Driving home for Christmas but dreading the meal options on offer from Britain’s network of often miserable, crowded service stations?
Worry not, because a portion of help has arrived in the form of book The Extra Mile, by accommodation guide Sawday’s. It’s filled with delightful places to take a pit stop, from a railway carriage cafe to a vineyard restaurant, that are all near major roads and motorways.
Here we present 15 of our favourite spots from the tome.
Drift, off the A1, Canty Bay, North Berwick. Junction – West Barns. Driving time from the junction – 13 minutes
Drift café is set inside a converted clifftop shipping container and serves up sweeping views of the coastline near North Berwick
Drift is a 13-minute drive from the West Barns junction of the A1 and serves breakfast, lunch and a range of cakes including scones
Quirky Drift café is set inside a converted clifftop shipping container and serves up sweeping views of the coastline near North Berwick.
The menu includes what Sawday’s’ authors refer to as ‘finger-licking cakes, tasty breakfasts and wholesome lunches’. It’s open daily, year-round. Top tip – try the scones. ‘They have a following of their own,’ says co-owning farmer Jo.
Loch Arthur Camphill Community Farm Shop, Beeswing, Dumfries, off the A75. Junction – Cargenbridge. Driving time from junction – 8 minutes
Eight minutes from the A75, the Loch Arthur Farm Shop grows and serves organic food and vegetables
Loch Arthur’s café menu includes a range of homemade soups, pies, open sandwiches and a selection of freshly baked cakes and biscuits
The Loch Arthur Farm Shop, near Dumfries, grows and serves organic food and vegetables.
Alongside the artisan cheeses and organic meats on sale in the shop, you’ll find crafts that have been produced by the community of people with learning difficulties who live and work at the site.
The café menu, meanwhile, showcases a range of homemade soups, pies, open sandwiches and a selection of freshly baked cakes and biscuits. It has ‘everything you could want for your onward journey’, says The Extra Mile.
Tea with Alice, West Park, Darlington, off the A1. Junction – 58. Driving time from junction – 2 minutes
The often tiered cakes (pictured) at Tea with Alice are homemade on-site and the menu changes regularly
Brunch is served between 10am and 3.30pm at Tea with Alice and the menu features everything from breakfast burgers to French toast
This vintage-style Darlington café is named after the daughter of the owners, Mark and Mary, who opened it shortly after she was born.
The menu at Tea with Alice features breakfast, from 8am to 3.30pm, brunches, from 10am to 3.30pm, as well as burgers, pancakes, sandwiches and homemade cakes. Plus, there’s a children’s menu with dishes that range from peanut butter and jam sandwiches to homemade fish fingers.
There are also children’s toys to play with as well as bowls of water and biscuits for dogs. It’s a ‘haven for travellers’, exclaims The Extra Mile.
Low Sizergh Barn, Kendal, off the M6. Junction – 36. Driving time from the junction – 7 minutes
There are craft and gift areas in the shop at Low Sizergh Barn where visitors can buy items such as locally made ceramics
The milking parlour at Low Sizergh Barn, where visitors can watch the cows being milked on a daily basis. The barn’s milkshakes are said to be a big hit with children
Low Sizergh Barn is a café, farm shop and gift gallery that’s housed inside a 17th-century barn and surrounded by woodland, open fields and a fairy trail.
Gallery windows in the cafe, which serves ‘vegetable soups, hunks of quiche and farmer’s salads on chunky crockery’, look into the milking parlour. According to The Extra Mile: ‘Thick milkshakes are a sure-fire hit with children.’
Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour, Hockerton, Southwell, off the A1. Junction – North Muskam. Driving time from junction – 10 minutes
Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour, pictured, serves up views of the Nottinghamshire countryside despite being just a 10-minute drive from the A1
In addition to serving 16 flavours of ice cream, Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour also offers a daily savoury menu and a range of homemade cakes (pictured)
This café serves up views of the Nottinghamshire countryside and 16 flavours of ice cream made from locally-sourced ingredients, such as damson and elderberry.
The Extra Mile says: ‘The floats and milkshakes at Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour are legendary.’
It’s not just ice cream you can buy here, though. Those without a sweet tooth can order from an ‘excellent’ daily menu of sandwiches, jacket potatoes, quiches, soups and other hot items like homemade burgers. Plus, there’s a wood burner to keep the travelling public warm in the winter.
