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Decker Dave's Dreadful Services Blog

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2019's Shitefest got in to a quite in depth discussion about some of the truly crap service stations on the UK motorway network and a comment was made that I should keep a blog of all the services I've been to. This is that. I'll also include A-Road services if I come across them but only if they describe themselves as a services (Like Stracathro Services) rather than just a petrol station at the side of a dual carriageway (Like Auchterarder). Some info might not be 100% accurate as I've not been to some of them for a while... I'll do my best. I'll probably do them in some sort of order to start with but as time progresses.... etc etc etc. So seeing as it has already been mentioned, let's kick off with -

Edit - Clickable Index:
A1  - Musselburgh - Markham Moor
A17 - Newark (Also A46) - Long Sutton
A47 - Thickthorne (Also A11)
A64 - Bilbrough and Bilbrough Top
A77 - Dutch House - Bellfield Interchange
A9 - Balhaldie - Perth Broxden (Also M90)
A90 - Stracathro - South Queensferry / Forth Bridge / Ferrymuir
A1(M) - Scotch Corner - Wetherby - Blyth
M1 - Woodall - Tibshelf - Leicester Forest East - Watford Gap - Northampton - Newport Pagnell
M11 - Birchanger Green
M2 - Medway (Farthing Corner)
M20 - Folkestone
M4 - Chieveley (Also A34) - Heston
M40 - "The" Warwick - Cherwell Valley
M42 - Hopwood Park
M5 - Frankley - Gordano - Bridgwater
M56 - Chester
M6 - Todhills Rest Area - Southwaite - Tebay - Killington Lake - Burton in Kendall - Forton - Charnock Richard - Lymm Truck Stop (Also M56) - Knutsford - Sandbach - Keele - Stafford - Hilton Park - Corley
M6 Toll - Norton Canes
M62 - Ferrybridge (Also A1(M) and A162)
M74 / A74(M) - Bothwell - Cairn Lodge - Abington - Annandale Water - Gretna
M8 - Heart of Scotland (Harthill)
M80 - Old Inns - Stirling (Also M9)

Stracathro
Location: A90 between Brechin and Laurencekirk
Type: One services for both directions
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: Massive truck / bus yard. Last decorated in about 1972. Next door to a hospital.
Cons: Dreadful food. Frightening toilets.
Comments: I've only stopped here twice. Once bringing some buses back from Insch, I decided to have the all day breakfast which consisted of 2 bits of bacon, a hash brown and an ocean of beans. It was disgusting. The adjecent hospital could come in useful here. The other time on a megabus service to chuck someone off for smoking in the toilet so that doesn't really count.
Conclusion: Avoid like a rusty needle containing the plague and The Bad AIDS™. Use the petrol station if you need a whazz.

 

Perth Broxden (inc Park and Ride)
Location: Broxden Avenue, Perth
Type: Off carriageway, multiple plots
Petrol Station: Esso
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Large parking area for cars and commericals. Simple petrol station with shop and a Harvester, McDonalds and Travelodge if you go back out and up the hill a bit. Next door to Broxden Park and Ride if you're using that to get a bus to Perth or megabus / Citylink services UK wide.
Cons: Broxden roundabout is an utter bastard at peak times.
Comments: Reasonably well appointed. The fact there's separate sites for the petrol station and food outlets keeps traffic segregated if all you want is to use the pez shop for a fill up.
Conclusion: Not bad.

 

Stirling
Location: M80 and M9
Type: Single site. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Accesible from M80 north and south, M9 north and south and local routes to Stirling and Denny. Fuck all else for miles apart from local services.
Cons: Even the best senses of direction will get lost.
Comments: I've only stopped here once when my megabus throw a wiper in the pissing rain. I was stuck for about 4 hours in the coach park with a livestock truck. It was terrible.
Conclusion: Just go in to Stirling if you want a break.

