Going The Extra Mile to avoid motorway service stations

Extra Mile guide to motorway service station alternatives

The Extra Mile is a new guide book that steers motorists away from grim motorway services and into tasty local alternatives. It offers a hand-picked and dependable list of brilliant and independent outlets with good-quality local food (often direct from makers and growers), space for children and pets to let off steam, fascinating attractions and knock-out views. Farm shops, cosy cafes, quirky attractions and gastronomic pubs that restore a bit of magic to a journey, without adding too many miles.

Find out more at theextramile.guide

Win  a copy of The Extra Mile

We have five copies of The Extra Mile to give away. Simply leave us a message at the bottom of the page and we will pick winners next week.

Why it’s worth going the extra mile…

In the 58 years since the first motorway service area opened at Watford Gap on the M1, Britain has lagged behind other countries when it comes to rest stops for long-distance motorists.

In the early 1960s, motorways offered the dream of fast and comfortable long-distance personal transport, and a post-Festival of Britain hubris ensured the designs of the earliest service stations were ambitious. The vending machines, ‘robot’ kitchens, foot-operated taps and styling inspired by Americana and aviation enchanted motorists, but the originality of these early sites soon gave way to a homogenised approach to service area design.

As the number of service stations in Britain multiplied over the years, they gained a reputation for over-priced fuel and anodyne surroundings serving food that was both expensive and of questionable quality. The introduction of well-known burger concessions brought nothing if not consistency to the motorway service station dining experience. And all-the-while no provision was made for the non-commercial rest areas provided for drivers in America and on the continent. Such stops offer a free-to-use landscaped area away from traffic with tables, benches, loos and, occasionally, showers.

Ethical insurance

The ETA has been voted Britain’s most ethical insurance company 2017.

The Good Shopping Guide each year reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of the world’s companies and brands, with a view to supporting the growth of social responsibility and ethical business as well as a more sustainable, just society.

Beating household-name insurance companies such as John Lewis and the Co-op, we earned an ethical company index score of 89 – earning us joint-first place with Naturesave.

Ethical insurance company 2017

Your Journey Our world

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Twenty seven years on, we continue to offer home insurancecycle insurancetravel insurance and breakdown cover  while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

Comments

  1. Les Gunbie

    Reply

    Yes please to local, independent, tasty food stops!

    • Janet

      Reply

      Kentish Farm café not KFC!

    • Graham

      Reply

      Excellent idea

  2. Mark Preston

    Reply

    I love your thoughtful and sensible but slightly rebellious stance on all things cycling. Please keep it up.

    The book would serve us well on our run up to Campbeltown at Christmas.

    Best wishes for the weekend.

    Mark

  3. mark

    Reply

    me, me, me,

  4. Stephen

    Reply

    Looks like a drive in the right direction if you ask me

  5. John

    Reply

    This book has already been done. Called ‘ just off the motorway ‘. Produced in the late 70’s. Great book. This looks just like a copy. Shame.

  6. John Holiday

    Reply

    Avoid them like the plague!
    About the only half decent one is Tebay on Monday.

  7. Nic Jones

    Reply

    Would be great to have a guide to more interesting ‘services’!

  8. Christopher Kubale

    Reply

    Yes , completely agree with the idea but don’t reject all motorway services, Gloucester on the M5 is so good as to be a destination in it’s own right.

  9. Gareth Wells

    Reply

    I’d give anything to avoid motorway service station catering…! What a great idea for a book!

  10. Tim Edmonds

    Reply

    I’d like one. no more KFC please.

  11. John

    Reply

    Great book to avoid motorway services when I am cycling down the M1. (oops)

  12. Jill Kempshall

    Reply

    Sounts like the best of places to rest, to have a quick snack or just ro relax; or to eat a slow meal and enjoy how you feel. It seems like this book’s full of cosy quiet nooks, or places with views to let off your fuse. The motorway drones and passenger groans will all seem so far with this book in the car.

  13. Charlotte

    Reply

    My husband and I began exploring the UK significantly more last year, when we put in place a self-imposed ban on holidaying abroad to help lower our carbon footprint. This guide would a perfect aide to our adventures!

  14. Dave MK

    Reply

    Great idea. I had something similar call ‘Off the Motorway’ or something similar, which used to be very useful, but is very old now, so a replacement would be brilliant!

