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Tebay services

Facilities | Rating | ReviewsTebay services
Road:M6 between J38 and J39

Address:Westmorland Motorway Services Ltd
Westmorland Place
CA10 3SB
Telephone number:01539 624511
Signposted from the road?Yes
Opened:1972 (northbound)
1993 (southbound)
Grid reference:NY605062 (northbound)
NY608065 (southbound)
Services type:Two sites located between junctions, with no public connection between them.

Facebook Page
Twitter: @TebayServices

By far the most popular and probably the most famous service station. It's a family owned site which sits in the Lake District on the M6, consisting of two services offering great views. It has many nice and unique facilities such as a duck pond, a farm shop and a caravan park, and its quality and cleanliness are often praised.

Lorry drivers may prefer the J38 Truckstop, which is also ran by Westmorland and located a few miles to the south at junction 38.


Catering: Cafe, Food to Go Shops: Butcher's Counter, Farm Shop, Snack Bar Main Amenities: Children's Play Area, Dog Walking Area, Free Cash Machines, Meeting Room, Outdoor Barbecue (weather dependent), Picnic Area, Showers
northbound only: Caravan Park, Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Tesla Charging Point
Motel: Tebay Services Hotelwebsite Forecourt: Esso, Shop, Coffee Bar, Food to Go, AdBlue Containers, Premier LPG, Car Wash

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £10, HGVs must pay £16 to include a £3 food voucher and caravans must pay £18.

The fees are enforced by Westmorland Limited.

Trivia and History

Tebay services restaurant.
Simplicity is best in the restaurant.

In 2010 the services raised £3,500 for the Cumbria flood appeal.

It's one of the few sites where signage encourages vehicles to use the Rear Access, although 'no entry' signs are also used. This is mainly to serve the hotel (originally 'Tebay Mountain Lodge') and caravan park, which are technically built off-site, a decision which was controversial at the time as it meant the Ministry (as-was) were unable to regulate what went on.

However, when the caravan park opened in 1980, the unusual trial was supported by the government, and they considered another one at Southwaite. The hotel was extended and renamed in 1997.

Development Northbound

Westmorland hotel.
The Westmorland Hotel - not a budget chain motel.

When the M6 was built through Cumbria, the Department for Transport were working on the principle that placing service stations in places with good views would get more people to stop. For this reason, services were proposed at Tebay northbound and Killington Lake southbound: two smaller services would have been more popular with the struggling operators than one large one. The road layouts at Tebay and Killington are very similar.

Before this design was decided upon, the idea of building the services in the middle of the M6, where the carriageways were already designed to be apart to reduce the amount of earthworks required. This idea was quickly ruled out as impractical and destructive, and has never been used in the UK.

As it happened, neither site was a hit with the established operators at the time, but local unemployment rates caused by the recent closure of Tebay Junction station inspired the Dunning family, whose heritage was farming and motor trading in Cumbria, to enter a partnership to take on the Tebay site. In a special arrangement, the family had to bid for the financial side of the contract only, and after this they would work with architects and the DfT to design a service area. This agreement meant Tebay was one of the first services to allow only one brand of fuel to be sold.

The northbound petrol station appears to have opened before the amenity building.

The services cost £100,000 to build, making it one of the cheapest new developments. Upon opening, its scale and style was described as "personal", which may explain how it escaped the spate of vandalism many other services saw. The building was made of stone, and the interior had a high-pitched beamed roof and a rustic décor which tried to recapture a Scandinavian hunting lodge atmosphere.

In 1994, a coffee shop opened at Tebay, the first on the UK motorway network. In 2003, Prince Charles opened the network's first farm shop here.

Southbound Services

In 1978, a picnic area was proposed on the southbound side, serving cars only, which would have been ran by Westmorland. This was repeatedly postponed and eventually Killington Lake was expanded instead.

Westmorland did open a full southbound services in 1993, 20 years after northbound, and followed the pleasing architectural principles which had made northbound so famous. It forms the head office for Westmorland who run several businesses in the area.

The idea of opening a picnic area only here had been investigated for some time.

In 2008 the southbound services were refurbished and became the first motorway service station with a butcher's counter. Inside, the lack of advertising or loud colours gives it more in common with some National Trust properties than any other service station.

Survey Results

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

In Spring 2017, Transport Focus calculated a 98% satisfaction score for the services, making it the eighth-best nationwide.

In 2015, VisitEngland gave the services 5 stars.

In July 2015, Tebay Services were awarded with the Samworth Brothers Rural Action Award at the Business in the Community Awards and were praised for being "genuine rural champions".

Tebay Services northbound was seen to be home to the 'most pedestrian-friendly car park in the UK' in a survey carried out in August 2015 by the Road Safety Markings Association.

In May 2012, VisitEngland gave Tebay south their first five star rating, with the northbound side getting four. The southbound gained a second five star rating in May 2013.

In 2011 Tebay northnound was the only motorway service area to enter the Loo of the Year Awards, and it was graded 5 stars.

In August 2011 the southbound services were rated 4 stars by VisitEngland, who said they had the best outside play area and landscaping and said it was best for families. However, also in August, Manchester Confidential suggested that the services suffered from the same pitfalls as many of the others when it comes to staff, food and cleanliness, with the only difference being the family values.

In November 2010 the southbound services won a five star loo award.

In October 2010 Sarah Dunning, the director of Westmorland, topped the Family Business category at the Institute of Directors' Director of the Year awards.

In December 2009 the services won a five star loo award and came top in the motorway services category, but few services took part in this.

In 2009 it won Egon Ronay's British Academy of Gastronomes' Grand Prix award, thought to be the first time a service station has ever won such a thing.

Also in 2009 it won the Northern Foods Rural Action Award in the Businesses in the Community Awards for Excellence. It was also listed in The Telegraph's top 50 farm shops, and The Times listed it as the best service station in the country.

In November 2006 the BBC's 'The Money Programme' loved Tebay's food but hated the prices that came with it.

Holiday Which? also loved Tebay, and in 2006 they chose it as the best service station in Britain.

The services were inspected by The AA on 3 and 4 April 2004 and it turned the general opinion of Tebay on its head. These are their results:

Road safety and parking:Acceptable
Outdoor facilities:Very Poor
Access and indoor facilities:Acceptable
Shop:Very Good
Communications:Very Poor
Pricing:Very Poor
Final Score:Poor

The services were said to offer good food and a good shop, but the toilets, floor and showers were all dirty and it was the only service area in the UK to ever fail the 'quality of access roads' test.

Tebay's farm shop won 'Best Local Retailer 2003' in 'BBC Radio 4's Food and Farming Awards'.

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

A 1978 government review described the services as "too small and a bit tatty".

In 1977, Egon Ronay rated the services as "poor", and he concluded by calling it "sad because there are possibilities here". It was "pleasant" until you received your food. The pastries were good, which he put down to them knowing a good bakery, but the rest of it was poorly-made from cheap ingredients.


Burton-in-Kendal (M6 northbound, 21 miles)
Killington Lake (M6 southbound, 11 miles)
Scotch Corner (A66, 44 miles)
Services on the M6 Southwaite (26 miles)

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