 

Old Inns
Location: Castlecary Road, Wardpark, Cumbernauld. Just off the M80
Type: Dual carriageway hangover
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: Cheap fuel (ie not motorway prices). Decent snack van.
Cons: Unless you read the signs like a hawk or know where it is, by the time you see it you've already went past the exit.
Comments: Old Inns was a services on the old A80 Northbound before it was upgraded to motorway status. They moved the access to Castlecary Road so where it was a slip road off the A80, now you have to come off the M80 to get in. It is signposted as a services in both directions but only on the last signs for the slip road.
Conclusion: Handy meeting point for Club GLF on the way to Crail. Would use again.

 

Bothwell
Location: M74
Type: Southbound only. Roadchef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: None
Pros: Nothing special. Ungated access to local roads.
Cons: Main service building closes at 9pm
Comments: What's the point of having a services so close to where the vast majority of people using the M74 are starting their journey? Even if they moved it 2 miles down the road, people from East Kilbride, Hamilton and Motherwell (3 BIG towns) would be able to use it if they really needed to.
Conclusion: Just don't bother. Keep going to the next one.

 

Cairn Lodge (Happendon)
Location: B7078 between Lesmahagow and Abington
Type: Dual carriageway hangover. Westmorland Group.
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: Free tyre compressor. Usually quiet.
Cons: Feels unloved and dilapidated. At the bottom of a valley. Long, steep slip roads back on to the motorway in both directions kill commercials and small engined cars.
Comments: Used to be, I think, a Welcome Break it is now run by the Westmorland Group who run Tebay. Now has a farm shop and proper eatery but was still decorated like a 1990s services that had been shut for 20 years last time I visited. Was a main services on the old A74 before the M74 was built. Referred to by the SVM as Tebay North.
Conclusion: Not bad. Worth a visit because Westmorland. Seems a bit pointless seeing as Abington is only about 5 miles further south.

 

More to follow....

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Is that the one with the shop spread over three or four small enclosures and full of random kids toys and giftware from the 1980s? With a fecking life size model horse in the end window?

If so, we stopped there on the way to Saabnuts and had a cup of the strongest nastiest coffee known to man.

Proper creepy place.....

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Right, I have returned from the cinema. Godzilla, meh...then again when has there ever been a good Godzilla movie. Few big names in it too. Anyways, I've poured myself a large vodka and coke and I've got a family sized bag of Mackie's salt and vinegar ridge cut crisps so let's continue for a while...

Abington
Location: M74
Type: One side for both carriageways. Welcome Break.
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: Easy to navigate. Generally quite nice.
Cons: Car park is quite small but then again it's still close enough to the main cities that I'd not expect it to get too busy. Known feeder point for tours - pensioners a plenty.
Comments: Generally nice location. Easy access from both carriageways and from the A702 to Biggar. If when you're going south you fancy some shite truck spotting, Reeve and Grossart have a yard full of rotting old wagons just as you go in to Abington village.
Conclusion: Worth a visit. Handy for a quick pee before the home stretch to Glasgow.


Annandale Water
Location: M74 near Johnstonebridge
Type: One side for both carriageways. Road Chef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: Easy access from the M74 and the B7078 trunk route.
Cons: Bits of the main services shut down fairly early in the evening. Toilets, in a similar vein to Cairn Lodge, have separate entry and exit but are bloody horrible.
Comments: I've never been that keen on Annandale Water. It always seems unnervingly quiet any time I've ever been in and the access roads restrict traffic to a crawl.
Conclusion: Meh
 

Gretna
Location: M74
Type: One side for both carriageways. Welcome Break
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: Good facilities. Large car park. Large commerical parking.
Cons: Known stop for tour coaches - pensioners a plenty.
Comments: Gretna was famous* at one point for wrongly having a sign for the M6 on the north bound motorway on slip but it has recentlyish been changed to M74. Which is still wrong as it's TECHNICALLY the A74(M). Has a KFC and Burger King which is unusual for services this far north. And a Harry Ramsdens. And a Waitrose.
Conclusion: Not bad. Is a usual staging point when coming home and want to have dinner while rush hour traffic in the city dies off.
 

