Today we take a break from the M6 with a stop at Rheged in Cumbria. This is part of a series of ‘ShireDad on tour’ posts over the summer holidays, where we’re out and about around the country.
It’s a little unclear whether Rheged is a standalone destination or a brilliant motorway service area. It seems to be a combination of the two. Just off the M6 at junction 40 by Penrith, Rheged offers cafes, outdoor play and indoor soft play, a cinema, exhibitions, activities and well priced petrol too.
We were in the area so decided to pop in to check out the Lego exhibition running through the summer holidays and featuring scenes through history, recreated in the beloved plastic blocks.
It may be tricky to get the family into Rheged without a visit to the play area first, although you need to sign in at reception. There’s a £1.50 charge for children over 5 years of age (currently at a reduced £1 as the big slide for over 5s is closed.)
Interspersing the historic scenes are a number of Lego-based activities such as making a catapult or sailing boat, each with testing areas. Tilly is too young to do these properly but she enjoyed grabbing some blocks and indulging in a bit of building.
The exhibition’s highlight is a steam train with carriages full of activity. My favourite was the rather classy lounge bar.
There were plenty of additional Lego activities outside of the exhibition too including a Lego trail and a build-your-own miniature Flying Scotsman locomotive.
We ended up spending the bulk of our time in the soft play, which costs £3 for an hour or £5 for unlimited play. It’s not a bad sized play area; larger than we’ve found in soft play cafes. The adjacent seating area for adults is ideal with lunch boxes for children and some snacks for adults.
For more substantial meals there’s a cafe on the ground floor with a children’s menu for lunchtime. Lighter meal are available from from the first floor cafe.
There are a nice range of shops including a toy shop and a deli, although for farm food the Tebay services to the south (owned by the same group) is the place to visit.
Judging by those visiting it seems that Rheged is both an established local destination as well as a popular stopping off point on the M6. It’s certainly well placed for those heading to or from Scotland. Rheged offers a full programme of events over the summer holidays. Older children could easily spend much of the day here taking in a film and plenty of activities, while there’s plenty of play for younger children to burn off energy.
Specifics: Rheged is a few minutes off the M6 at junction 40, on the A66. The Lego exhibition is on daily until 4 September.