Top places to stop on your way to Cornwall and the South West
Driving down to your staycation (or escaping Cornwall and heading up country) and need somewhere to have lunch, walk the dog, let the kids run or even take a nap? We've sniffed out the best places to stop near the south-west's major routes.
Skip the boring service stations and head instead straight to one of our Muddy picks. Plan your route round the main roads through Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall – the A303, A38 and A30.
We have included places to stop for food, kid friendly stops for the littles to stretch their legs, dog walks, pubs for lunch and dinner, places to break the journey overnight as well as farmshops and cafes. As ever, if we’ve missed off your favourite, let us know in the comments.
The Udder Farmshop, East Stour, off A303 near Gillingham (SP8 5LQ)
Breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas, Sunday roasts or just coffee and delicious cakes at The Udder Farm Shop, one of the biggest and best farm shops in Dorset, about 20 mins from the A303, down the A3081. The licensed cafe/restaurant has views across the Blackmore Vale and Duncliffe Woods, there’s seating inside and out and a kids’ play area. The farm shop is stonking, too. Open seven days a week.
The Grosvenor Arms, Shaftesbury, off A303 (SP7 8JA)
Stop off or stopover at The Grosvenor Arms in the historic hilltop town of Shaftesbury, about 20 mins off the A303, via the A350. There’s an elegant restaurant headed up by executive chef Tom Blake, formerly of River Cottage, a bar, cafe/pizzeria, conservatory and courtyard on the ground floor, with 16 boutique rooms (where dogs are welcome) above. Open every day.
The White Post, Rimpton, off the A303, off the Sparkford roundabout, near Yeovil (BA22 8AR)
This award-winning (Top 50 Gastropub) is literally on the Dorset/Somerset borders: you can sit at the bar and be drinking in Dorset while your companion is drinking in Somerset. Just 10 mins from the A303’s Sparkford roundabout, The White Post is a foodie pub where provenance is key, and chef Brett Sutton makes full use of the region’s bountiful produce. Open Thurs to Sundays for truly excellent lunches, Sunday roasts, dinners, takeaways – and, if the timing’s right, spectacular sunsets. Read our review.
The Kitchen at Kimbers and Kimbers’ Farmshop, Charlton Musgrove, off the A303, near Wincanton (BA9 8HD)
Super, super local, Modern British breakfasts, lunches, coffee and cakes at The Kitchen at Kimbers, a South Somerset cafe with South American colour at the family-run Kimbers’ Farmshop near Wincanton. Read our review. Open Tues to Sat 9.30am – 4pm. Pick up organic and locally produced supplies from the farm shop. Browse vintage stuff in the Trading Barn. If you’ve the time or inclination, internationally acclaimed art gallery Hauser & Wirth is 10 mins up the road.
Ham Hill Country Park, off the A303, near Yeovil ( TA14 6RW)
Let the kids run around this 390-acre country park on the site on an Iron Age hill fort and former hamstone quarry (the Houses of Parliament are fronted with hamstone). Lots of walks, scrambling over the old rock faces and Victorian spoil heaps with ice creams, drinks and hearty grub at The Prince of Wales, a former quarryman’s cottage.
Jordans Courtyard, Horton Cross, off the A303, near Ilminster (TA19 9PY)
Full cooked breakfasts, brunches, toasted sarnies, sourdough pizzas, salads, wraps, fresh pasta and indulgent puds with veggie and vegan options at the Kitchen at Jordans Couryard, with seating inside a converted barn and outside on the sunny terrace with parasols, just 3 mins from the A303. Read our review. Open 9am-2pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Need a last minute pressie? There’s West Country stuff in the Gift Barn. You could even fit in a manicure in the Nail Loft if you book ahead.
The Candelight Inn, Bishopswood, off the A30, near Chard (TA20 3RS)
Stop off for lunch or dinner at the 17th century pub The Candlelight Inn in the village of Bishopswood, deep down in one of the valleys of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, not far from the Devon/Somerset border and just a couple of minutes (literally) off the A30. Expect cut above pub classics with a twist, West Country steaks and modern British, local ales, ciders and their own gin – inside the cosy pub, in a marquee or out front. Read our review. If you feel like stretching your legs there’s a lovely 2-mile circular walk from the pub.