Todhills Rest Area
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge.
Petrol Station: BP (South), Shell (North)
Hotel: Travelodge (Southbound only)
Pros: Literally JUST off the motorway. Quick and easy for a quick splash and dash (petrol and toilet).
Cons: Very limited parking. Used to be cheap for fuel.
Comments: Until somewhat recently, the M74 (well the A74(M)) and the M6 didn't actually meet. The northern most point of the M6 (just north of Carlisle) and southern most point of the M74 (just south of the border) were joined by a section of dual carriageway known as The Cumberland Gap. The Highways Agency and Scottish Government could never agree who should finish it even though the missing piece was entirely in England. Todhills was a rest area on said dual carriageway with access to the adjoining trunk roads so was always cheaper for fuel as it technically wasn't on the motorway and was accessible by local traffic. When the motorways were finished Todhills stayed where it was but fuel is now standard motorway prices.
Conclusion: Good rest point. Is almost always used by SVM staff on north bound journeys.

 

That'll do for now.

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4 hours ago, sierraman said:

Gloucester Services on the M5. Full of shit you don’t need at a service station like novelty items. No Burger King either. 

That'll be because it's a Westmorland. Same as Tebay and Cairn Lodge.

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Dishes done, tea made. Let's do another few...

Southwaite
Location: M6 south of Carlisle.
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Usually quite quiet
Cons:
Comments: It's been a seriously long time since I went in to the actual services here so I can't really comment. From memory the fact it is usually quiet makes it bearable.
Conclusion: Potentially shit, can't remember

 

Tebay
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge. Westmorland Group.
Petrol Station: Esso
Hotel: Westmorland Hotel and seasonal camping
Pros: Large car park. Farm shop. Good eatery. Free tyre compressor. Free to use ATM.
Cons: Used to be 100% better than any other services at about 20% extra cost. Now it's the other way about. Riding the name a bit?
Comments: Standard SVM stageing point for southbound journeys. Decent breakfast, nice outlooks and a wander round the farm shop is usually a good way to kill 5 mins. Main eatery and shop shuts at night but the takeaway counter stays open for teas and sandwiches. Approx half way between Cannock and Glasgow.
Conclusion: Definite must visit - Tradition, Old Charter or something.

 

Killington Lake
Location: M6
Type: Southbound only. Roadchef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Days Inn
Pros: Quiet. Out the way. Nice outlook.
Cons: Only 10 miles or so away from Tebay. What's the point?
Comments: Sits on Killington Reservoir and is well off the motorway so is remarkably peaceful. Feels like it's only there because it has to be.
Conclusion: Not bad. Good if you need to stop and Tebay is mobbed.

 

Burton in Kendall
Location: M6
Type: Northbound only. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: None
Cons: Small. Terrible toilets.
Comments: This is another one I've only visited in desperation. Notably that time I ate a packet of sugar free sherbet lemons and had to stop 8 times between Coventry and Glasgow. The toilets are bloody awful and the access appears to have originally been on the outside of the bulding which is now within a glass conservatory.
Conclusion: Just don't. Keep going to Tebay.

 

Forton
Location: M6 south of Lancaster
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: The tower. Eatery is a viewing gallery for the motorway.
Cons: You can't get in to the tower. Everything else is a bit naff. Toilets are on the second level. Can be extremely busy particularly southbound.
Comments: Looks very space age with the tower. Good parking which is easy to get in and out of. Can't comment on the southbound side as it's usually queueing on the to motorway when I go past.
Conclusion: Good on the northbound. Worth a visit. Avoid southbound.

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I've been looking at insurance for the Golf tonight. It's upsetting me. I'll do another couple on here.

Charnock Richard
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Welcome Break
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: Ramada
Pros: The eatery is on the bridge.
Cons: Not the biggest. Can be busy.
Comments: Another of the old school style services common across the north west of England. The eatery being on the bridge is a nice novelty as a viewing platform which makes it slightly more interesting than Forton's shut tower.
Conclusion: Not the worst place I've ever been.


