Go Gillying! (crabbing), Various locations

Go Gillying! (crabbing)
Crabbing (or Gillying as it’s often referred to in Norfolk) is a favourite family pastime in the summer months. Favourite spots for crabbing include Cromer Pier, Blakeney Quayside and Wells Harbour but there are many more available, all along the coastline.  


  • For families
  • Outdoor
  • Free
  • Wildlife
  • Near the coast
  • Animals & Zoos, etc.
  • Competitions
  • Sailing/maritime/aqua
  • Dog friendly

To go crabbing in Norfolk, you’ll need a high tide and somewhere you can perch from, fairly high up from the water.

Crabbing kits and bait can be bought locally. Stay safe and don’t leave small children unattended.

Crabbing in Norfolk

There are two popular crabbing techniques. The traditional method involves using a long line with bait tied onto it. As soon as the crabs nibble the bait and latch hold, you hoist up your line and with a bit of luck (and patience), you’ll catch your first crab. If you’re lucky you can catch several in one go!

It’s a good idea to have a bucket filled with seawater to home your crabs. Once you’ve finished, count your crabs and be sure to carefully put them back into the sea.

Another crabbing technique, which is usually far more successful (but some see as cheating), involves using a netted platform on a line (a drop net) which makes it much easier to bring up the crabs, without them falling back into the water.

Crabbing kits, Norfolk

If you visit most of the local souvenir shops, you’ll usually find appropriate kits, ready made for you to use.  The local seafood shops will be able to provide you with bait at a very small cost. This is normally offcuts of fish (squid and bacon are also known to be very tempting to crabs). Hooks are not permitted and will endanger local wildlife.

If you’re crabbing from a particularly high position (e.g. on Cromer Pier) we recommend walking back down to the beach and putting them gently back into the sea. Dropping the crabs back into the sea from high up can hurt the crabs, though, amazingly, they do have the ability to regrow new claws and legs!

This way, you can have fun watching them scurry back into the ocean and it gives the children the chance to see how they move around. Crabs belong to a group of animals called ‘Decapods’ (which also includes lobsters, shrimps, and prawns) – they all have 10 legs, arranged in pairs. The front pair (the claws) are used as pincers and bigger crabs can give quite a nip!

The majority of the crabs you catch will be Common Shore Crabs (Carcinus maenas). Rarely will you catch an Edible Crab (Cancer Pagurus); these are the delicious, reddish-brown crabs which you see for sale in the local seafood shops and are usually much bigger.