The far side
PUBLISHED: 09:18 17 February 2014
When I was a child growing up in Brundall, east of Norwich, the villages of Bramerton and Surlingham might as well have been the other side of the world, not the other side of the River Yare.
For that was BC (before construction) of Norwich Southern Bypass and I could cycle to Postwick to go fishing opposite Surlingham’s Ferry House pub quicker than my parents could drive there as it involved going into the heart of Norwich and out again. Even my elder son used for his measure of a long car journey the query “Is it further than Bungay?” Even with the bypass making it easier to get to “the other side”, visiting these villages is still special because you go to, rather than through, them and it’s hard to believe you are only a few miles from the city.
Leaving Norwich on the A146 Loddon road, at the end of the Trowse bypass turn left at the traffic lights towards Kirby Bedon and we’ll take a little detour here to visit its two medieval flint churches, either side of the village street, which originally served two manorial estates and parishes. Square-towered St Andrew’s thrived and survived, but round-towered St Mary’s is a ruin and disused by about 1700. Back-track the short distance to Kirby Road, turn left and follow it until you see the turn to Woods End to the left.
I’m enjoying this drive and Subaru’s new Outback, especially now the turbo diesel engine is also offered in automatic guise. It’s a pleasing combination, relaxing to drive, the improved ride quality is apparent on some of these country roads and you appreciate the slightly loftier driving position than a standard estate car.
Follow long, steep Mill Hill down to Woods End and you come to Bramerton Common, a public staithe and green, and a favourite spot for anglers especially once the holiday cruisers are tucked up for winter. There is a small parking area and you could don walking boots or wellies and follow Wherryman’s Way riverside path to Surlingham Ferry, passing Surlingham Church Marsh RSPB nature reserve on the way, and then either walk back or return via the road.
If you keep driving alongside the river you come to Water’s Edge bar and restaurant. The gastro pub opened last March in what had been the Woods End pub. Beside the river is a statue of Billy Bluelight, pseudonym of William Cullum, who raced against steam pleasure boats in the 1920s and 1930s along the Yare and Wensum. Turn around and again drive back to Kirby Road. Go left and follow signs for Surlingham and the ferry, taking the track to the Ferry House pub where you can get another view of the river. The road ends here again, so turn back and head back towards Norwich.
The soggy fallen leaves and damp roads are also showing the benefits of Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system when it comes to grip and traction – particularly useful if we have another huge helping of snow this winter.
This month’s drive is only a short one but it takes you to one of my favourite spots in the Broads and an opportunity to clear the cobwebs with an enjoyable country walk.
Surlingham Church Marsh RSPB nature reserve www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/s/surlingham
This small reserve provides a delightful circular walk around reedbeds, fens and pools. In spring and summer, marsh harriers, kingfishers, water rails, and reed and sedge warblers can be seen. Wetland wild flowers provide a riot of colour. The site floods in winter, attracting bitterns, gadwalls and shovelers
For more information about Subaru, contact new retailer Constitution Motors, Constitution Hill, Norwich, NR3 4BB; 01603 788800; www.constitutionmotors.co.uk
In a first for Subaru the latest Outback, an estate car with off-road capability, mates the 2.0-litre turbo diesel Boxer engine to its Lineartronic continuously-variable transmission for the first time. The automatic diesel returns up to 44.8mpg combined and has CO2 emissions of 166g/km.
Subaru has also given the Outback a visual refresh, inside and out, and improved the ride and handling through chassis upgrades. And, being a Subaru, it has its acclaimed symmetrical, all-wheel drive system.
Available only in SX trim, the Outback comes with new 17in gun-metal alloy wheels, roof rails, power-sliding glass sunroof, front fog lights, headlight washers, cruise control, heated front sports seats, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, Bluetooth and rear vision camera.
Subaru’s Outback 2.0D SX Lineartronic is £31,495 on the road, the manual version £29,995.