Steamed up by a mystery tour
PUBLISHED: 06:26 29 September 2014
No matter how well you think you think you know Norfolk you get a pleasant surprise when you come across something or somewhere new. It's the same with new car-makers and models bringing something new to the market.
So it’s appropriate this month’s Great Norfolk Drive takes me on a journey of discovery to the Forncetts in South Norfolk – an area I have skirted many times on different roads - in the new Infiniti Q50 saloon, a prestige brand which has just launched its first franchise not only in Norfolk, but East Anglia, at Infiniti Norwich, part of Desira Group.
You can reach the Forncetts from the A140 Ipswich road at Long Stratton or, as I chose, by turning off the B1113 at Tacolneston opposite the Jolly Farmers pub.
The sign says it is a mile and three-quarters to Forncett but then we revert to ‘Norfolk distances’ which seem to mix road with as the crow flies! Soon we pass Forncett St Peter Methodist Church, which is actually at Forncett End – one of the three Forncetts along with St Peter and St Mary.
Carry on and a sign says Forncett St Peter one and a half miles, the next three-quarters of a mile and then, following Long Stratton Road, we are now a mile away. The vagaries of Norfolk road signs – maybe they weren’t put back in the right place after being removed during the Second World War! I’m driving the new turbo diesel Q50, a pleasant and comfortable companion on these country roads, and it’s satisfying to know I can turn to the sat-nav if all else fails!
But I press on and, at the next crossroads, ignore the turn to Forncett St Mary and carry on towards Forncett St Peter – now half a mile away. Followto the left on to Mill Road with a lovely view across the fields, spoiled only by the row of electricity pylons on the horizon. And then you drop downhill into Forncett St Peter with a lovely round-tower flint church with an impressive war memorial and poppy tributes to the men of the village who died in the First World War, an appropriate place to stop on the centenary of the outbreak of the devastating conflict and remember the Norfolk men who gave their lives to keep our country safe. Next door is the primary school, originally a one-roomed school with a teacher’s house built in 1848. How times have changed.
If you leave the village on the road past the primary school you pass Wash Lane to Wacton with its little ford – dry at this time of year – and then pick up signs for Forncett End which brings you back almost to where we started. Instead we leave the village in the opposite direction for Forncett St Mary, passing quaint thatched and flint cottages. Turn left on to Low Road, pass another war memorial and the village hall, and then make a short detour on the road towards Hapton if you want to see a hidden treasure that is Forncett Industrial Steam Museum – it’s best to phone or email if you want to visit (details are at the end of the story) but it looks very interesting.
As the signs says, these roads are not be suitable for HGVs but the compact Q50 saloon makes light work of the twists and turns and smooths out the bumpy country lanes.
I turn round at the steam musem and head back to the junction, turning right on to Cheney’s Lane and the one and a half miles back to Tacolneston, passing Forncett St Mary Methodist Church, and later going straight over at the crossroads as the road narrows further with tufts of grass poking through before I come back to Tacolneston.
What a lovely loop of little roads I never knew existed – a memorable mystery tour.
Infiniti Norwich, Vulcan Road North Norwich, NR6 6AQ; 01603 481800 or email email@example.com
Forncett Industrial Steam Museum, Low Road, Forncett St Mary, NR16 1JJ; 01508 488277; website www.forncettsteammuseum.co.uk. Steam-ups first Sunday of the month, May to October. Final steam-up of this year is the annual model engineers’ day on Sunday, October 5, 10am to 5pm. Models of trains, boat and planes running alongside museum’s full-sized engines. Entry adults £8, senior citizens £7.
Engine range – 2,143cc, 170PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel mated to six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic; petrol/electric hybrid with3,498cc, 306PS V6 engine and 68PS electric motor mated to seven-speed automatic gearbox; 1,991cc, 211PS, four-cylinder turbo petrol mated to seven-speed automatic gearbox (coming in autumn)
Performance – Q50 2.2d – 0-62mph 8.5 seconds, top speed 143mph; Q50S Hybrid, 0-62mph 5.1 seconds; top speed 155mph (limited)
MPG – Q50 2.2d, 57.7 to 64.2 combined; Q50S Hybrid, 41.5 to 45.6 (depending on model)
C02 emissions – Q50 2.2d, 114 to 128g/km; Q50S Hybrid, 144 to 159g/km (depending on model)
Pricing – Q50 2.2d (SE, Premium, Sport), £27,950 to £34,270; Q50S Hybrid, £39,995 (all-wheel drive model £41,640); Q50 2.0 turbo petrol, from £31,755 (coming in autumn)
Will it fit the garage? Length 4,790/4,800mm; width (excluding door mirrors) 1,820mm; height 1,430 to 1,445mm (depending on model)