones benefit but mainly for the common and grey seals that reside here.
I absolutely loved the stories about samphire picking and crab claw cracking. The history of the wooden boats moored and sustained here to prolong sea fishing traditions and the strong sense of pride in the work of previous folk who lived and worked here on the water.
The seals were an utter treat but the magic of this community of people protecting and educating tourists about them is another level of special and I felt lucky to have met them all.