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By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Tebay Services on the Northbound M6

Tebay Services on the Northbound M6


Motorway service stations have, over the years, gained a justified reputation for offering poor quality service at inflated prices. Regardless of the operating chain, the food in the cafeteria is the same, the gifts and publications in the shop show little variation and the prices reflect the almost monopoly market in which they operate.

But as with many aspects of travel, there are hidden gems. And one of these is Tebay motorway service area on the M6 in Cumbria.

Tebay services is the only motorway service area in the UK to be owned and operated as a family business. Its origins lie in the late 1960’s when the M6 was pushing northwards across Shap Fell towards Carlise. Rather than opposing the development, local farmer John Dunning worked with the developers to minimise the impact the motorway would have on his farm. He retained land either side of the motorway and in 1972 Tebay Services opened for business on the northbound side of the M6, initially providing a small shop, a cafe and a petrol station.

So far a typical story.

Then in 1976 the Dunnings opened a small hotel on the site with 32 rooms. This was followed by a caravan park in 1980, offering up to 80 pitches. Further developments included the extension of the hotel to add more rooms and conference facilities and the inclusion of a farm shop and delicatessen selling local produce in addition to more exotic fare. In 2000 the restaurant was award 2 stars by Egon Ronay.

When heading north to Scotland Tebay has become an essential stop for many travellers, myself and my family included. A hearty meal cooked from local produce, followed by an opportunity to walk around the site and take in the spectacular views of the Cumbrian hills provide the perfect break in a long journey.

Westmoreland Farm Shop

Westmoreland Farm Shop

And even with a full stomach, a wander through the farm shop will have you stocking up with “snacks” as far removed from the typical prepacked sandwich or pasty as Tebay is from your average service area. The shop offers such delights as Penrith Porker Pie, Duck and Port Pie, or Lakeland Plum Bread for those with a sweet tooth, or buy fresh ingredients to eat later, such as local speciality cheeses, or a selection of locally reared meats.

For some people though, an hour isn’t long enough and Tebay has become popular as a venue for weekend breaks.

The caravan park offers all the facilities you’d expect of a modern site, yet still manages to win awards for environmental awareness and conservation. And the hotel offers 50 bedrooms ranging from standard rooms with en-suite facilites including locally produced organic toiletries to 4 suites with views over the surrounding fells.

The Westmoreland Hotel, Tebay

The Westmoreland Hotel, Tebay

Nearby are a number of attractions including the Rheged Centre just 15 minutes from the service area. Venture further into the Lake District and you’ll find such varied attractions as steamer trips on Ullswater, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum or the Cars of the Stars Museum. To the north is the historic town of Carlise with its medieval castle, Lanercost Priory and Hadrian’s Wall.

View from Tebay Services

View from Tebay Services


If you’re looking for a weekend break with a difference, Tebay is well worth considering. And planning a stop at Tebay should be as essential an aspect of a journey north as checking the oil and tyres on your car.

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