  15. David Smith

    Reply

    We love quirky out of the way places!

  16. Brian D

    Reply

    As a lover of cake this sounds like just what I need

  17. Peter Clark

    Reply

    May I please win a prize?

  18. Peggy Sparrow

    Reply

    Just the thing for a motorist son for Christmas . Yes please save a pensioner some more money.

  19. Jill Dowding-Walker

    Reply

    Yes please!

  20. nic groombridge

    Reply

    Always used off the motorway book and website (And NT and English Heritage guide too) to find such places. Glad to hear of new alternative.

  21. Lawrence Davies

    Reply

    What a great idea for getting good food when you stop.

  22. Richard Hale

    Reply

    Sounds the sort of book I would use. Motorway service stations and truly depressing places. Keep up the good work – i enjoy your weekly emails.

  23. Martin D Summers

    Reply

    Finally. It must have been nearly ten years ago I heard of a book which I think was called “Just off the Motorway”. I have been asking for it every Christmas and Birthday since but with no luck. Now my wishes may come true, thank you

  24. Mike S

    Reply

    Yum Yum, Yes Please !

  25. Sally Kertzman

    Reply

    Sounds great. Yes please!

  26. David Street

    Reply

    The Tebay people opened similar service stations on the M5 south of Gloucester a couple of years ago – locals even go shopping there!. Not withstanding the new book sounds helpful and welcome

  27. Paul

    Reply

    Sounds fantastic. Any guide that helps get away from those places is definitely worth a look. I suppose we are often in a hurry but maybe the book points to places that are almost as convenient.

  28. Lindy Williams

    Reply

    There was a book some time ago called ‘Just off the Motorway’. It may be out of date by now, but it was very good. Not sure that it wouldn’t have been better just to update that one.

  29. Jim Woodlingfield

    Reply

    What a great idea, fantastic for the kids on our long drives to see the grandparents on the Isle of Wight.

  30. Andy G

    Reply

    An up to date version of “just off the motorway” that my father used 40 years ago – excellent!

  31. Malcolm

    Reply

    It’s got to be an improvement in all aspects, and surely can’t be any more expensive!

  32. kris carey

    Reply

    I have just realised that thus is the book i have always wanted, or at least since my first ever visit to a UK service station.

  33. Alan Donnelly

    Reply

    A great way to make the journey part of the experience rather than a chore to be endured…

  34. Pete

    Reply

    Sounds like a great book. I’m all for independent Services providers. Get rid of the current pack.

  35. Janet Francis

    Reply

    I’d much rather fill the bottomless hole that is my son’s stomach with something wholesome from somewhere independent.

  36. Annette

    Reply

    A great way to encourage local character and make boring motorway journeys more memorable. I’d love a copy of this book please!!

  37. Jamie Johnson

    Reply

    doing us all a great service…

  38. Gordon Pells

    Reply

    A book that we have been waiting years for, and it will be used constantly.

  39. Andrew Harmsworth

    Reply

    This could prove POPULAR! We always try to plan something like this, but never quite get around to it. This would definitely make it happen…

  40. Susan

    Reply

    Good to see an updated version of “Just off the motorway”- any easily found alternative to the unrestful hurly-burly of most motorway service areas welcome!

  41. DougMilly

    Reply

    A splendid idea (I never discovered its predecessor!). We rarely use the UK Motorway service stations, except for the loos, which are usually quite good. Our attempts to find a good eatery just off the Motorway have been rather hit and miss, so the guide could be very helpful.

  42. Nate

    Reply

    I’ve been looking for this book for a long time!
    I remember hearing the author’s being interviewed on the radio many years ago.

  43. Anne

    Reply

    Unfortunately, ‘just off the motorway’ didn’t offer much for the bits of motorway we used at the time. I would love to see if this new version can come up with more alternatives. Would love to win one!
    PS. Love receiving the emails, even though I don’t cycle, I find them very interesting.

  44. Steve

    Reply

    Excellent idea!

  45. James Russell

    Reply

    We had an earlier version of this book (or something similar) and found many an interesting stop. That was before motorway services started to serve up anything but what my vegetarian wife was looking for. Hope again?

  46. Iain

    Reply

    It will be good to have something that can notify you of places away from motorway.

  47. Brian Monaghan

    Reply

    Eu Te Amo 💚

  48. Graham Corfield

    Reply

    Wow super, count me in!! I would go an extra 10 miles, so an extra mile is nothing!! Fingers crossed.

