Inspiration - 5 min read

20 of the best dog-friendly alternatives to motorway services

By Emily Enright

Ditch the the drab motorway service chains and head for these lovely gardens, farm shops, pubs and cafés, where your dog is welcome too. This collection of stop-overs has been chosen from The Extra Mile Guide: here to steer you away from mediocre, expensive motorway service stations and into the arms of the UK’s best independent joints all within striking distance of a junction.

 

Tre, Pol & Pen

Tre, Pol & Pen, Launceston, Cornwall

A30, Junction Launceston; 4 minutes
Whether feasting in the café, browsing for gifts in the shop or chatting to the butcher about the best cut for dinner, there’s something for everyone at this modern farm shop (including the dog). Take a short walk in the grounds or explore the footpaths around the parish of Lezant surrounding the farm; start from the car park across the fields to Penscombe Cross.

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Central Cross Cafe, Cheltenham Gloucestershire

M5, Junction 10; 11 minutes
With wide open spaces, lakes to walk around and an enormous adventure playground, it’s well worth zipping off at Cheltenham to drop into Pittville Park. The award-winning neighbour haunt is housed in an old Victorian pavilion with free parking and circular walks that start outside the doors. Pop in for Fairtrade coffee and fresh bakes, plus handmade dog treats and doggy ice cream.

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Lime Kiln

Rhug Estate Organic Farm Shop, Corwen, Denbighshire

A5, Junction Tyn-y-cefn; 0 minutes
The sprawling Rhug Estate covers a remarkable 20 square miles in the rugged Dee Valley. Stop off on your way to Snowdonia and enjoy the estate’s walks. Although they must stay on the lead, dogs are welcome, with dog-friendly tables in the cafe and drinking stations dotted round the estate.

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Lime Kiln Kitchen, Kilverstone, Norfolk

A11, Junction A1075; 2 minutes
The Lime Kiln Kitchen is a pit stop with restaurant and garden centre. If weather permits, head out to the deck overlooking the reed beds and Kilverstone Estate – you’ll feel like you’re in a nature reserve. Inside, the decor is eclectic and there’s plenty of seating plus a woodburner for colder days; dogs are treated to their own area and there’s even a dog menu with ice-cream and salmon skin rolls.

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Darts Farm

Darts Farm, Topsham, Devon

M5, Junction 30; 5 minutes
There’s shopping, eating and walking here, so it’s worth planning a stop-off. Wind your way through the nature trail on the farm walk, or pick up a picnic (and a few canine treats) from the farm shop and wander along the Exe Estuary trail. Dogs are welcome to join you in the various eating spots, but there is also designated dog parking where they can stay in the shade.

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Three Trees Farm Shop, Chisledon, Wiltshire

M4, Junction 15; 2 minutes
Three Trees is a family-run farm housed on what was once the Chiseldon army camp, on the edge of the Marlborough Downs. You can walk the Timberland Trail from Chiseldon along the old railway lines. Back at the farm shop, you and your dog can eat outside on the decking; cakes are varied and home-baked – the cheese scones have a devoted following. Don’t forget to visit the shop where you can pick up unbeatable farm-made sausages as well as treats for Fido.

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The Potting Shed

The Potting Shed, Langely, Kent

M20, Junction 8; 8 minutes
If you’re looking for a quick stop on the way to or from Dover or the Kent coast, the Potting Shed is perfect. It has plenty of room for the whole family and extras for your four-legged friend –water bowls, a keg for dogs and treats and biscuits at the bar. The human menu is impressive too: tapas-style starters, Asian-inspired mains bowls and sourdough pizza are the norm.

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Gloucester Services, Brookthorpe, Gloucester

M5, Junction 11A-12; 0 minutes
Step inside the atrium to meet counters heaving with sandwiches, pies, stews, pastries, cakes and the reassuring burr of a barista coffee machine. All the produce is locally sourced – they work with over 130 producers within 30 miles of the services. Seating overlooks a tranquil nature reserve and pond area, plus there’s a rustic play area.

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The Hobo.Co

The Hobo.Co in the Shed, Hound Green, Hampshire

M3, Junction 5; 10 minutes
Tucked away in a peaceful corner of the award-winning Hortus Loci plant centre is the welcoming Hobo.Co in the Shed. Seasonal salads, homemade soups, toasted paninis, exquisite cakes and hot meals emerge from the serving hatch, along with coffee and homemade soft drinks – lemonade in summer, spiced berry juice in winter. Dogs on leads are welcome throughout the garden centre.

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Nest, Ripley, Surrey

M25, Junction 10; 4 minutes
There are great walks around the pretty village of Ripley, including canalside hikes following the Wey Navigation and Ripley Green, said to be the largest village green in England. Just in front of the green sits Nest, a shop and cafe with a “dog corner” selling books, cards and gifts for dog lovers. Lunch options include sandwiches, frittata and salads, plus Green & Black’s hot chocolate and home-baked pistachio and lemon drizzle cake.

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