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Decker Dave's Dreadful Services Blog

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This year'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:
A90 - Stracathro
A9 / M90 - Perth Broxden
M80 - Old Inns - Stirling (Also M9)
M74 / A74(M) - Bothwell - Cairn Lodge - Abington - Annandale Water - Gretna
M6 - Todhills Rest Area - Southwaite - Tebay - Killington Lake - Burton in Kendall - Forton - Charnock Richard - Lymm Truck Stop (Also M56) - Knutsford - Sandbach - Keele - Stafford - Corley
M6 Toll - Norton Canes
M5 - Frankley - Gordano - Bridgwater
M42 - Hopwood Park
M56 - Chester

Stracathro Services
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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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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