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Map guide: the best places to eat on Britain’s motorways

by Caroline Morrish 08 Aug 2018

When it comes to a long car journey, the food options available on the UK’s motorways and main roads usually range from expensive and disappointing to downright depressing. But it doesn’t have to be all soggy sandwiches, grey fast food and dishwater coffee – there is another, more palate-pleasing way to travel. Dotted amongst the Roadchefs and Motos are interesting foodie pit-stops found on, or near, some of the nation’s main motorways. Run by passionate people, this collection of cafés, farm shops, restaurants and artisan outlets all serve up good food, with many offering gourmet goodies that you can take away, too. Just try not to drop too many crumbs in the car.

1. Westmorland Tebay Services, M6

Opened forty years ago by Cumbrian farmers John and Barbara Dunning, Tebay was the first family-run service station in the UK and offered a small shop and café serving locally sourced food and drink. Today the enterprise has grown, but the ethos remains the same, with a brilliant kitchen and farm shop, patisserie and deli which showcase ingredients from seventy local producers. There’s even a butchers which offers traditionally prepared meat, much of which has been reared on the Westmorland family’s own land. Best take an extra bag so you can stock up after you’ve enjoyed your refreshments.

Contact information
Westmorland Place , Orton , CA10 3SB

Telephone

015396 24511

2. Wortley Arms, M1 (five minutes from Junction 36)

Just off the M1 between Sheffield and Wakefield, this pleasant gastropub is open daily for lunch from 12pm. Settle into the cosy surroundings of the eighteenth century coach house with its oak beams and stone fireplaces and enjoy a cask ale (for non-drivers) with something from the varied menu. The kitchen serves up a great selection of imaginatively re-interpreted classic dishes, such as braised shoulder of lamb with bubble and squeak, confit carrot and dumpling, or treacle-marinated sirloin steak with broccoli and blue cheese. Many of the ingredients used come from the pub’s own allotment and there are lots of veggie options, plus a stonking pudding menu. Find room for the Yorkshire rhubarb Bakewell tart with ginger meringue, then roll back to the car and try and get your seatbelt back on.

Contact information
Halifax Road , Thurgoland , Wortley , S35 7DB , Sheffield

Telephone

0114 288 8749

3. Gloucester Services, M5

Run by the Westmorland family (the same people behind Tebay Services), Gloucester Services is a shiny new venue set in green hills with its own pond and waterfall. Modestly describing itself as a farm shop and kitchen, it is so much more, quickly becoming something of a foodie destination in its own right. The light, bright and eco-friendly building houses a lovely food hall, with a grocers, fishmongers, butchers and patisserie, all selling gourmet brands and products sourced from 130 trusted suppliers from within a thirty-mile radius. There is a ‘quick kitchen’, where you can grab a pie, soup or stew and coffee to go, while the café has focaccia sandwiches and homemade cakes, plus proper burgers made with local lamb and beef mince, served on a brioche bun. I guarantee you’ll find it hard to leave.

Contact information
Brookthorpe , Gloucester , GL4 0DN

Telephone

01452 813254

4. Olive & Co, A38

Found just off the A38 in the charming town of Liskeard, this lovely little independent café is the perfect pit stop on the main route into Cornwall. Coffee is from Monmouth and made well, with milk from the local Trewithan Dairy. Choose from the changing menu of soups, colourful veggie options and ‘stacked’ sarnies, which include the likes of ham and piccallili with tahini slaw and a rather splendid egg mayo and cress which comes sprinkled with dukkah. There’s a cute green garden to relax in while you eat, and if you fancy one for the road, pick up a slice of cake from their glorious display of home-baked beauties. The triple chocolate brownies are particularly moreish.

Contact information
Windsor Place , Liskeard , PL14 4BH

Telephone

07379 807104

5. The Lambing Shed, M6 (ten minutes from Junction 19)

Housed in a converted building which was previously used for rearing sheep on the Mitchell family’s farm, this Cheshire farm shop and café opened with the aim of showcasing its own award-winning beef and lamb. This home-reared meat is the star of the show in the on-site butchers and there is also a deli which champions Cheshire cheese, as well as offering local honey, beer and fresh produce. The modern café has outdoor seating surrounded by green fields, and is a lovely spot to enjoy a light bite or something more substantial from the comprehensive food menu. All the meat in the dishes comes from the butchers and the farm where possible.

