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Gretna services


A74(M) between J21 and J22

Signposted from the road.


DG16 5HQ

map and directions


Single site located between junctions with access to both sides.

Rating: See the reviews

Formerly and idyllically known as Gretna Green, this is the first service area you'll pass as you head in to Scotland on the A74(M).


Catering: Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, The Good Breakfast, f'real Milkshakes, Jolly Rancher Slush, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks on the Go Shops: Canny Scot Shop, Waitrose & Partners, WHSmith Amenities: Days Inn, Game Zone, Revolution Laundry, Showers Outdoor Space: Grass lawn and picnic tables by coach park (right of building) Charging Points: Applegreen Electric 150kW CCS; GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 50kW CCS, 50kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2; IONITY 350kW CCS; Tesla Supercharger 150kW CCS Forecourt: BP, Londis, Costa Express, Dunkin' Donuts, f'real Milkshakes, Rollover, Tango Ice Blast, Free Cash Machine

Parking Prices

First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £15 for a further 24 hours and HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £30 (or £32 to include a £12 meal voucher).

Prices can be paid in the shop, with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.

Contact Details

🏢 Address:
Welcome Break
Gretna Service Area
Dumfries & Galloway
DG16 5HQ

Trivia and History

Gretna entrance 2019.jpg
One of the two entrances, with blue doors, Starbucks on the left, and Burger King on the right.

Camera icon

Opened by Forte's Little Chef 1972
Re-built and re-branded as Welcome Break 1993
Renamed from Gretna Green 2010

The service area has open access to the B7076. This and the road layout in the area means that it is often treated as an unofficial junction for local road users. It's a hangover from the original road layout on the A74.

The correct number for the road that Gretna is on - A74(M) - is rather fiddly and has never really caught on. Most resources, including Welcome Break's official website, will usually say that Gretna is on the "M74" or "A74". Road signs within the service area used to direct traffic back to the "M74", and one of the official motorway signs still calls it that.

During April 2017, the filling station was sold by BP Express to MRH. MRH later merged with MFG who added a Londis store and four IONITY electric vehicle charging points in 2020.

Pre-Motorway History

Originally Gretna was a pair of petrol stations staggered across the A74. The southbound petrol station was a simple design with a flat roof, while the northbound petrol station was an older design with a pointed roof.

A flyover was built between them. The approach roads wrapped around the southbound forecourt, and the bridge took you to the back of the northbound complex. It also provided access to Springfield and the nearby farmhouses.

Forte invested heavily in the northbound side, providing a large Little ChefHistory and The Granary restaurant across two old-style brick buildings. There was a large car park and the country's first Little Chef Lodge.

The hotel was rebuilt in 1985, where it was used to help relaunch the Little Chef Lodge brand. A further launch event was held on 29 January 1987, where the Scottish Tourist Board chairman Alan Devereux arrived on an ancient Stagecoach, with officials from Forte and local schoolchildren. The hotel became a Travelodge in 1989.

This section of the A74 was replaced by a motorway in 1992. The southbound forecourt needed to be demolished, as did the flyover, so a new junction was built to provide access to the remaining facilities. However it was too small, of an outdated design, and not suitable for a motorway, so the opportunity was taken to demolish most of the existing complex, including one of the farmhouses.

Across a larger 26 acre plot, a new amenity building and parking areas were built. The hotel was retained, and a new forecourt was built at the top of the hill (behind the hotel). It's possible that a small part of the old junction was retained in the road into the new service area, and the old northbound entrance could be made out in the trees past the building for a while. Developing a large motorway site here should have meant that nearby Todhills (also managed by Forte at the time), although this turned out not to happen.

During construction, the remains of a 3000-year-old settlement was discovered, with it partially overlapping with the intended site of the new slip roads. BP and Welcome Break sponsored the excavation and investigation into the site.

The service area was officially opened on 16 June 1993 - one day before fellow A74(M) Welcome Break at Abington opened. A time capsule was buried on site as part of the ceremony. New motorway service area road signs were provided with a large gap, which was adjusted to say "Accomm. and services". Some sources called the new facility 'Gretna', but publicity continued to call it by its full name for some time.

Due to the site's history, the forecourt at the new service area was branded BP and not managed by Forte/Welcome Break, who would normally operate a Shell when building a large service area from scratch. As a result, when Granada were forced to sell Welcome Break's sites in 1997, Gretna Green was classed as a Forte service area and not a Welcome Break one, and it wasn't included in the sale by default. Granada were given the choice of either transferring it to Welcome Break, or keeping it and paying the new Welcome Break £14million instead. As they already owned two nearby service areas, Granada opted not to pay for Gretna Green.

New Building

Signs saying Eat In, across a restaurant entrance.
The former restaurant area, under EAT IN branding in 2012.

The main amenity building has units built in a courtyard around a Burger King (previously Julie's Pantry) in the centre, with two glass roofs following the main walking paths around the building. This creates a site much larger and airier than nearby Abington.

A key publicised feature of the new service area upon its opening was a tourist information centre branded "Gateway to Scotland". £400,000 was invested in the centre, and on some initial advertising, the whole service area was promoted as the "Gateway to Scotland services" in reference to the facility. The centre closed in 1998.

The Scottish gateway theme continued in the décor of the new building - like most Welcome Break service areas, David Fisher was commissioned to paint a mural for the service area. Here at Gretna, his artwork was themed around Scotland, and it was displayed all around the back wall. It has since been painted over.

Another facility originally at the new service area was the Gretna Green Business Bureau. This was a centre aimed at travelling business people, and it featured two conference suites as well as individual workstations for people working on the move.

In the 1990s, Welcome Break wanted each of their service areas to have a unique shop. At Gretna, this was the Canny Scot Shop, and it still survives long after all the others closed, taking advantage of local tourism.

The service area has lengthy access roads, designed to provide relaxation by looking like an upmarket country retreat. The car park was equipped with mock-historic lamp posts, with a round bowl at the top of a short post, like you might find in a hotel or restaurant of the same era. Unusually, these extend all the way along the slip road to the motorway. Posts like these normally light up a car park or pedestrian walkway, but at Gretna they're used to light a road with a 70mph speed limit.

Although the front of the service area building has been refurbished many times, the interior doors are still in their original blue-and-yellow colour scheme.

Further Changes

Space was left around the hotel building for the car park to be expanded, which was used in the early 2010s. As a result, the car park is now in two distinct halves, with the circulatory road running through the middle of it.

The WHSmith store was expanded to take in some of the EAT IN dining space. This was returned to the restaurant when it became Harry Ramsden's branded. The Harry Ramsden's closed in August 2022, trading on as Welcome Break's breakfast brand, The Good Breakfast. The WHSmith store received another refurbishment in Summer 2023, stealing another section of the former restaurant dining space.

Twelve Applegreen Electric charging points were added to the car park in early 2023, adding a fourth charging option for electric vehicle owners here.


Annandale Water (23 miles)Services on the A74(M)Todhills (M6, 6 miles)
Southwaite (M6, 21 miles)
Abington (49 miles)Welcome Break servicesnone nearby

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