M74 Happendon Services

Opened: 1995
Original owner: Cairn Lodge
Current Owner: Cairn Lodge


Alan Simpson writes:

“Happendon services is operated by Cairn Lodge, and can be found in Scotland on the M74 between J11 and 12. Cairn Lodge is an independent company and opened the services in 1993, when the first new part of the M74 extension was opened. At the time the distance between the planned Abington services at J13 was too far from Roadchef’s Hamilton and Bothwell, so Happendon filled the gap. However it lies only 10 miles north of Welcome Break’s Abington as a result. The name Cairn Lodge came about because of the old gatehouse which is still standing, and visible from the main restaurant. The theme is very much Scottish, with an abundance of tartan carpet and haggis on the menu, while when it opened it sported the Highlander sandwich bar. It also opened with a retail shop, and self-service restaurant, with the fuel forecourt added later.

Overall though, Happendon’s story is rather sad. Although well signposted from the M74, the services are actually accessed via the B7078 (old A74) and not directly from the motorway. This, plus a non recognised brand, has meant that it never seems to have attracted the business that was hoped.

Originally there were plans to add a motel and caravan site to the services, but sadly these were never built. The sandwich bar was also closed! As a result, Happendon always seems undeservedly quiet, at times almost ghostly, with the staff often outnumbering the customers. Compared with opening, the restaurant menu options have lessened, the shop has a lesser range of stock and some of the now-defunct facilities, like The Highlander, are scantily covered over. I feel it is a real shame, as the design inside is simple, yet clean and attractive and there really is so much potential, while the food is actually rather good!

I would thus urge fellow motorists to please stop at Happendon in order to allow this potential “wee gem” to fulfil its potential. The Scottish theme has been done so well – cool without being in your face – the services are simple with a functional charm, and the owners obviously have some great deas. It also has really friendly staff, and plenty of room to expand, plus with the neighbouring gatehouse, the potential to make something of an attractive feature. We also need to encourage anywhere that can try to rival the “big three” and given the chance, I reckon Happendon could do so very convincingly!

Alan Simpson


Thanks to Alan Simpson for providing this very detailed information about Happendon

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