It’s the Great British Holiday season and millions of us will be taking to the roads for staycations and days out.
Motorway service stations are an obvious choice for drivers of electric vehicles looking for places to recharge on their journey, but car maker Lexus has researched some interesting alternative locations.
The EV charging locations suggested by Lexus are all a few miles from a motorway junction and offer more than a place to plug-in your car – providing a view, an activity, or a cafe, for a stop that is an enjoyable experience, rather than a necessary chore.
Strawberry Fields Farm Shop, Lifton, near Launceston, four minutes from the A30 exit signposted Tavistock/B3362/A384
Anyone who has driven to Cornwall is likely to have encountered the A30, running through the heart of Devon and Cornwall, all the way to Land’s End.
Strawberry Fields is a family-run, award-winning Devon farm shop and restaurant, which includes a butchery selling home-produced meat, an artisan bakery, a jam room, and a well-stocked deli. During the summer months the popular ‘Pick Your Own’ strawberry fields are open.
This popular stop-off has two electric charge points.
Stockwood Discovery Centre near Luton, one mile from junction 10
Stockwood Discovery Centre features lots of open space for children to let off steam and a range of themed landscapes including an Elizabethan knot garden, a Dig for Victory planting, 17th century Italian and Dutch gardens, and a Victorian garden. There is also a lovely café, serving sandwiches, cakes and hot drinks, a play area and a shop selling a range of gifts and artisan food products. If you have enough time, go and see the largest carriage collection in Europe, which is also housed here.
The centre is free to enter and is open from 11am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday during the summer and 11am to 4pm during the winter.
There are two EV chargers with four connectors in the car park.
Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham, Yorkshire: four miles from junction 33 or 34
For adults, Clifton Park has beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding a grade II listed Georgian house containing a museum, which will provide an interesting diversion while the car is charging. For those travelling with younger children, you might want to make a day of it, to take full advantage of the fun park, with its crazy golf, miniature funfair, water rides, bumper cars, and arcade games.
Clifton Park Museum is open every day except Monday (check the website for opening times).
There are two 22kW EV chargers with three connectors in the car park.
Wimpole Estate, near Cambridge, eight miles from junction 12
This National Trust-owned estate is an all-year-round place to visit, reflecting the changing seasons, with something to captivate and inspire all visitors, including parkland and the Old Rectory Restaurant, as well as Wimpole Hall house itself. Parking is included within cost of entry to the Estate.
There are six devices with 12 connectors available.
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey, three miles from junction 10
This is one of the UK’s most visited and best-loved gardens. Wisley was given to the RHS in 1903 and is now a hub of horticultural excellence with some of the largest plant collections in the world. However, if you don’t have much time, you can enter the Wisley garden centre for free, to browse the collection of indoor and outdoor plants, gardening tools, gifts and homewares, or visit the Coffee Shop at the entrance.
There are eight standard 7.2 KWH 32 Amp sockets available for re-charging
Cotton Lake and Wharf pub, one mile from junction 1
Cotton Lake is a small fishing lake which you can wander around, have a picnic, or visit the Wharf pub which has a carvery and bar where customers can enjoy views over the lake. There are two pay-as-you-go rapid charging points, suitable for all electric cars.
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu nine miles from junction 3
The Beaulieu Motoring Museum houses a world-famous collection featuring 285 vehicles. You can see the cars that broke the land speed record, be star struck by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and re-live some favourite TV moments in the World of Top Gear. There’s also a new adventure play area, Little Beaulieu.
There’s an electric charge point that has 3 devices and 6 connectors.
Tredegar House, National Trust, two miles from Junction 28
Tredegar House is one of the architectural wonders of Wales and one of the most significant late 17th century houses in the British Isles. Situated in 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, this delightful red brick house provides an ideal setting for a stroll. It has a play area (with ice cream kiosk in peak months) and a cafe.
Tredegar offers a ‘pay and display’ car park with a 7.2KW EV charging point with connection mode three.
British Motor Museum Warwick: 1.3 miles from exit 12
The British Motor Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of historic British cars, with more than 400 on display. It offers free tours and interactive family activities.
There are four charging points at the conference entrance, located at the back of the museum building, and six charging points to the rear of the museum’s visitor car park. Two of these have a 22kW charging socket, the others have 7kW charging sockets. You can charge your electric vehicle using the Shell Recharge app, or ad hoc using a QR code.
Bicester Village, three miles from junction 9
Bicester Village is home to more than 160 outlet boutiques from leading British and international fashion and lifestyle brands, all offering year-round savings on recommended retail prices. You can also dine at various restaurants on outdoor terraces, with menus offering a wide variety of choices from salmon poke bowls, to cream teas, and sushi.
There is free parking at Bicester village and there are seven charging devices with 14 connectors, providing a top-up service only.
Clevedon Seafront & Pier – 1.9 miles (6 minutes) from junction 20
The seaside town of Clevedon is a quick hop from the M5. It’s low craggy coastline includes many fine shingle beaches and a lovely west facing cliff-top promenade – ideal for a stroll to stretch your legs, or to sit and relax and take in the sea air and spectacular views across to the Welsh coast.
There is parking at Clevedon Hall, which has four charging devices and four connectors available. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Victorian pier.
Quarry Bank | National Trust, National Trust: 1.5 miles from junction 7
Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate is one of Britain’s greatest industrial heritage sites, home to a complete industrial community. Depending on how much time you can spare, you can explore the domestic life of the mill-owning Greg family in their home, Quarry Bank House, or walk to Styal village to see how the mill workers lived, or grab some food at the restaurant, café or mill shop.
Entry to this attraction is free to National Trust members; charges apply to non-members. The car park is open from 8am to 8pm, and parking is included with entry to Quarry Bank.
There are two devices with three connectors for EV charging.
Rheged Centre two miles from junction 40
If you’re travelling to the west of Scotland, consider charging at the Rheged Centre, which is an ideal meeting place at the gateway to the Lake District, offering a gallery, café, shopping, and a cinema. Outside there is a large play structure designed to resemble a Roman fort with tunnels, slides, and ramparts to explore.
There are two charging devices with five connectors available in the car park, which is open daily from 8am to 8.30pm.
Helpful EV apps
Drivers who own a Lexus EV or PHEV can use the Lexus Link app on their phones. It has a map function that shows every charger covered and you can zoom in on locations to find charging stations nearby, or along the route, or can type them into the search box: Lexus charging network
The app can also be used to check the status of progress of battery re-charging, and to pre-set the cabin temperature, or to defrost the windscreen in winter. It also has some handy contact details, such as roadside assistance.