“ Motorway Service Cafe featuring local produce. Self-service. „
The services at Tebay are like no other in the country.
For a start, they are family owned, and not part of a chain or franchise.
The scenery is better than any other services I have visited.
The food and drink is of the highest quality.
There is an open-air barbecue stall at which you can buy absolutely delicious hot dogs and burgers.
If you are travelling a long way up or down the M6, then it really makes sense to plan your breaks so that you stop at Tebay, which is a mile north of Junction 38. Tebay services are on both sides of the motorway, so you needn't miss out.
The first hint you get that this place might be a little bit special is when you read the signs telling you that the services are within strking distance. Instead of seeing Rank, Moto, Welcome Break or one of those anodyne names, you read the beguiling legend: "Westmorland Farm Shops". Now doesn't that make you want to pull in and investigate?
Inside, it feels a bit more welcoming and homely than those other ones. It's tidier and cleaner, and you want to see more. There's a nice coffee place, and you can see that there is a good-looking restaurant, but your attention is taken by a shop full of delicious looking produce. Go in, and you discover, that it is crammed with wonderful local food. If you don't come out with some, I bet you call in on the way back and make up for that error.
There is plenty of choice in the restaurant, and the food is first class. There are areas where you can sit and enjoy the view over the hills and trees, and a little bit of flowing water one side, where children (and adults) can relax. The outdoor barbecue stall is brilliant - we had burgers in April and loved them.
It may be family run, but it is a business at the same time, and so the prices are not low, but you can't really put a price on having such a nice time at a motorway service station.
We have been to Scotland twice for boating holidays this year (from the Midlands) and deliberately stopped at Tebay Services each time we went past. It gives me a warm glow just to think about going there again. So if you go up (or down) the M6, watch out for the signs between junctions 38 and 39 and give Tebay Services a go.
If you are going North or South on the M6 then plan to stop at The Tebay services because you will find a different experience to what a motorway service area conjures up in your mind.
They are between junctions 38 and 39.
First a little of the history. In the late 1960s the developers contacted John and Barbara Dunning who were farmers working at the summit of Shap in Cumbria. They wanted to seek permission to run the motorway through their farm and they agreed but kept some of the land either side of the motorway and together with a local family of bakers from Penrith formed the first privately owned service area in The UK. Still in the family and run by the second generation of Dunnings the business is now thriving.
The area around this service stop is especially memorable to me as I used to go to Scotland with the family in the early 60s before the motorway was built. We would have to use the A6 which was notorious for getting snow and there were some very treacherous bends to negotiate in our old Austin Cambridge! Now I am sure my dad would remember that!
These days you sail up the motorway; in fact after the bottle necks further south, or if you are heading south the Glaswegian traffic jams are long behind you the area is a three lane motorway paradise where you have to keep an eagle eye out for the speed cameras! Stop though and don't miss this oasis, you'll find a great place here and it's on both sides of the motorway!
The family have 6 businesses altogether ranging from caravan parks to a lovely local hotel-all first class. The local hotel is only 2 minutes walk from the southbound services and has recently won a red rosette for the food for the 10th year with special mention of the local meat from the Dunnings farm.
In 2003 the Tebay services opened The Westmorland Farm shop outlets on both sides. These shops provide a great opportunity to buy some wonderful foods with the emphasis on local. The Lancashire cheese caught my eye and the celery biscuits and we picnic each time we go on fresh produce. If you are going on holiday to Scotland take an empty cool bag and stock up from the shop on the way. There is a butchery counter which I believe is only on the southbound side though but haven't used it being veggie. The farmshops are open 7am-11pm daily and you call call ahead to place an order to collect when you arrive.
Apart from these wonderful farm shops the services have:
Cafés and coffee shops serving delicious hot meals, soups, sandwiches and the coffee is fair trade. Try the courgette cake in the café it is delicious. In the café the drinks were being served in bright yellow cups and saucers last time we were there which looked cheerful and sunny!
They have recently opened an outdoor eating area with BBQ on warm sunny days serving homemade beef burgers, Cumberland sausage and locally picked field mushrooms with Mozzarella. To finish there is locally made ice cream.
For the children there is a wonderful indoor play area and a dedicated dog walk is there as well. Ducks splash on ponds and the whole area is spotless.
Also available is a free cash machine which is good because many service areas have those machines which charge you.
There is also a petrol station which is open 24 hours a day
For those last minute gifts they also have a well stocked gift shop.
In the days of long journeys to see family or friends or whether you have work journeys to make I would recommend this as a wonderful place to stop and stare for a while before continuing your journey. You may like to spare a thought for the folk pre 1965 who would have been battling along the A6 in all weathers!