Cartgate picnic area
Technically this is only a picnic area, but it is officially endorsed in the sense that it's designed and run directly by England's National Highway Authority. It used to offer just parking for a number of vehicles with a wooded picnic area in the centre, where tourist information and a daytime-only toilet block could be found.
This picnic area shouldn't be confused with the official service area at Cartgate Garage, barely a mile to the west.
Catering: Cartgate Lodge Café Amenities: Toilets, Tourist Information Centre Outdoor Space: Large wooded picnic area with plenty of grass space
Short stay free parking is available for all vehicles.
No overnight parking is available.
This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.
Cartgate Picnic Centre
Trivia and History
When the A3088 was built in the 1980s, a roundabout was built at Cartgate which included an additional exit for some-sort of facility. Eventually the Highways Agency built this picnic area there, which makes up for the lack of parking spaces at existing service areas along the A303. It opened around the time that the A303 was upgraded to a dual carriageway in the 1990s.
The Highways Agency (now called National Highways) tended to avoid building places like this because it has little in common with their biggest responsibility that is maintaining motorways. A tourist information centre was added to the site in 2002, operated by South Somerset Council.
Catering facilities were originally provided in a portable building but this was replaced in 2011 with a log cabin, which gave what was then called Highways England a reliable on-the-ground contact. These catering facilities are now the only parts of the land that National Highways don't own.
While the picnic area is now officially treated like a 'tourist attraction' for regulatory and signage purposes, there is still a pair of A-road green service area-style signs at the entrance. They are almost lost to the trees, and as of 2022 still carry the old Highways Agency logo.
There have been several plans to turn the site into a full service area, including a proposal from Margram in 1989 which included a restaurant and hotel in this area, but the address points to a lane to the north. By 2003 this proposal had become one for a BP Truckstop, which would have been positioned next to the picnic area and accessed from it.
|Townsend (eastbound, 1 mile)
Podimore (5 miles)
|Services on the A303
|Cartgate Garage (westbound, ½ mile)
Ilminster (10 miles)
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