Griston Road, THOMPSON, Thetford, IP24 1PX
If you can't place Breckland, it's that region of gorse-covered sandy heath straddling south Norfolk and north Suffolk. Within its boundaries you'll find this splendid, long and low, thatched 17th-century inn, and worth finding it is for its peaceful location and unspoilt charm. In the 18th century manorial courts were held here, dealing with rents, letting of land, and petty crime. It's more fun here today. Beneath its steeply-raked thatch lies a series of low-ceilinged, interconnecting rooms served by a long bar at which the principal real ales are Adnams Southwold Bitter, Greene King IPA and Wolf Ale. The overall impression of the interior is of skew-whiff wall timbers, squat doorways, open log fires, rustic old furniture and farming implements. Although not long, the main menu more than adequately covers most bases, with starters of pan-fried mushrooms in Stilton and cream sauce; local asparagus with crispy pancetta and hollandaise sauce; and Cranworth smoked salmon with dill and lemon mayonnaise. Its seven or eight main dishes may well include seafood tagliatelle with tomato and herb sauce; Chinese-spiced roast belly of pork with stir-fried vegetables and noodles; and roast vegetable and Portobello mushroom puff pastry pie. To add to one's choice, there are specials - typically breast of chicken stuffed with smoked salmon, and steak and kidney pudding. Finally, dessert - perhaps home-made apple crumble; treacle and almond tart; or chocolate profiteroles. You'll find picnic tables in the large rear garden, where dogs are welcome. The inn is an ideal base for walking the Peddars Way and the Great Eastern Pingo Trail - a string of lakelets (the pingos) left behind after the Ice Age.