Another golden triangle
PUBLISHED: 08:23 30 January 2014 | UPDATED: 08:23 30 January 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
There's a route I thoroughly enjoy driving but don't do it often enough because it lies between two major routes - the A11 and A140.
Turn off the Ipswich Road out of Norwich just before Tesco Harford Bridge on to the B1113 and as you pass under the southern bypass, leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind, you are in open countryside.
This picturesque drive passes through pretty villages with greens, expansive farmland, patches of woodland and several pubs with restaurants serving fine food along the way if you want to make it a full day of it.
As it winds south-westerly I also enjoy how well the Audi Q3, its compact sport utility vehicle, drives – agile through twists and turns with plenty of grip and traction from the quattro four-wheel drive ironing out the bumps and lumps for comfortable, quiet progress.
You pass the former teacher training college, now homes, at Keswick and soon go through the village of Swardeston with the Dog Inn, and then Mulbarton with its pretty duck pond near The Worlds End pub, and the church and expansive common where I watched my boys play youth football and do the popular Saturday morning park run (if that sounds too strenuous just take a stroll).
A little further along is Bracon Ash and, as you leave the village, the Tacolneston transmitters appear and you pass the right turn to Lotus Cars at Hethel, home of so many iconic sports cars.
Carry on to Wreningham and – without this sounding like a pub crawl – you pass the The Bird in Hand freehouse and restaurant, and just before you come into Fundenhall there’s the King’s Head pub. Next stop is Tacolneston which boasts some splendid old houses and a traditional Norfolk church. At one end you have The Pelican pub, at the other The Jolly Farmers.
A short straight later and you are in Bunwell – it’s village after village – before the road opens up and take you to the first point of our “triangle”, New Buckenham, with its Market Cross and Inn on the Green. From here we head to nearby Old Buckenham, turning on to the B1077, and the second point of the triangle. With all the high hedges, you appreciate the higher driving position of the Q3.
Old Buckenham is reputed to have the largest village green in Britain – 40 acres with duck ponds, playing fields and an impressive war memorial. There’s also The Gamekeeper and Ox and Plough pubs on the green.
The final point of the triangle is Banham, another village with lovely little roadside cottages and terraces. The church on the green is worth a look, with an impressive spire on top of the tower. Banham is most famous for its zoo, which has more than 2,000 animals in almost 50 acres of parks and gardens and free car parking.
And here is journey’s end – enjoy a walk on the wild side.
Audi Q3 factbox
What is it? A compact sport utility vehicle with enough space to carry five adults and a decent amount of luggage.
Pricing: £25,595 to £32,405.
Engines: 170 and 211PS 2.0-litre TFSI turbo petrol all with quattro four-wheel drive and 140 and 177PS 2.0-litre TDI turbo diesel with front-wheel drive and quattro. Choice of manual and automatic Stronic gearboxes.
MPG: 2.0 TFSI 36.7 top 38.7 combined; 2.0 TDI 47.9 to 54.3.
Trim levels: SE and sport S line.
For more information contact Audi Norwich, part of Robinsons Motor Group, at Meridian Business Park, Meridian Way, near Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich; 08431 781146; www.robinsonsmotorgroup.co.uk/audi.