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Quite Remarkable Service Stations of the Nation - Rheged Centre

Name Rheged Centre
Road M6
Near to Penrith
Operator Westmorland

Rheged is sure to be a controversial choice in our series since some might contend, with a fair degree of accuracy, that it is not a service station at all, but a convention centre-cum-tourist attraction.

However, this palace is certainly signposted as ‘Services’ on the approach from Penrith. Although the sign may only refer to the petrol station that has been tacked on the side of the place, that’s good enough for us.

Named after the Brythonic kingdom of post-Roman Britain, Rheged has the feel of an eco-friendly university campus, or the Dartford Town stadium. It’s all exposed steel, glass walls. The roof is made of grass and is the largest in Europe (who the hell measures these things?). The liberal use of timber and granite hewn from local quarries provides the finishing touches to this palace of discovery and wonderment.

Food is served in the restaurant, and there’s no slumming it with the great unwashed at a long cafeteria queue either. Rheged proudly boasts at-seat service; the food is roughly the same as that served at Westmorland’s Tebay services, but better. The chips are beer-battered slabs of fried potato and home-made pizzas that surpass anything Pizza Express have ever produced.

Indeed, it’s more a question of what this place doesn’t feature. There’s a Cumbrian museum with a funky 3D map thing, a two-screen cinema, a deli selling everything from locally produced Cumberland sausage to bottled Sam Smiths ale and several shops selling hiking gear, books, toys.

There’s a water feature so substantial they’ve had to stick a ‘DANGER! DEEP WATER!’ warning on it – inside the restaurant. There’s even a lift shaft disguised as a castle. This place has absolutely everything.

Related Links
Rheged Centre website

Others in the series
Index | Tebay | Keele | Leicester Forest East

Have you got a particular favourite service station you’d like to see feature on these pages? Then e-mail impsTALK with ‘YES! I’VE PAID £58.99 FOR A DEEP FILL EGG AND BACON GINSTERS SANDWICH TOO!’ in the subject line, and we’ll either follow it up or ignore you and pretend your e-mail ended up in our spam filter in ‘error’.

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