Bleary-eyed with travel, the most I'd hoped for when we pulled into Gloucester Services was a clean toilet and a W.H. Smith. It is an understatement to say that I was pleasantly surprised when I was instead met with the modern and inviting Farm Shop and Kitchen of Gloucester Services.
Elderflower and Poppy Seed Cake... I was sorely tempted
Bright and high-ceilinged, Gloucester Services is truly heaven for the weary road-tripper. It offers an extensive range of healthy foods (both pre-packaged and home-cooked); a gorgeous gift shop with quirky local homewares, clothing and books; ample alcoholic options and mouth-watering handmade sweets on top of the usual bathroom, shower and tourism information of a roadside service.
Stopping there only for a snack (the luscious Pullin's Bakery Tiffin) I spent most of my time wandering the Farm Shop, where the gifts section saw me loading my arms full of locally made and sourced homewares and a variety of unusual chocolate. I did, however, wander through the large dining hall and admire the dinner offerings!
A rose-flavoured fudge by any other name would taste as sweet
Gloucester Services boasts a proud family history and to this day is the only family-run motor-side service business. Beginning further North in the lush Cumbrian landscape, farmers John and Barbara Dunning began a tiny cafe that would grow to be a beautiful, bustling business. Their ethics of sustainability and local support is clear both right through from their physical shops to their online presence, where they exemplify "a fierce passion for, and a pride in, our landscape, our people, our environment and its products."
It's safe to say that I never thought I would write a review about a roadside services building, but Gloucester has raised the bar considerably and what could have been a dull break for a limp cheese sandwich was instead the highlight of the day's drive home. If you are ever nearby, make sure to take your break in Gloucester. You'll be thrilled at what you might discover.
Opening Times: Filling station, Ecotricity charge point and free air: open 24 hours Quick Kitchen: open 24 hours Kitchen with free WiFi: 7am - 9pm Farmshop: 6am - 10pm Butcher's Counter: 8am - 7pm
Fishmonger: 8am - 7pm (southbound site only)