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Most motorway services are bland stops for fluorescent lights, gas stations and fast food. But in Cumbria’s Lake District, Tebay Services is a destination in itself: more than four million people visit each year.

Farm Shops Serving Tebay, Cumbria © Peter Asprey

Opened on the M6 ​​northbound carriageway in 1972, I miss you It was the first – and still is the only – independently owned, farmer run service in the UK. Nestled among the rolling hills of Sharp, the building is a departure from the traditional boxy, prefabricated motorway stop structures, constructed from local stone and slate. Outside is a lake populated by ducks and swans, and there’s a coffee cart in the parking lot serving hand-brewed coffee. Sarah Dunning, Tebay’s chairwoman and second-generation owner, describes it as “an oasis of escapism where you never hear the highway again”. On the way to other places, “clients feel like they’ve arrived somewhere”.

Jams and Chutneys provided by Mr Vikki’s in Penrith © Peter Asprey
Pie Mill made with meat from Tebay Farm © Peter Asprey

The vibe inside continues: there are no chains here. Instead, travelers pass “proper food’ – Think homemade shepherd’s pie, buns stuffed with locally grown bacon and Sunday roasts. Whole racks of lamb from the butcher’s counter, Cumbria-style Camembert from the cheese shop, and local Cupboard purchases include dried spelled pasta, jams and banana chutney from Mr Vikki’s in Penrith (perfect spread on ham sandwiches). The shop also sells candles (Fellside), hand-carved cutting boards ( Hampson Woods) and nearby makers.

The idea for Tebay was born when the Department of Transport announced plans to build the M6 ​​and issued a compulsory purchase order for most of Dunning’s parents’ farmland. Back then, gas stations were run by oil companies, which would bid for the site: nobody wanted Tebe. “I think they all looked at Sharpfield and thought, ‘This place has no future,'” Dunning said with a laugh. “My parents saw an opportunity that was really on their doorstep.” After winning the bid to operate the location, they teamed up with Birketts, a local bakery with the requisite hospitality experience, to open a gas station with a small café.

Tebay Chairman Sarah Dunning (right) with her sister Jane Lane © Peter Asprey

In 1992, the southbound station was completed and today Tebay employs around 400 people. Meanwhile, the remaining farmland was run by Dunning’s sister Jane, and most of the sheep were supplied to Tebe for the cafe and butcher shop. Sheepskins were made into rugs and footstools and sold in shops. “Most butchers just buy cuts of meat they know will sell, but we have to be innovative and make the most of every part of the animal. The sheepskin is really our emblem,” says Dunning, who sources much of the service from its on-site garden product.

Beef cubes on the counter in a butcher shop
Tebay’s lifestyle precinct with approximately 80 producers within 30 miles of the station © Peter Asprey

The lifestyle section is imbued with a similar spirit. Working with around 80 producers within a 30-mile radius, Tebay offers colorful ‘Westmorland’ socks made from farm sheep wool, bespoke sherpa knitwear from Harley, Scotland, Anglepoise lamps in limited colours, and Hat and bag from Molly Sellars of Kendal, who recycles fabric from abandoned tents.

traveler Tend to dawdle at Tebay. “A lot of people include us in their journey; they celebrate by getting up early and having a bacon and eggs breakfast here,” Dunning said. “From the beginning, my parents built a local business with people at its core. Tebay is a community. People want to experience that more than ever.” Stop by the lake and smell the coffee .

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