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Published on October 28th, 2013 | by Nottingham Drinker



Colin Elmhirst considers M5 Service Station alternatives – from the comfort of the passenger seat

Over many years our trips to and from Devon and Cornwall has usually meant that a lunchtime break has coincided with being near to Michael Wood or Gordano services on the M5. If you are lucky, like me this year, to have a driver happy to be teetotal, then here are some pleasing alternative suggestions. But please do not drink and drive.

Exiting the motorway at junction 13 southbound, or 14 northbound, leads via the A38 and A4135 to the village of Dursley and the Old Spot Inn GL11 4JQ which has won many awards, including CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year 2007. Dating from 1776 this friendly free house offers a range of beers including Old Ric, named after the pubs previous owner Ric Sainty, who passed away in July 2008, and is brewed by Uley. Another special beer being sold was the Rev Janet commemorating her retirement from the nearby St James’ church. There are usually eight real ales available mainly from local breweries, along with a good range of food lunchtimes only.

To the south of Dursley is the village of Thornbury, also nestling by the A38, where the Anchor Inn BS35 1JY can be found by leaving the motorway at J14 southbound and J16 northbound. Although dating back to 1695 it is the second oldest pub in the village. Home to the local CAMRA branch and winner of a number of floral competitions this well-kept public house offers a choice of five real ales and one real cider. On my visit this was Ashton Still Black Rat from Long Ashton, a subsidiary of Butcombe Brewery. Food is available lunchtime and evenings until 9pm. We ate here on our way south and I had an excellent meal of rainbow trout.

Just south of Bristol if you come off at J21 and head for Portishead on the A369, then the modern looking Windmill Inn BS20 6JZ sits on a high point giving views over the Severn Estuary to the south Wales coast. The main entrance leads to the higher of two levels, both with huge window areas giving the panoramic views. Not surprisingly this was a very popular pub with an all-day food menu complimenting beers from Butcombe (Bitter and Gold), Courage Best and Bass.

All the above inns were dog friendly, in at least one area of the pub, and after the recent fuss about Wetherspoon’s building a pub just off the M40 motorway at Beaconsfield, it was nice to see that there are some thriving inns not far from these modern arteries of travel.

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