M8 is road to nowhere for foodies, says guide

Hugh Cantlie, author of Near The Motorways, said that none of the places he visited near the M8 met all of his guide's criteria. Photograph: Robert Perry
Hugh Cantlie, author of Near The Motorways, said that none of the places he visited near the M8 met all of his guide's criteria. Photograph: Robert Perry
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A GUIDEBOOK offering hungry drivers alternatives to motorway service station food stops has failed to find a single recommendation for Scotland’s busiest road.

Hugh Cantlie, author of Near The Motorways, said he had given up looking for places to eat near the M8 after several fruitless searches.

The latest edition of his guide, which has sold more than 50,000 copies, also criticises Scots for having “forgotten the art of hospitality to the passing traveller”.

Cantlie, who personally checked the book’s 200 entries, said a previous edition had included the Bridge Inn at Ratho, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, for an M8 entry, but it was subsequently ditched “because no-one could find it”.

He said none of the other places he had visited near the motorway had met his criteria, which includes a friendly and pleasant atmosphere, being “moderately” easy to find and within five minutes’ drive.

He said of the establishments, which he declined to name: “They were not very welcoming and staff looked at you in a strange way.”

By contrast, the guide, whose 11th edition has just been published, includes recommendations for other Scottish motorways, including the M9, M90 and M74.

Cantlie said he thought the lack of suitable places to stop near the M8 might be because the motorway, along with 
others in central Scotland, did not follow the old coaching routes.

He said he had not visited the M8’s sole service station, the Heart of Scotland services at Harthill, but had a low opinion of them in general.

He said: “They keep getting taken over by yet another large firm, which makes an effort to start with, before the service sinks again. They have become shopping malls and are not a very relaxing experience.”

The guide, first published in 2001, has a poor verdict overall of catering near motorways north of the Border. It said: “Scotland does extend a warm welcome to visitors and even Sassenachs, but the motorway user gets the impression that the Scots have forgotten the art of hospitality to the passing traveller.

“There are some excellent exceptions to the rule, but there were a lot of places which could not be included.”

On the M74, the book found there was “almost nowhere south of Glasgow where you can stop to find a decent meal”.

However, Brodies restaurant and wine bar in Moffat was described as “bright, clean and bustling” with “delicious looking afternoon teas”.

Among the establishments praised near the M90 is the “efficient, well-run” Bein Inn at Glenfarg, which has a “good reputation for food” and “cheerful atmosphere”.

Neil Greig , of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Drivers travelling the full length of the M8 will only leave if they feel it’s worth their while, so it’s up to local restaurants, shops and garden centres to make themselves must-stop destinations.”