This isn’t a tip for one place – but rather for a whole host of them! There are many National Trust properties which are close to motorways or major routes. We have used many of them as midday stop-offs on long journeys. There is usually a refreshment room with a choice of freshly prepared food, and often an opportunity to stretch your legs exploring grounds or parkland (sometimes without an admission charge).
The property we have used most (as it was en route to visit one of our daughters) is Clumber Park, just off the A1 in Nottinghamshire. It really offers a much more civilised break than that offered by Blyth services, a few miles north on the A1M: lovely landscaped parklands and lake, a restaurant which uses food grown in the walled garden – even an opportunity to hire bicycles (if you really want to blow away the cobwebs). There is also the chance of a surprise – we once arrived on a Saturday to find a Georgian re-enactment in full swing.
Before planning a long journey we always take a look at the map on the Trust website to see if there’s a property close to our route. The disadvantage – well Trust properties aren’t open 24 hours, 7 days per week – though the restaurant at Clumber is open every day except December 25th from at least 10am to 4pm.
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