: Matt Bird
: Aldeburgh, Suffolk
"You can see below for a couple of routes suggested by Lotus; various logistical issues meant that I wasn't able to start and finish at Hethel, the route instead more Suffolk-based. I can vouch, however, for a couple of the excellent B-roads in those Lotus loops.
Instead my little excursion began and finished at Aldeburgh, because I don't need an excuse to be beside the seaside. That there are a few excellent B-roads nearby, plus a some nice cafes on the high street for breakfast, sealed the deal for me.
Out of Aldeburgh and back on the A12 heading north, I picked up the A144 just before Yoxford, heading to Halesworth; once you're at Halesworth Golf Club take the B1117 towards Heveningham. That runs all the way across to Eye and the A140 (and is fantastic), but I opted to take the B1116 northbound at Fressingfield. This takes you up to the A143, although south towards Framlingham (and it's now much more famous castle) is an excellent country road too.
Take the A143 through Wortwell and soon after there's a right turn for the B1062 that will take you across the River Waveney and in the direction of Beccles. Once you're in the area, keep a look out for the A145 that will take you back towards the A12. A very brief stint on there is followed by the B1125 and B1122 to get you back over to the coast. A great way to spend a Saturday morning!"
Why it's a dream drive
"Because these are the sort of roads that a Lotus is meant to work on. Sure, the Cup is about as track-focused as Lotus products come, but a few Hethel hallmarks shine through when you combine an Exige and country roads. The compact size means you can place it confidently, even with hedgerows, the steering communicates every last detail of the car and the surface, plus there's a sense of immersion and engagement that makes ordinary roads (rather than just race tracks) fantastically exciting.
This is a dream drive because it's packed full of tight, twisting, testing B-roads, unsurprisingly just the thing for a small British sports car to shine on. There are more open sections as well, plus a nice A-road stint, but it's those stretches of tarmac that writhe through the countryside that are most memorable.
Being rural means these roads are typically pretty quiet as well, the A12 serving to get people where they need to be if they're in a rush. Or as much of a rush as you can be in Suffolk. That you can finish your B-road blast at any number of lovely coastal towns only makes it more satisfying."
Highlights and lowlights
"The B1116 and B1117 are particularly good for my money. The section by Heveningham Hall, as the road wraps around the grounds, fences close by like a rally stage, is fantastic fun. Picturesque, too, in the winter frost. The B1116 opens up towards Fressingfield, which I really enjoyed as visibility is not always guaranteed around these parts. In fact, those two roads are probably a couple of the best in the area.
In all honesty the Exige isn't most at home in Cup form on B-roads, finding a more natural rhythm on the wider, faster A145. That's an unexpected bonus, well surfaced and flowing pleasantly back towards civilisation.
Downsides? A few. The B1062 isn't the most exciting (and has 50mph speed limits), while the A145 has quite a few solid white lines down it. Great for reminding you how dull Vauxhall Insignias are; not great for overtaking. And in all honesty, late November is not the best time to be out discovering dream drives. I still think the cold was worth it though!"
Sights, stop-offs and diversions
"Ooh, plenty. Aldeburgh and Southwold are lovely little towns for coastal exploration, and you can soothe any disappointment at the B1116 ending with a mooch around Framlingham.
Heveningham Hall is stunning, a Grade 1 listed Georgian Mansion that hosts all sorts of events during the year including the Concours. There's also the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, which looks great but is closed for a month over Christmas. Oh yeah, and there's a Camel Park near Halesworth...
Looking further afield, there's the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve and the Norfolk Broads. Plus dozens of great country pubs, of course, for when you don't have to drive. Finally, if you aren't satisfied, don't forget that you can pick up the B1077 pretty close to Lotus..."
Follow the route
Also, see Lotus route one
And the other option
- happy driving!