The Farm, Snitterfield, Warwickshire, off the A46. Junction – Snitterfield. Driving time from the junction – 1 minute
The Farm is near Stratford-upon-Avon and is only a minute’s drive from the Snitterfield junction of the A46
The farm shop at The Farm, where local fruits, oils, preserves and even kimchi – fermented in the farm’s micro kitchens – is sold
In the farm shop at The Farm you can buy everything from local fruit and oils to kimchi, which is fermented in the farm’s micro kitchens where, The Extra Mile says, ‘peeping is invited’.
The on-site cafe is called Nourish and it sells ‘wholesome, flavourful’ dishes like fish sharing boards and sourdough pizzas, as well as farmhouse sandwiches and salad bowls. Kids will be in their element in the wonky playhouse, the book adds.
The Garden Barn, Cotesbach, off the M1. Junction – 20. Driving time from the junction – 2 minutes
The Garden Barn has a quirky cafe, shop and gift emporium and is just a two-minute drive from junction 20 on the M1
The cafe at The Garden Barn, where the menu includes luxury milkshakes, homemade cakes and paninis made with artisan bread
A garden shop, gift emporium and curio-filled, log burner-warmed café make up The Garden Barn.
The café menu includes luxury milkshakes, homemade cakes and paninis made with artisan bread.
The Extra Mile says: ‘The paninis are particularly popular, served with thoughtful extras like hummus and crudites or a handful of pistachios.’
It adds: ‘It has an unrivalled collection of Victorian chimney pots, should you need one.’
Wellington Farm Shop, Heckfield, Berkshire, off the M4. Junction – 11. Driving time from the junction – 8 minutes
Wellington Farm Shop offers drivers an opportunity to take a break from travelling up the M4 on the leg between Slough and Swindon
Wellington Farm shop sells everything from locally grown vegetables and Wellington estate honey to sauces and preserves
According to The Extra Mile, Wellington Farm Shop ‘sells all the best produce from the local area, including locally farmed vegetables, honey from the Wellington estate’s hives, and Hereford beef from the fields in season’.
The cafe, meanwhile, serves both hot and cold dishes that change according to the season.
A special festive menu is served at Christmas time featuring dishes such as traditional Christmas turkey and venison and port pie. The book adds: ‘If you’re in a hurry, the takeaway menu is more than a cut above.’
The Medicine Garden, Cobham, Surrey, off the M25. Junction – 10. Driving time from the junction – 6 minutes
The Medicine Garden is a restored walled garden in Surrey with garden design areas dedicated to eight individual concepts including stillness and vitality
The menu at The Medicine Garden Cafe includes what The Extra Mile calls ‘very good cakes’ as well as savoury dishes like jacket potatoes and sandwiches
The Medicine Garden is a restored walled garden in Surrey with garden design areas dedicated to eight individual concepts – courage, vitality, wonder, rhythm, inspiration, stillness, nourishment and story.
There’s a ‘comfortable’ shabby chic café set inside a former potting shed on-site that serves dishes like jacket potatoes, sandwiches and ‘very good cakes’.
Two Magpies Bakery, Darsham, Suffolk, off the A12. Junction – Darsham. Driving time from the junction – 0 minutes, it’s on the junction
Pictured is the counter at Two Magpies Bakery, where everything from pastries and flapjacks to chocolate-filled doughnuts and ‘cuffins’ are sold
This recently opened Darsham bakery and café is one of three Two Magpies sites.
According to The Extra Mile, ‘the counter at Two Magpies is heaped with irresistible goodies, enough to satisfy even the most ardent car munchies’.
Options include sausage rolls, cinnamon swirls and seasonal cakes, such as clementine loaf cakes in winter.
Pip’s Railway Carriage Café, Lopenhead, Somerset, off the A303. Junction – South Petherton. Driving time from the junction – 1 minute
A refurbished 1880s railway carriage is one of the areas where customers at Pip’s Railway Carriage Cafe can eat. Other areas include a double-decker bus and a marquee
Pictured is a selection of the food, including olives, salads, toasted sandwiches and fresh cakes, on offer at Pip’s, where the menu changes regularly, depending on what’s in season
Pip’s Railway Carriage Café is contained inside an 1880s railway carriage and an old double-decker bus.
