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motorway services and little kids - a request for suggestions

(14 Posts)
midnightexpress Mon 14-Jul-08 21:09:37

Just back from a very long return journey via Britain's lovely motorway network - why do NONE of them have anything for toddlers to do (except eat crap and buy tat)? One that we stopped at near Carlisle had a tiny play area with a slide, and on the way back we stopped at Annandale Water, which has a lake and a place for a reasonable short trot, but no play area (despite loads of green space). It just seems daft.

Anyhoo, in order for this not to be just a rant, does anyone know of any places that are good to stop at just off motorways? For picnics or with play parks? I thought it might be good to get a list of good places to stop off at that are within a mile or so of any motorway (my own personal faves are Ms 74, 6 and 1, but any other suggestions welcome).

I'll start the ball rolling with a local suggestion - if you're travelling down the M8 west of Glasgow, Finlaystone Park is fantastic - great cafe, fab woodland walks with wooden pirate ship, slides all over the place and all sorts. And it's RIGHT next to the M8 (actually, I think it is actually just after the m-way ends, now that I think of it, but it's close...).

midnightexpress Mon 14-Jul-08 21:24:18


nct73 Sun 27-Jul-08 20:38:37

Got all giddy for a moment then noticed it said west. Am about to drive from Manchester to Fife with DD (20 months old)and am also hunting for suggestions of places just off the motorway route for decent snacks & a bit of a play. I dont get why services dont have swings & slide/climber like at family pubs. Kids need to let off steam & stretch having been strapped into a car seat for hours. Annandale is pretty at least. The only truly good one I know is Tebay but unfortunately a bit close to Manchester to be a really useful stop for us.

Fimbo Sun 27-Jul-08 20:43:32

We travel from Norfolk to Scotland and usually stop at Ikea in Gateshead (practically go past the door anyway). Cafe is not too bad and cheap and the dc play for 45mins or so in Smaaland. There is also an outdoor play area there as well.

Sam100 Sun 27-Jul-08 20:44:39

Not much use for you ladies - but if you are travelling in the south and looking for a stop off near the M3 then The Lookout Discovery Centre see here is about 10mins north of junction 3 on the M3 (and about 15 mins south of junction 10 on M4). Definitely nicer than the Fleet Services!

filthymindedvixen Sun 27-Jul-08 20:45:22

Someone with a bit of nous and know how should definitely start a website with this sort of's hard for any age, not just toddlers.

wheresthehamster Sun 27-Jul-08 20:48:01

I think there is but I can't remember what it's called. Will have a look

wheresthehamster Sun 27-Jul-08 20:53:11

I think I was thinking of this but this is more attractions and eating places not parks

WilfSell Sun 27-Jul-08 20:58:13

can't remember the name but there is a website on which you can search for places near motorway junctions (like nearby B&Bs etc) - not quite what you're talking about and since I can't remember the name, no use anyway!

I seem to remember a service station on the M5 which has a play area...?

Fennel Sun 27-Jul-08 22:05:58

We also stop at Ikeas (Bristol, Birmingham, one in South Yorkshire) in preference to service stations. Cafes have play equipment + food my dc like (pasta and tomato sauce, 99p, that sort of thing). And you can put them in the ball pool creche for 50 mins for free and they shriek around and we get a bit of a break from them.

There is a service station on the M5 with a playground, I was there a few weeks ago. But I can't remember which one either. Maybe the one just south of Bristol.

nct73 Mon 28-Jul-08 09:38:39

do you think i can persuade Ikea to open a store near Carlise?

Anotherbook Mon 28-Jul-08 14:15:20

Not far from Carlisle -Just off J40 M6 Penrith on A66 Rheged Discovery Centre.Cafes to eat and large wooden play castle outside (although it was closed on the day we went due to rain) and indoor soft play for little ones.

BlueChampagne Mon 28-Jul-08 22:44:26

There is a book, called "Off the Motorway" (Travel Publishing). I gave my parents a copy so their dog didn't just get walked round service station car parks and they have used it a lot. Fimbo, we're doing East Anglia to Scotland too - can you, or anyone, tell me if Gateshead Ikea would be good for an 11 month old?

stitch Sat 09-Aug-08 22:33:48

on the A74M Moffat has an amazing water park. just two ish miles away form the motorway. it was recommended to me by a lovely mumsnetter, and we have stopped there twice now. their is a lake, where you can ride a boat, play golf, have a picnic. etc. and its all free, well, obviously not the boat. smile
tatton park near knutsford junction 19 off the M6 is also fab. you have to pay a car park fee, unless national trust members i think. but they have a play area, and lots and lots ofgreen, a real sight for sore eyes after the motorway.
does anyone, pretty please know of anywhere a bit further south? around junction 14 of the M6?

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