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Killington Lake services

Location:

M6 southbound between J36 and J37

Signposted from the road.

Postcode:

LA8 0NW

map and directions

Access/Layout:

Single site located between junctions on one side of the motorway.

Rating: See the reviews


Killington Lake takes its name from Killington Reservoir, and on the right day this offers a view which could more than make up for any complaint you may have about your journey.

Facilities

Catering: Costa Coffee, McDonald's, The Phat Pasty Co. (seasonal opening), Costa Express, Krispy Kreme Shops: WHSmith Amenities: Days Inn, Jackpot £500, Showers Outdoor Space: Large grass area around building; lakeside views; Picnic Area Charging Points: GRIDSERVE Electric Highway 50kW CCS, 50kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2 Forecourt: BP, Shop, Wild Bean Café, Air1 AdBlue

Parking Prices

First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £13 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £24, or £26 to include a £10 food voucher.

Prices are paid using NexusPay or in the shop. The location code is 2058.

The fees are strictly enforced by GroupNexus.

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

Contact Details

🏢 Address:
Road Chef Motorways Ltd
M6
Killington
Kendal
Cumbria
LA8 0NW

🌍 Operators & Official Websites:


Trivia and History

Killington Lake 1971.jpg
The forecourt upon opening, with the original building just visible behind the shelter.

Camera icon

Services opened by BP 1972
Building re-built by Roadchef 1985

A study in 1994 concluded that the M6 here was the quietest motorway in England to have a motorway service area. Even today, it is much calmer than many other English motorway service areas.

Planning

See also: M6 Service Area Planning

There are two reasons why Killington Lake is on the southbound side only. Firstly, it made it cheaper to build, which they hoped would make it more attractive to reluctant investors. Partly connected to that, the Ministry of Transport wanted Cumbria's service areas to stand out for their fantastic scenery, and at Killington the best views were on the southbound side.

Despite this, the initial tender process received no bids at all. As a trial the new tender only required one brand of fuel to be sold, and allowed the service area to be developed in two stages, under a 21-year lease. BP were the only firm to reply, and they won the contract. At the time BP had a joint marketing venture with Shell-Mex, who were sometimes credited as the operator. The two partnered with the brand-new Roadchef, who provided the catering.

During planning, the service area was only called 'Killington'. A separate plan to extend the reservoir here looked set to block the services proposal, but eventually the two went alongside and Killington Lake gained its distinctive facility.

The service area is separated from the motorway by a man-made cutting, the land for which presumably came from the M6's construction. It was dubbed the "Britain's first hide and seek service station", because it had been deliberately landscaped to be as hidden as possible from the motorway.

In the 1970s and 1980s, documents referred to a new service area being held in reserve on the M6 at Hutton and Eskrigg. Both of these names take us to places near to Killington Reservoir, which suggests that this was a plan to build a northbound service area here.

Building and Site Design

To take advantage of the views available at this location, this became one of the first sites where the amenity building was built as far away from the motorway as possible - something which is now similar to the standard practice. There was a lot of buzz around the location, which was expected to create the most beautiful service area in the country.

Howard V Lobb & Partners designed a small building which was positioned close to the forecourt (near where the hotel is today), overlooking the lake, with a walkway back to the car park. This amenity building was designed to look like "a traditional Lake District farmstead", with yellow grey limestone walls and Westmorland green slate on the roof. Inside the café had large windows and was themed like a mountain hut with Alpine décor. An open section of the restaurant was reserved for a future picnic area, which "took full advantage of the site".

"Superbly positioned, but far too small"
Bev Nutt, Bartlett School of Architecture, 1974

The opening documents were signed on 30 March 1972, over a year after the motorway had already opened. An opening ceremony was held on 17 May 1972, during which BP commented that the building may be too small and may have to be expanded very soon. Parking was provided for 64 cars and 13 HGVs.

Egon Ronay rated the building as "poor" in his 1977 visit. He said it was pleasant to sit in, but "really very small", "painfully inadequate", "cramped", and its menu suffered from "such a lack of imagination". A 1978 government review described the services as "cheap, small and scruffy".

The plan had always been that a second phase would open in 1978. It was decided this would be built under a renegotiated tender, but plans for another southbound service area at Tebay caused the Killington expansion to be postponed. There had been talk of adding a yachting quay, but that was soon forgotten.

Eventually a new building opened in 1985, and this one was more in keeping with Roadchef's usual architecture, but adapted with large windows at the back to take advantage of the view. The lobby area had Scandinavian-style wooden slats and the restaurant area had local-style stone. It was still relatively small, with a shop at the front-left, toilets at the front-right, and a single cafeteria at the back. The old building was demolished.

The service area would get very busy during the holiday season, especially with caravans. In 1986, Which? magazine describe it as "the most attractive" service area, calling it "spotless" and "relaxing". The food was still criticised.

The hotel was built in around 1994, and a tourist information centre was converted from a workshop in 1997.

Refurbishment

The view across Killington Reservoir, with a picnic table in the foreground.
The view from the back of the service area.

Despite several rearrangements, the quiet Killington has so far escaped any major refurbishments since its reconstruction.

In March 2014, Restbite and The Burger Company were merged to create McDonald's. This and the adjacent Costa now make up the entirety of the food options at this service area.

The filling station here was refurbished in summer 2018.

In June 2019, Roadchef were granted planning permission to significantly expand the amenity building in all directions. A new front lobby would lead past two new retail stores (most likely including SPAR), as well as WHSmith and the game arcade. Costa would be moved to create a larger seating area, with large windows overlooking the reservoir.

Alternatives

Previous:Next:
Burton-in-Kendal (M6 northbound, 13 miles)
Carnforth truckstop (15 miles)
Lancaster (26 miles)
Services on the M6Tebay (11 miles)
none nearbyRoadchef servicesnone nearby

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