Menus change regularly depending on what’s in season but you can expect dishes like The Carriage Picnic and Pip’s Farm Salad to feature alongside options like cheese toasty Jenga for children.
The Extra Mile is unequivocal: ‘You won’t find a quirkier place for a bite.’
The Plume of Feathers, Newquay, off the A30. Junction – Mitchell. Driving time from the junction – 2 minutes
The Plume of Feathers is a 16th-century inn with a traditional beamed area with open fires and a modern conservatory section
The menu at The Plume of Feathers changes regularly but usually includes steaks served with triple-cooked chips and roasted beef
The Plume of Feathers is a 16th-century inn that, The Extra Mile says, ‘melds old-world charm with a spectacular glass-roofed extension’.
Former MasterChef contestant Nat Tallents heads up the kitchen where dishes like Cornish lamb with dauphinois potatoes and locally caught rainbow trout are cooked up. For dessert, there’s rhubarb ice cream, sourced from a neighbouring farm.
And don’t forget to pick up a jar of honey, made in the pubs own beehives.
The Extra Mile’s verdict? ‘A belting pit stop.’
The Yurt at Nicholsons, North Aston, Oxfordshire, off the M40. Junction – 10. Driving time from the junction – 11 minutes
As the name suggests, The Yurt at Nicholsons is a cafe inside a (Mongolian-style) yurt. It has a fleece lining that keeps it warm in winter
Pictured is a shelf of ingredients and condiments. The hot chocolate at The Yurt at Nicholsons is made with Mexican cocoa
Set inside a Mongolian yurt surrounded by the greenery of a tree nursery, this café is lit by fairy lights in winter and lined with a fleece that keeps it warm in the colder months.
The menu at The Yurt is locally sourced and includes dishes like cheese scones with olive tapenade and butter, and smoked salmon and blood orange salad, as well as drinks like hot chocolate made from Mexican cocoa.
The Extra Mile says: ‘Try mushrooms served on potato rosti for breakfast, pan-fried spiced mackerel with beetroot salsa for lunch, or confit duck leg with red cabbage puree.’
Three Choirs Vineyard, Newent, Gloucestershire, off the M50. Junction – 3. Driving time from the junction – 10 minutes
Three Choirs Vineyard where, according to The Extra Mile, the scenery is frequently likened to that of the Napa Valley in California
Pictured is a range of wines available at Three Choirs Vineyard and a selection of olives, nuts and crisps. Designated drivers will have to stick to the soft stuff
According to The Extra Mile, the views at Three Choirs Vineyard are ‘frequently likened to the Napa Valley’.
The on-site restaurant features open fires and soft sofas and highlights of the menu include a Forest of Dean inspired charcuterie board that features locally-sourced wild boar salami.
The book adds: ‘Take time to walk the footpaths that lace the vineyard before you go, or take a tour and pick up a bottle in the shop to uncork at your destination.’
The Woodworks Garden Centre, Mold, Flintshire, off the A55. Junction – 33B. Driving time from the junction – 10 minutes
The Woodworks Garden Centre began life as a pallet manufacturing centre and timber yard and is now a family-run garden centre with an on-site cafe
Sawday’s: The Extra Mile is on sale now in all good bookshops and online at www.theextramile.guide, priced at £14.99
The Woodworks began life as a pallet manufacturing centre and timber yard and is now a family-run garden centre.
In the on-site café, there’s furniture made of chunky wood and a special traditional festive menu is served alongside the usual offering of soups, sandwiches and afternoon teas at Christmas.
Visitors who still need to pick up a few gifts before they get home for Christmas can browse both the gift shop and the Garden Emporium.
The gift shop sells children’s toys, purses, infusers, scarves and jewellery.
The Garden Emporium, meanwhile, sells items from fire pits to plant pots and seeds.
The new edition of Sawday’s: The Extra Mile is on sale now, available in all good bookshops and online at www.theextramile.guide, priced at £14.99.
For further ideas on great places to take a break for a bite to eat take a look at The AA Restaurant Guide 2020. Alternatively, for a Christmas treat, take a look between the covers of The Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland 2020. It contains more than 2,200 restaurant recommendations.