Extra special stop-offs on your way to the South West
Brunch stops and brisk walks
We understand that the drive can be the most arduous part of any holiday to the South West, so we’ve handpicked a few of our favourite places to pause and take a break. Perfect for those travelling with children or pets, regular stop-offs are essential for the whole family to take a breather, stretch your legs and rejuvenate for the rest of the journey.
From farm shops and charming parks to the all-important coffee hit, we’ve shared a few must-visit destinations to pin to your map and factor in along the way.
Tire out little legs at Darts Farm
© Darts Farm
Topsham, Exeter, Devon EX3 0QH | Get there: M5, Exit Junction 30
“I have seen the future of food shopping and it’s not in London, Manchester or Edinburgh but on a road that runs alongside the Exe Estuary in Devon” – Nick Wyke, The Times
Supporters of local food and drink will love the award-winning Darts Farm. Stocking a rich selection of artisan delicacies and tempting gifts, every product is of the highest quality. If you’re feeling a little peckish, the restaurant is lovely for sampling a taste of the West Country, with Devonshire cream teas, charcuterie boards and gourmet sandwiches.
Little adventurers will love wearing themselves out on the assault course and fireman’s leap: a sure-fire way to ensure a backseat nap is in order. Plus, in true October half term spirit, pop over to the Darts Farm pumpkin patch to pick your favourite before the family carving competition commences at your holiday home.
Brunch time At The Chapel
© At the Chapel
28 High St, Bruton, BA10 0AE | Get there: A359 (just off the A303)
Housed within a Grade II Listed former chapel, At The Chapel is an all-day restaurant that pairs classic British dishes with a distinct Mediterranean twist. Stylish and minimal in character, you can sink into the velvet olive chairs or set up base on the sun-drenched terrace. No matter where you are, you’re sure to experience a sublime dining experience come rain or shine.
Whether you’re freshening up with a raw breakfast juice, filling a gap with a wood-fire sourdough pizza or tucking into a crispy salad to tide you over, there’s something for every palette (including a virgin mocktail menu for the designated driver). Before setting off, make sure to grab an indulgent sweet treat from the takeaway bakery.
Let pooches run wild at Basildon Park
© Mike Reid via Flickr
Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 9NR | Get there: M4 exit 12
Basildon Park, home to beautiful views, picturesque trails and ample picnic spots. Rescued in the 1950s by Lord and Lady Iliffe, this cherished estate was saved from near demolition. Often recognised as one of Downton Abbey’s filming locations, avid watchers may otherwise know this mansion as ‘Grantham House’.
Now a lovingly revived National Trust site, little ones and furry friends will love having 400 acres of parkland at their fingertips. Meanwhile, adults can warm chilly hands with a frothy hot chocolate from the outdoor food outlet.
Fill the holiday pantry with a trip to Lifton Farm Shop
Fore St, Lifton, PL16 0DE | Get there: A30 via the A388
Once a dedicated pick-your-own strawberry field, Lifton Farm Shop has continued to grow over the past 20 years into a farm, shop and restaurant. A firm favourite for both locals and visitors, the on-site fruit and vegetable harvest stocks the larder, while rows of luscious berries fill endless baskets during the summer months.
Greeted by the heart-warming smell of freshly baked bread, flit between the bakery, butchery and deli to pick up local pantry essentials for eating in when you arrive. And if you can’t resist the urge to start your festive shopping early, make sure to browse the giftware section to find a special holiday keepsake.
Refresh with a coffee stop at Gloucester Services
Brookthorpe, Gloucester, GL4 0DN | Get there: M5 between junction 12 and 11a
If only all service stations could be as wholesome as this one. Gloucester Services is completely unique and free from commercial franchises, making it stand out from the rest. As such, the ethos is simple and keeps home-cooked produce at its heart. From handmade Christmas puddings to creamy local cheeses, enjoy a slice of foodie heaven.
Most-loved for being the UK’s first family-run motorway services, Gloucester embodies ‘a sense of belonging.’ In doing so, this establishment showcases over 130 regional producers and suppliers to shine a light on the area’s finest food and drink.
A fleeting visit to the New Forest
Hightown NT car park, Hightown Hill, BH24 3HH | Get there: A31
For those looking to opt for a more scenic route, there’s no better place to stop off for a quick jaunt than the gorgeous New Forest. Just off the A31 you can find the New Forest’s smallest heathland site, Hightown, which brings grazed lawns, dark ancient woods and hidden wetlands.
All to be discovered in just under 30 minutes, enjoy a quick excursion with the whole family before hopping back in the car for the final stretch of your journey to the South West.
Each of these recommendations are operating a little differently at the moment. Please visit each individual website for updated procedures, opening hours and pre-booking advice.