Motorway Services Online

Heart of Scotland services

Heart of Scotland
Facilities | Rating | ReviewsHeart of Scotland
Road:M8 between J4 and J5

Address:BP Connect
Telephone number:01501 750820
Signposted from the road?As BP/Wild Bean Cafe/M&S
rebuilt 1987
rebuilt 2006
Previous operators:Blue Star & Trust Houses / Alan Pond Group, Roadchef
Previous names:Harthill
Grid reference:NS899647
Services type:Two sites located between junctions, connected by a pedestrian footbridge.


The only services between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Heart of Scotland was re-built by BP in 2006.


Forecourt: BP, M&S Simply Food, Wild Bean Café, AdBlue Containers

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles. Further information is not available, please update this if you know.


The new bridge being lifted into place

Heart of Scotland was originally known as Harthill. It was the first service area in Scotland when it opened in 1971 (which was announced on a plaque in the hallway), and its design was modelled closely on the existing English service stations at the time, which was quickly found to be far too large for the actual demand. The motorway here was short and used mainly by commuters/

Heart of Scotland is the only services between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for this reason it doubles-up as a long-distance bus interchange. The services are one of only two in Scotland which are not marked as a recommended truckstop.

Highway Restaurants Limited and Alan Pond

The services were opened by Highway Restaurants Limited, which it's understood was a consortium between caterers Trust Houses and fuel retailers Blue Star. They encountered financial difficulties, and within a few years only the eastbound restaurant was open.

Local fuel retailer Alan Pond took over, and opened a westbound café, a new eastbound café and an eastbound transport drivers' café. Despite their enthusiasm, Alan Pond struggled to keep it running. In 1979 the operator made an agreement to pay a reduced rent, close half the facilities, stop their breakdown service, and close at night, and it still made a loss. Vandalism became an increasing problem too.


The large two-storey eastbound amenity building had a restaurant with high ceilings and large windows, divided into two areas. At the far end was the Inshore Fisherman, a small area roped off by trelliswork hung with fishing nets, glass floats and plastic lobsters. It was a waitress service restaurant with a fish and chip-shop inspired menu, mainly fresh fish - which at the time was a rarity on the motorway. This was the only 24 hour offer.

The larger area was the main café, whose décor was more plain and functional, selling food which was unashamedly frozen. The self service counter lead off at right angles from the main seating area and had a separate entrance from the hallway.

Roadchef and Harthill 2

After Roadchef, keen to expand their business with new sites, took over they replaced it with a smaller building in 1987, but held back by low custom and their own lack of investment, it went on to become one of the dirtiest sites in the country.

Roadchef had planning permission for a motel here but it didn't materialise.

BP and the third effort

In 2006, it was decided that the best move would be to spend £4.1 million completely rebuilding it, giving it a new operator and name in the process.

The bridge between the two sites used to look like something from a 1960s car park, being old and a very dangerous place at night. After much debating the bridge was finally replaced by a modern, state-of-the-art one, which was lifted in to place on the night of the 3rd October by the largest mobile crane in Europe. There are photos of it above and BBC News has footage of the new bridge being lifted in to place.

The old bridge has now been demolished.

The new bridge helps form a park and ride site at the services, accessed from the local road network.

Survey Results

Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.

In 2006, Holiday Which? rated the services at 3/5. It is not known whether this was the old building or the new one.

In 1977, Egon Ronay described the services as "appalling", describing it as "rather desolate and vandalised", the toilets as "unsatisfactory" and the waitress service as "the loosest meaning of the term".


none on M8
Kinross (M90, 37 miles)
Musselburgh (A1, 31 miles)
Services on the M8 none on M8
Hamilton (M74 northbound, 15 miles)
Happendon (M74, 32 miles)

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