DRIVERS on Scotland’s busiest motorway will struggle to find anywhere nice to eat – according to a new book.
Hugh Cantlie, author of Near The Motorways, has spent months travelling the length and breadth of the country in search of affordable alternatives to service stations.
His new book guides motorists to the best hospitality stops within five minutes of main roads.
But he has been unable to find a single recommendation for those travelling on the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In fact, he says he has given up looking for alternative places to eat after several fruitless searches along the 60-mile motorway.
Cantlie, who personally visited all the book’s 200 entries, said a previous edition had included the Bridge Inn at Ratho on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
But it has subsequently been removed because “no-one could find it”.
He said none of the other places he had visited near the M8 had matched his criteria, which includes a friendly and pleasant atmosphere, being “moderately” easy to find and within five minutes’ drive.
By contrast, the guide, which is in its 11th edition, includes recommendations for other Scottish motorways including the M9, M90 and M74.
Cantlie said he thought the lack of suitable places to stop near the M8 might be because the motorway did not follow the old coaching routes.
He revealed he has not visited the M8’s sole service station, the Heart of Scotland services at Harthill, but had a low opinion of them in general.
“They keep getting taken over by yet another large firm, which makes an effort to start with before the service sinks again,” he said.
“They have become shopping malls and are not a very relaxing experience.”
The guide, first published in 2001, records a poor overall verdict of catering near motorways north of the Border.
It reads: “Scotland does extend and warm welcome to visitors and even Sassenachs, but the motorway user gets the impression that the Scots have forgotten the art of hospitality to the passing traveller.
“There are some excellent exceptions to the rule, but there were a lot of places which could not be included.”
Some of the highly-praised eateries include Brodies restaurant and wine bar in Moffat, and the Bein Inn at Glenfarg.
Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Drivers travelling the full length of the M8 will only leave if they feel it’s worth their while, so it’s up to local restaurants, shops and garden centres to make themselves must-stop destinations.”