Lymm Truck Stop
Location: Cliff Lane, Appleton - M6 and M56 access
Type: Off carriageway. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: ibis Budget
Pros: Quirky design. Car drivers welcome. On site barbers. The shop sells CB radios.
Cons: Access off the M6 is a bit confusing.
Comments: Lymm was clearly an independant at one point with a weird layout. The main services is laid out like a courtyard with the shops and toilets located around a wee square. Being a truck stop, the commercial parking is massive and the wee shop sells truck related stuff like air horns, CB radios and hi-vis jackets. Also being a truck stop, the facilities are a bit... utilitarian.
Conclusion: Definitely worth a visit just to see the quirky layout.


Knutsford
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: None I can think of.
Cons: Small car park. Small commercial parking. Busy.
Comments: Knutsford is just in the right place to attract a lot of people doing long journeys so it gets really busy. The car park isn't that big and the truck parking is tiny to the point if all you want to do is go for the toilet in the petrol station, you can't get parked for the trucks. The facilities inside are pretty grim as well.
Conclusion: Grim. Not recommended.

 

Sandbach
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Roadchef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: None
Pros: N/A
Cons: N/A
Comments: God it's been a long time since I've been in here. In fact it may be the one I've visited the longest time ago. From memory it wasn't great.
Conclusion: No comment

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49 minutes ago, dollywobbler said:

I'm only here for the Bridgwater review.

We stopped there once a couple of years ago when Mrs BMH was feeling very unwell on our way to Torquay.

She felt even worse when she came out, we had to stop at the next services down, Taunton Deane, for her to recover.

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It's a quiet afternoon. Weather is shit and I'm getting cold just sitting in front tof the tv so let's get the fingers moving to heat up a bit.

Keele
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge. Welcome Break.
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: The approach sign.
Cons: None really
Comments: Keele services has my favourite sign on the entire motorway network owing to it's oldness, political uncorrectness ("Facilities for The Disabled") and the fact it's in the central reservation. Not the worst place I've even been to and that was even before it was mildly refurbed. I've only ever used the toilet at the petrol station since then.
Conclusion: All things considered, not bad.

Keele.thumb.jpg.861b215ec36a2a03fbe0483e4c866cfc.jpg

 

Stafford
Location: M6
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge.
Petrol Station: BP (Northbound), Esso (Southbound)
Hotel: Travelodge (Northbound), Days Inn (Southbound)
Pros: Quite modern. Set well back off the motorway
Cons: None
Comments: Stafford was opened in the mid to late 90s so it doesn't suffer from that grim factor like the others further north on the M6 that are all 60s and 70s jobs. There used to be a really bad tranny that worked in WH Smith on the northbound so a visit was usually worth it just for a look. Northbound has an excellent long sweeping access road.
Conclusion: Worth a visit.


Norton Canes
Location: M6 Toll
Type: One side for each carriageway. Roadchef
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Large car park. Usually not too mobbed due to not everyone using the toll road.
Cons: Won't give you a coach toll voucher unless you're a Roadchef club memeber.
Comments: Probably the first of the millenial style service I ever visited - you know, the ones designed to look like an airport departure lounge.
Conclusion: Pretty bland. Not somewhere I generally aim for if I know I'm going to have to stop somewhere.

 

Corley
Location: M6
Type: One of each side. Connecting bridge. Welcome Break.
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: It's not Watford Gap
Cons: It's Corley
Comments: This one is particularly grim if I remember correctly. I've only ever used it as an emergency toilet stop. I do remember it being quite quiet as it's close enough to Brum that folk just don't bother. I also got photographed bringing the yellow Olympian back north by a couple of bus nutters waiting for me at Corley.
Conclusion: Avoid. It's shit.

