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Leicester Forest East services

Leicester Forest East
Welcome Break
Facilities | Rating | ReviewsLeicester Forest East services
Road:M1 between J21 and J21a

Address:Welcome Break
Leicester Forest East Motorway Services Area
Hinckley Road
Leicester Forest East
Telephone number:0116 238 6801
Signposted from the road?Yes
Previous operators:Ross
Grid reference:SK538026
Services type:Single site built upon the motorway.
Visit Leicester Forest East/Welcome Break's official website
Facebook Page

An old and crowded service area with all the restaurants on the bridge, packed in between two junctions. Its age is hidden by the many facelifts it has received. It forms a gateway to The National Forest.


Catering: Burger King, Harry Ramsden's, KFC, Starbucks, Subway, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, West Cornwall Pasty Co., Yorkshire Tea, Starbucks Drive Thru Shops: Fone Bitz, Waitrose, WHSmith Main Amenities: Conference Room, Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Picnic Tables, Showers, Welcome Break Gaming Motel: Days Innbook Forecourt: BP, BP Connect, Wild Bean Café, AdBlue Containers

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £24, or £26 to include a £9 meal voucher.

Prices can be paid in the shop with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

Trivia and History

A view of the iconic bridge

The filling stations are operated by BP Express.

The problem with the age of the services is that it needs frequent refurbishment to stop it looking dire. As a result it goes through phases of looking good and phases of not.

There is a Highways Agency works depot on the northbound exit and there is a Geocaching point located on the southbound rear access road.

In 2009 the services hit media attention after the adjacent hotel was used as overflow digs by Leicester University.

The local press described the services as "Leicestershire's best known landmark".

Many people ask about the name 'Leicester Forest East', given that the services are west of Leicester and there is no Leicester Forest. The answer is that they are located east of the village of Leicester Forest East, which itself is east of Leicester Forest West. Interesting.

Bridge Design and Ross Foods

Full details: History:Leicester Forest East

During the early days of the services, you would have been able to walk along the promenade and terrace alongside the bridge, but these have both closed due to health and safety regulations. At the time it was built the idea of building the services around a bridge was falling out of favour with the government and they weren't too pleased with the plans, but Ross' were welcomed to the network in the hope the new name would bring some variety to the motorway.

View the Leicester Forest East restaurant menu (June 1977)


Full details: The Rise and Fall of Leicester Forest East

The services are currently in a fairly dangerous position, as there are busy junctions either side and the M1 is four lanes with no hard shoulder through the services. The Highways Agency wanted to widen the M1 here yet again and they want to expand J21, both of which would require the services to be closed as they would be too dangerous. This was due to happen in 2010, but was then put back to 2017 before being postponed indefinitely.

Amongst other things, a Facebook group was set up, which was remarkable at the time.

Survey Results

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

In 2015, May 2012 and August 2011, Visit England rated the services as 3 stars.

In 2008 the northbound services won a five star loo award.

In 2007, the northbound services won a five star loo award. The southbound site was rated four stars.

In 2006, the services were rated three out of five by Holiday Which?

In 2005 and again in 2006, the services won a five-star loo award.

In 1991, a Which? survey rated the services as "average".

In 1977 Egon Ronay rated the services as poor, but did concede that the main restaurant was "borderline acceptable". He said it was "attractively designed" but the convenience food was a let-down, especially the "hamburger which could have been made of anything".

Back in 1968, a Which? review of the services found that they had the only decent restaurant on the motorway network.


Watford Gap (22 miles)
Warwick (M40 south, 39 miles)
Corley (M6 west, 26 miles)
Services on the M1 Markfield (6 miles)
Donington Park (16 miles)
Leicester (A46, 7 miles)
Newport Pagnell (45 miles)
Warwick (M40 south, 39 miles)
Corley (M6 west, 26 miles)
Welcome Break services Woodall (56 miles)
Derby South (A50 west, 21 miles)

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