Are you actually staying in Cheltenham?
The best way to see the Lake District is by car. Keep the car for the Cotswolds and the Lake District, although you will have a long journey along the M5/M6 to link the two places. However Arriva Cross-Country trains from Cheltenham to Birmingham and Virgin Trains from Birmingham to Oxenholme The Lake District can be sluggish and tiresome as well.
It's easy enough by train to Oxenholme, Penrith, Kendal or Windermere stations - see www.nationalrail.co.uk. Windermere may be best if you're set on using public transport. But I agree that you'd do better to keep the car. The M5/M6 can be congested especially around Birmingham. But it's a simple enough drive and can be done in half a day.
Actually we're planning to rent another car in the Lake District. My husband prefers to keep the driving to a minimum since he's uneasy about driving on the left (he has had experience in Ireland which he didn't enjoy). That's why we thought that it might work to take the train up to the Lake District. We thought that Cheltenham would be convenient to Broadway since we'll be staying there while in the Cotswolds. Since we'll be returning the car to Cheltenham we're looking for the most direct way to get to Keswick from Cheltenham via public transportation. I will check out the national rail website, thanks so much!
Cheltenham by rail to Penrith
Penrith to Keswick by bus
Cheltenham to Oxenholme by rail, Oxenholme to Windermere by rail
Windermere to Keswck by bus
Just a suggestion
However there are no major car hire spots in the Lake District, just local ones to my knowledge
So rail to Lancaster or Kendal, hire car drive to Keswick?Edited: 05 November 2013, 01:09
Totally agree with the poster above - driving on the big straight roads between the two destinations is super easy compared with the narrow, steep and bendy roads in the Cotswolds and the Lake District! But don't worry you'll get used to it. Between Cheltenham and the Lake District is basically one long freeway with only a couple of big (but clearly signposted) intersections, it'll be quicker and cheaper than the train and you can stop when you want.
Yes it is a straightforward drive but " freeway" ?
It can get quite congested especially around Birmingham, and the stretch nirth if their around Stafford but after driving around the Cotswolds for a few days you will have got used to the car and driving on the left and might feel like driving in the motorway. Speed limit is 70 mph ( on the leaf stretches LOL)
Certainly worth remembering that the speed limit is 70 mph. A few years ago we were chatting to an American couple who were saying how good it was to drive on roads with no speed limits. They went rather pale when I told them what the limit is. They said they had been driving at about 100 mph on the motorway!!
Agree with Dzug - if you can manage to drive around the Cotswolds the trip up the motorway to the Lakes will be easy. Keep the car for your whole trip. Suggest you book an automatic.
I can see your point about keeping the car and taking it to the Lake District but based on my husband's experience of driving in Ireland, he never did get used to driving on the left for the two weeks we were there--and we did go on the big motorways. In fact, we were fortunate to have our son who was working in Dublin at the time drive us in and out of the city, and my husband breathed a huge sigh of relief once the car was turned in! Yes, we will book an automatic, and perhaps in six months he'll reconsider. Thanks so much for all the tips and suggestions.