 

Frankley
Location: M5
Type: One on each side. No connecting bridge. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge (Southbound only)
Pros: N/A
Cons: N/A
Comments: I only ever stopped here once when the Volvo shat it's alternator on the way back from The Electric Train museum so I don't rate this place highly.
Conclusion: Avoid.


Hopwood Park
Location: M42
Type: One site for each carriageway.
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: None
Pros: Pretty modern. Opened 1999
Cons: Mr FPB7 hates it. Toilets upstairs.
Comments: Quite swish by the standards of the likes of Knutsford - it's got a Waitrose for a start. Airy interior. Was quiet the one time I visited.
Conclusion: Not bad. Would visit again.

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Seeing as I'm going north to south at the minute, I've kinda skipped past this one seeing as it's off to one side a bit...

Chester
Location: M56
Type: One site for each carriageway. Roadchef
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Seeing M'Coli trying to bump start his own car
Cons: Too small
Comments: The car park feels just about the right size for the amount of patronage however the actual building feels about half the size it needs to be and getting to the bogs involves walking round everything. You can't do anything at any reasonable pace at Chester services and you just end up getting angry and wishing you'd kept going. Also rml2345 struggles between the distinction between M56 east and M56 west coming back out
Conclusion: Avoid unless you're desperate. Keep going to Lymm.

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31 minutes ago, loserone said:

Will that include the little shack 1/2 a mile west on the A66 that sells hot ribena?

Scotch Corner services best* for having non-working rapid chargers when you only have 12 miles of range left.

Also good for tank spotting as the Army boys often stop there on their way back to Catterick from the ranges on the A66.

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Meh. Hungover tae fuck from 2 days drinking. Just a couple for now.

Gordano
Location: M5
Type: One side for both carriageways. Welcome Break.
Petrol Station: Shell
Hotel: Ramada
Pros: It's a decent size, I suppose.
Cons: Traffic managed car park. Queues to get out it's so popular.
Fake fact: Named after the inventor of the service station, Gordon O'Services
Comments: Fuck me what an absolute hole. Queues to get in. Drive past a half empty car park that takes forever to go to because of traffic management. Toilets woeful.
Conclusion: Nope.


Bridgwater
Location: M5
Type: Off carriageway. In an industrial estate. Moto
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: None
Cons: Cramped. Shit. Way off the motorway yet still charges full service station prices for fuel.
Comments: Been reading up on this shit hole. It's the smallest footprint of any full motorway services. It has a ridiculously tight multi storey car park, a ridiculously tight access road and the hotel is in the same building as the actual services. When you go in all you do is bump in to people, the "What is there to do" pamphlet stand looked as if a bomb had gone off behind it. Mr cms206 managed to get wheelslip on the ramp to the top deck of the parking. Looks like there has been an application put forward to build a new service station on the other side of the motorway that will be a lot bigger but no plans to close the current site.
Conclusion: Go once just to see how bad it is then never go again.

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More I hear you ask? No? Tough. Anyways time to skip back north of the border to go over a couple I had forgot about and to finish off the Scottish stuff. Until I remember something else I forgot.

Dutch House
Location: Kilmarnock Road, Monkton
Type: Petrol station with Brewer's Fayre
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Premier Inn
Pros: Nothing special.
Cons: Again, nothing to note.
Comments: Just off the Dutch House roundabout where the A77 and A78 meet. Mostly just a petrol station but is signed as services on the A77 southbound. Next door to the Dutch House caravan park. It's the first place that resembles a services that you come to after coming off the Belfast ferry at Cairnryan. Driving up the A77 you do go through some towns and villages that will have local stuff but they all shut at about a quater past 1954.
Conclusion: Handy. Good for a quick whazz before the last leg of the A77 / M77 to Glasgow coming north from the ferries.