Contact information
Moseley Hall Farm , Chelford Road , Knutsford , WA16 8RB

Telephone

01565 631027

6. The Hardwick, A40

Not far from the M4 on the main A40 route up through Monmouthshire, The Hardwick is set just off the dual carriageway on the B4598 and offers a special lunch or dinner stop for hungry passengers. With acclaimed chef Stephen Terry at the helm, the restaurant has received many awards and great reviews over the years. The menu is a joy to read and eat your way through, with inventive dishes that make the most of the local and seasonal bounty available from the region. After enjoying the likes of roast hake and braised octopus with white bean, pea and chorizo fabada and chocolate mousse with honeycomb and salted caramel sauce, you might need a little pause. Luckily, the restaurant has a few neatly styled rooms where you can rest your weary head, should you choose to make a night of it. With food this good the road trip can wait until tomorrow.

Contact information
Old Raglan Road , Abergavenny , NP7 9AA

Telephone

01873 854220

7. Three Trees Farm Shop and Cafe, M4 (five minutes from Junction 15)

With views out across the farm and over to Liddington Castle, this Wiltshire farm shop is a pleasant place for a break and bite to eat. Food in the café is simple but sourced and made with care – choose from rolls and homemade soup, as well as lighter options such as the lovely superfood salad with butternut squash, peppers, pumpkin seeds and a red pesto dressing. If you make it in time for breakfast, then enjoy sausages and bacon from the in-house butchers and eggs from the farm’s own Piggott Brown hens. Be sure to pick up a delicious traditional lardy cake, too, made at nearby Marshall’s Bakery in Pewsey.

Contact information
The Ridgeway , Chiseldon , Swindon , SN4 0HT

Telephone

01793 741436

8. Norton Canes, M6 Toll

Norton Canes is a service station of the usual mould – run by multiple operators Roadchef. However, it was recently voted the Best Motorway Services 2018 in a survey by Transport Focus and is one of a few mainstream services to have upped it game recently, with swish new bathrooms and facilities and a revised customer service approach, making for an altogether more pleasant experience. It is also home to one of ‘healthy’ fast food brand Leon’s newest outposts. Offering their usual menu of natural food with world flavours, you can get a quick wrap, salad box and a good selection of options for the kids, too.

Contact information
M6 Toll Junctions T7 , Bettys Lane , Cannock , WS11 9UX

Telephone

01543 272540

9. Cottonrake Bakery, M8 (five minutes from Junction 17)

As you travel across Scotland, jump off the M8 as it skirts around Glasgow and head to Cottonrake. Just a few minutes from the motorway in the Kelvinside neighbourhood of the city, this fine bakery has a counter heaving with all sorts of baked goods that are perfect for grabbing and eating in the car or whilst perched on one of the benches in the shop. Run by chef-turned baker Stefan Spicknell, everything is made fresh on the premises each day, from the breakfast croissants and cinnamon buns to the lunchtime rolls and baguettes. Look out for the special savouries such as Stornway black pudding and pork shoulder sausage rolls or Raclette and tomato tarts. Yum. And as far as I’m concerned, a delicate French tart with a fruity glaze is the perfect hand-held pudding for a car journey.

Contact information
497 Great Western Road , Glasgow , G12 8HL

Telephone

07910 282040

10. The Farm Cafe and Food Market, A12

On the main route through Suffolk, situated on the A12 just near Woodbridge, this café and store offers a lunch-to-go service – just call ahead and place your sandwich order then collect it when it’s ready and head on your way. If you’re not in a rush, take the time to sit in the cafe and tuck into a hot, homemade pie or a substantially sized fruit scone with butter and local jam. All of the ingredients used in the café are stocked in the shop, which has fresh vegetables, local meat, poultry and game, a large selection of preserves, baked goods, local cheeses and ice cream. There are also the farm’s signature ‘made by us’ ready meals, prepared in their kitchens using local Suffolk ingredients, which will make a welcome quick meal for when you arrive at your destination.

Contact information
Main Road , Woodbridge , IP13 0AG

Telephone

01728 747717

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