  49. Sam Widdows

    Reply

    What a great idea for a book, sounds right up my ‘street’ 😜 Keep up the good work guys, love your email updates too, Sam in Frome

  50. Nick

    Reply

    It would be fantastic to support some alternative hostelries without engaging in the miles long goose chases that I normally end up getting lost on

  51. Berny

    Reply

    Book a great idea, winning one would make it even greater!

  52. Paul Hudson

    Reply

    An excellent idea, I have often wondered if there was an alternative, driving into a stop on the motorway

  53. whobiggs

    Reply

    please

  54. Dave

    Reply

    Excellent idea we go off the motorway looking for alternatives to service stations but it’s a bit hit and miss

  55. Jacob Heringman

    Reply

    What a great idea for a book! Yes please….

  56. Viv Beel

    Reply

    What a brilliant idea, and hopefully you can support local businesses and not multi national companies.
    Also you get to see life away from the motorway.

  57. Mark B

    Reply

    This would be fantastic for the glove box

  58. Pam Hanley

    Reply

    What a fabulous idea, it would transform my regular 3 hour motorway trips to visit elderly parents who live inconveniently far from the railway!

  59. James McDonald

    Reply

    This will take some of the guesswork out of a practice I love to use on any long distance trip. Always a pleasure to find a new place to rest up for a while that doesn’t have the obligatory big brand franchises.

  60. D.Styles

    Reply

    Any distance to avoid overpriced junk food.

  61. Sheena M

    Reply

    Great idea – would love a copy.

  62. Mike Croker

    Reply

    Sounds like just the (meal) ticket 🙂

  63. Dick Willis

    Reply

    Oh yes, please.

  64. Hilary Robinson

    Reply

    I wonder if it will mention the location of disabled toilets? Modern motorway services seem to have all the toilets right at the back of the area, so the distance is prohibitive if you have reduced mobility. I suppose it’s to make you walk past all the shops, cafes, games etc.

  65. Nadine Smykatz-Kloss

    Reply

    I would love to have this knowledge to hand travelling up and down the country for work. I usually use Westomorland Services, as they sell local produce.

  66. Hollie

    Reply

    This would make a fantastic Christmas present for my parents who spend their holidays exploring the UK in their campervan! It’s always good when you enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

  67. dave gravelle

    Reply

    What a cracking idea, no more rubber chicken!!

  68. Pete Webb

    Reply

    Great Idea – disabled toilets are always a problem for my wife at Motorway services and we already pull of when we know of an alternative.

  69. Charles Harper

    Reply

    Please god anything to get me away from depressing and expensive (& roobish) motorway services!

  70. Mike

    Reply

    Yes please!

  71. Jane davis

    Reply

    Yes please I would love a copy, would much rather support the independent traders.

  72. Jill Harvey

    Reply

    We try alternatives when we can – will be good to know of more.

  73. Andrea Maguire

    Reply

    So pleased this is finally out, got so excited to hear about it and get involved with your research of places to stop.

  74. Chris Cox

    Reply

    Yes please

  75. Peter Chisnall

    Reply

    Excellent, anything to avoid the rip off, extortionate motorway services!

  76. James Fox

    Reply

    My Dad hates driving on the motorway anyway but he still manages to find the worst bacon sandwiches cafes, coldest coffee brewers or the dirtiest knife and fork hot-spot , please send me one before i enter an early grave.

  77. Joanne Beale

    Reply

    This is a great idea for a book – having just had a baby and with in laws 300 miles away I suspect we’ll be stopping more often on long journeys. And congratulations on the ‘most ethical insurance’ award.

  78. Maz F

    Reply

    Cool idea.

  79. Gavin

    Reply

    I will keep in the glove box (does anyone have gloves in them) next to CamRA’s Good Beer Guide.

  80. Helen

    Reply

    Oh yes please! Somewhere to keep the kids away from Burger Kings and Costa Coffees and those freaking rid on car things…

  81. Matt B

    Reply

    What a great giveaway, love the book, and would like a copy, perfect for family holidays! No more arguments between parents about where to stop! 👍

  82. Christopher

    Reply

    i hate motorway services.

  83. C Buckley

    Reply

    This book will definitely brighten up boringly long journeys!!!!

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Your name and email are required.