Bellfield Interchange
Location: Riccarton Road (A71) and A76, Kilmarnock
Type: Petrol station with McDonald's
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: Sits between the A71 and A76 just before the Bellfield roundabout so can be used to dodge the roundabout if you want to go between Hurlford and A76 to Cumnock.
Cons: Small car park. The Bellfield roundabout is a bastard at peak times.
Comments: Locally referred to as the Q8 as that was the petrol station that used to be there when it opened. The new McD's also sits on the site of the old Little Chef that appeared to have noone in it any time I went past. Only appears to be signposted as a services on the A77 southbound.
Conclusion: I can't think of a reason to visit this one. Then again nothing in particular comes to mind regarding avoiding it. Other than being in Kilmarnock. Get out of Killie at all costs.


Heart of Scotland (Harthill)
Location: M8
Type: One on each side. Connecting bridge.
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: None
Pros: The only services between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Cons: It doesn't offer anything other than a bog that you can't find less than 15 mins away.
Comments: Harthill used to be a proper services but it's now just a petrol station and a bus stop which just shows what kind of patronage it gets. It's also a large site and you can still access all the old bits of the car parks where the buldings used to be which just makes it a dismal hole in the earth. Harthill is basically just a Park and Ride for Citylink and Stagecoach services between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dunfermline.
Conclusion: Avoid. You might just catch Harthill.


South Queensferry / Forth Bridge / Ferrymuir
Location: A90
Type: Multiple facilities dotted around a junction
Petrol Station: BP (South Queensfery), Shell (Forth Bridge) and Tesco (Ferrymuir)
Hotel: Premier Inn (South Queensferry) and Hotel Dakota (Ferrymuir)
Pros: Lots of choice. Much quieter now the M90 has been finished on to the new bridge
Cons: All over the place
Comments: These services are at the first junction south of the old Forth Road Bridge and is simply signposted as "Services". The 3 sites are arranged around the roundabout so you get the choice but it's only if you know what's where. It's all a bit redundant now anyways because the old bridge is for buses and 125cc bikes so you don't really get much access from the new road. I only ever used the Shell garage if I needed fuel as it was the easiest to get to so I can't speak for the rest of it.
Conclusion: Local services for local people


Musselburgh
Location: A1 / A720
Type: One site for multiple routes.
Petrol Station: BP
Hotel: Travelodge
Pros: None
Cons: All of them
Comments: I had to do some research on this dump to get an idea of how it got the way it did. Musselburgh services is fairly new. Built in 1989 to coincide with the opening of the A720 Edinburgh bypass and the A1 Musselburgh bypass so you'd think it'd be reasonably nice. It was originally a Granada with Granada Shop, Granada Kitchen Restaurant and Granada Lodge. The shop became a Burger King, the Country Kitchen became Scotland's only AJs then a Little Chef and the lodge became a Travelodge. The site was run by Moto as well at one point. Since then Burger King and Little Chef have gone leaving the amenities building completely redundant since 2010. Said amenities building is now boarded up and there are various sign posts from the Granada days with no signs on them, some bits of Burger King signs and gateway signage on the way in to the Travelodge with bits missing out of them. The Travelodge and petrol forecourt are still open for business but the whole site feels deserted and MUCH older than it actually is. I dare say if it wasn't for the Travelodge and the fact it's right at the A720 / A1 junction this place would have shut down years ago seeing as The Jewel and Fort Kinnaird are less than 5 minutes up the road.
Conclusion: This place is outstandingly fucking grim. Definitely worth a visit just to have a wander round the site.

1280px-Musselburghback2019.thumb.jpg.7c4162a2a78269644fc8696d01f22c59.jpg       Musselburgh.thumb.jpg.22899e33ab27545234c7287a4d4877a5.jpg

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Right ok. I wasn't sure if I'd include this but it's worthy of a post for completeness.

