M4 Service Station Alternatives – Junctions 20 Bristol to 16 Swindon!
So this post is a follow up to one I wrote ages ago about alternatives to service stations and stop-offs along the M5. I don’t know about you but I get bored of the service stations. They are handy but they cost a fortune and they aren’t particularly interesting.
Today I share with you some of our favourite places to stop along the M4 motorway. The M4 runs from London to Wales. We typically travel along it from Bristol to the M25. Today I’m going to focus on junction 20 for the M5 up to junction 16 for Swindon. I’ll continue along the M4 corridor in another post to cover up to 4B for the M25. The places I feature can be accessed from either east or westbound.
M4 Junction 20 / M5 Junction 16
First up, let’s look at Junction 20. This is the M4/M5 interchange and if you’re heading south on the M5 and it happens to be a Friday, during the summer then good luck with that one.
Or any Friday for that matter. If you missed the Leigh Delamere services on the M4 and are desperate for a stop off then there are a few options.
If you’re heading south on the m5 then continue to do so but come off at the first junction, sign posted Filton and Bradley Stoke. There are a few places you can stop in Bradley Stoke.
Beware though that it gets very busy as there are a lot of commuters here who all seem to leave at the same time each day. Cue lots of traffic.
There’s a Toby Inn Carvery not far from the junction though and a Tesco Express. If you head to the Aztec West Business Park, you’ll find the Aztec Hotel and a Starbucks opposite. There’s a couple of nice lakes if you want to stretch your legs too.
A really lovely place to head for a bite to eat is The Bowl Inn pub in Almondsbury. Pop in the postcode BS32 4DT. The Bowl Inn is a traditional village pub, serving food, local ales and even offering accommodation. Definitely worth a stop here if you want something a bit different.
M4 Junction 19 – M32 into Bristol
Junction 19 takes you on to the M32. The M32 is typically busy, especially at peak hours and in the holidays. Avoid unless you’re heading into Bristol. Or unless you fancy stopping off at IKEA. I couldn’t think of anything worse but I’ve come across people who actually go there, on a Saturday…for FUN.
Junction 18 – Bath
Junction 18 takes you down to Bath, along the A46. I don’t suggest heading into Bath if you just want a quick stop-off. But if you head south on the A46, you come to Dyrham Park.
Dyrham Park is a National Trust spot, and, although we haven’t visited yet, I always hear good things. We literally just joined the NT so I want to use it as much as possible now.
If you do want to head into Bath then there is loads to do there. You could spend a full day. We love Victoria Park and you can read our review and take a nose at some of the pictures here. Perfect for little ones to burn off a load of energy.
Junction 17 – Chippenham
To be honest i’m not at all familiar with this junction. I need to stop here and have a nose to see what there is! We typically stop at Leigh Delamare services if we are desperate for a wee.
If you’ve missed them though, there is the Chippenham Pitstop just yards from the motorway, which boasts toilets and somewhere to grab food. Always handy with little ones.
If you have more time to spare then south of Chippenham is Lacock and here you’ll find Lacock Abbey. I think they filmed some of Harry Potter there. This is a National Trust site and about a 40 minute detour from the M4.
Junction 16 – Swindon
Now Junction 16 has a lot to offer and this is a junction we’ve stopped at many.
Greggs, Costa and Subway
Basically, just off the motorway you have a Costa, Greggs and Subway. They are literally two minutes from the junction. A few times b has told us he needs to pee and we’ve watered the bushes here, and picked up a few pasties and a coffee in Greggs.
If you want to spend longer though, I’d recommend having a little look at Lydiard Park. Now personally I haven’t been but it looks fab if you want to stretch your legs or enjoy a longer stop off. Pop SN5 3PA into the Sat Nav.
Parking is £2 for up to 2 hours and there is a huge children’s play area, cafe and tea rooms. Entry to the grounds is free but if you want to visit the house and walled gardens then you’ll need a ticket.
Studley Grange is a craft village and butterfly world. Entry to the craft village is free, but entry to butterfly world and the farm park is paid for. There is also a soft play and it looks like you pay separately for this.
If the weather is bad, and lets face it, this is the case in the UK often, then this would make a nice stop-off along the M4. Postcode for this one is SN4 9QT.
Swindon Designer Outlet
Housed in a listed building from the Great Western railway works, this designer outlet isn’t too bad as malls and shopping centres go. There is a little train you can take the kids on, and there are some play areas which are handy. There are plenty of places to eat, and everything is undercover. Perfect for a rainy stop off.
Pop SN2 2DY into the Sat Nav. Parking is paid for.
So there we go, a guide on where to stop, what to see and where to go between junctions 20 and 16 on the M4 motorway in the UK! I need to fill in junction 17 as I’m not so familiar with that one – I guess we can stop there this weekend and have an explore.