The Pig at Combe near Honiton, off A30 (EX14 3AD)
The Pig at Combe (pronounced coom) is a Grade 1 listed Elizabethan Manor, set in three and a half thousand acres of Devon’s Otter Valley with green fields and plump hillocks stretching to the horizon. Offers relaxed luxe in the country, child-friendly, food grown in their kitchen garden (read our review here).
Wildwood Escot, Ottery St Mary, off A38 near Honiton (EX11 1LU)
This is one if you have a car full of kids and want to let them let off steam for an hour or two, with falconry, maze and otters to feed, plus a zip wire and forests for walking.
The Orange Elephant Ice Cream Parlour, Kennford, off M5/A38 near Exeter (EX6 7TW)
Look out for the orange elephant on the side of the road, great ice-cream made on the Taverner farm and play area.
Cafe 3 Sixty – Bovey Tracey, off A38 (TQ13 9AZ)
New trendy velo-cafe, with kids play area, mezzanine for people watching, bike parking, pancakes/pizza/pasta/panini type food.
Riverford Field Kitchen, Buckfastleigh, off A38 (TQ11 0JU)
Book in for sharing menus, get to know the locals and find out the local knowledge, Meat-free Mondays, rest of week has meat – all Devon raised and grown on Guy Watson’s organic Riverford farm.
The road to Riverford takes you past the babbling River Dart and rolling Devon farmland, filled with chestnut-brown cows, crops and hedgerows. It’s all very bucolic, but just a few minutes’ drive from the Buckfastleigh turning on the A38 Devon Expressway. (Read our full review here)
Ilsington Country House Hotel, near Newton Abbot, off A38 (TQ13 9RR)
Relaxing country hotel with views too Haytor, and the added bonus of a fabulous city-style spa, good for walks on Dartmoor.
Dartmoor is known for its tors – monolithic granite outcrops – and you can ogle one of the most famous, Haytor, from the restaurant. Yet it’s only 4 miles through the winding hedgerows from the A38.
Tre, Pol & Pen, Launceston, off A30 (PL15 9NN)
Modern farm shop and kitchen with a deli and butchers on site too – stock up on your essentials as well as grabbing top quality local food to eat in or takeaway from the restaurant.
Woods Cafe, Cardinham Woods, Near Bodmin, off A30 (PL30 4AL)
In the ancient forests at Cardinham you’ll find Muddy fave, Woods Cafe. Operating take-away only at the mo, there’s a play park and miles of trails for walking (or cycling) with or without dogs and kids. Feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, actually within 10 mins of the A30 near Bodmin. (See also Lanhydrock if you’re a National Trust member, it’s just round the corner, and Respryn Bridge is another favourite for the dog walkers).
Da Bara Bakery, Indian Queens, off A30 (TR9 6FZ)
Da Bara opened a new cafe adjacent to their relocated bakery at the end of 2019, handily just off the A30 at Indian Queens business park. Don’t miss their very excellent cinnamon buns, as well as all kinds of sourdough bread, sausage rolls, cakes and general baked goodies, to eat in or take-away.
The Plume of Feathers, Mitchell, off A30 (TR8 5AX)
A great gastropub, nestled in the Cornish countryside, is a particularly exciting find, and this on is literally moments off the A30 (fun fact, it’s so close the A30 used to run straight through the village). Hearty but elegant dining away from the bustle, with a friendly local vibe and designer bedrooms, should you want to roll straight to bed after dinner.
Tehidy Country Park, North Cliffs off A30 near Camborne, TR14 0HA
Tehidy has over 9 miles of paths and 250 acres of peaceful woods and lakes to explore, together with a café and a picnic area. It’s also home to Muddy fave, the Rogue Theatre (above) who stage wild and wonderful family friendly theatre productions – time your journey right and your children will be entranced.