Balhaldie
Location: A9
Type: Petrol station
Petrol Station: Shell (Southbound only)
Hotel: None
Pros: Easy to access.
Cons: Almost not a services
Comments: This is a weird site. Situated a couple of miles north of Dunblane. It has almost always been southbound only for fuel with a Little Chef on both sides - the northbound being literally JUST a Little Chef with northbound fuel located at Auchterarder. Both Little Chefs closed fairly early with the collapse of that chain which left the northbound services abandoned. You could still get in to the car park for a while but it eventually got blocked off. It reopened with an independant eatery chain (Oliver's Grill and Diner). It never gained traction and closed soon after with the car park being blocked up again. A couple of years ago, a Subway opened with a resurfaced the car park and new fencing to make it look a bit more appealing. The southbound side faired a bit better with folk actually using the Little Chef probably because it was attached to a petrol station. In fact, the Balhaldie Little Chef being the last one in Scotland to close. That Little Chef is now closed but the building is still there and the Little Chef signage still being in place last time I was up that way.
Conclusion: Handy fuel stop before making a non-stop break for it through the central belt.

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This Fred bring back some memories. Mostly of early AM, with the sun just coming up waiting on an AA relay truck to take over the broken paitient off the back of my truck. I always moaned about how bad UK services are, until stopping off in some Belgian ones, which were just slightly better than the bit where Renton went swimming in trainspotting. Stirling services always seemed to be my main collection point for long runs down South, one of which ended up as Pease Pudding services IIRC? I was a bit tired that day, and all for an old fucking Ford Galaxy.

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Correction: Corley has a Day's Inn hotel, northbound.  We stayed there the night of shitefest having got off the ferry at 7pm, working our way back north again.

 

Access to it was pretty terrible, since at midnight the M6 northbound was closed and the staff entrance (a six mile diversion through housing estates not navigable by sat nav) was blocked by police doing a drugs bust. 

Beds were atrocious, it was expensive, but there was at least a Starbucks still open nearby for a £5 hot chocolate (which wasn't nice).  Still don't recommend.

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Stracathro Services needs to be donated to the National Trust for preservation. It would be the most awful shame if someone were to buy the site and redevelop it as a service station which wasn't utterly disgusting and I believe the country would be poorer for its loss. Sure there are other "bad" service stations but that is" bad" measured against a standard that says we get huffy because we have found one without a full range of edemame bean salads. From the moment you catch sight of the dirty, faded flags drooping over Stracathro nothing rises above "disgusting". The smell that hits you when you open the door takes you back to the darkest days of school cuisine where the most appealling aspect is the pervading stench of bleach. Where they are using it is a mystery because no surface appears to have been cleaned since the Relief of Mafeking.

We are fortunate to live in an age where even cheap food is decent. For all people sneer at low cost chain eateries there is a tendency to forget that it was once possible to go into any service station and be served an expensive, poorly presented meal made with utterly dreary ingredients. Stracathro is one of the very few places where it is possible to buy beans sitting under a skin of sickly tomato sauce that tastes "that way", sausages that don't appear to contain anything and tea that tastes of that bloody bleach. It is places like Stracathro that keep us grounded. They give us an idea of how far we have come and how bad things used to be. They are our rock, our anchor.

The days of Stracathro are numbered. One day McBastards Sausage Style Food Tubes Ltd's factory will be found and closed down by environmental health officers from Forfar. That old diesel tank they filled with beans in 1984 will run dry and one day, maybe, they might clean the toilets. Any of these would change the place a little but once they all happen that will be it. You'll have just another mediocre chain service station where perfectly OK food can be bought for only a bit too much. This is for good or (mostly) ill part of our heritage and people need to be reminded that as a nation we have gone through some pretty bleak periods in our history. Children need to be reminded of how we once stared down the barrel of the gun after Dunkirk, they need to be reminded of poor governance leading to the lights not coming on when we flicked the switch and we need to be reminded that once upon a time going for some scran and a slash wasn't the safe, wholesome activity that it has become.

 

 

As an aside I see the place has 18 "excellent" reviews on Tripadvisor. I cannot image what state these individual's lives must be in to consider this place to be "awesome" or "excellent". I suspect the person who wrote a five star review commenting...

Quote

The atmosphere there is great like in a kind of communist type of restaurant or bar.

May have had their tongue wedged in their cheek.

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