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Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Washington DC...
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Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

I'm in the early stages of planning a two-week trip for my mother and I to visit the UK in June 2015 (no, that's not a typo, we're early planners). We've decided which areas we want to visit and now I'm trying to make a feasible itinerary. Because it will be our first time to the UK, budget is a consideration, but not really a huge issue (i.e. we're willing to splurge for important things, but we're not going 5-star luxury for the whole trip). Mom is in her 60s and not much of a hiker.

We'll be traveling from Edinburgh via train to North Yorkshire and plan to spend two days there (probably arriving on a Friday). Our "must see" list for North Yorkshire includes Whitby and the Goathland train station (we're Harry Potter fans). It seems renting a car will be the best way to go, but we're not keen on driving more than an hour to get from place to place.

First question: Should we (A) disembark at Darlington and rent a car there or (B) transfer to Middlesbrough and rent a car there or (C) travel from Edinburgh to Darlington to Middlesbrough to Whitby all via train, make Whitby our "home base" and use the NYMR to see the rest of the area?

Second question: If we decide to rent a car (options A or B above), in which town should we stay for two nights? We're keen on staying in smaller towns instead of larger cities (e.g. York). So, priorities will be (1) quaint, (2) walking distance to a pub, and (3) centrally located.

At the end of our North Yorkshire swing, we'll head to York. If we have a rental car, we'll probably drive all the way to York, although that might be pushing our hour limit on driving.

Third question: If we decide not to rent a car (or want to limit how far we drive), is there a recommended transportation option from North Yorkshire to York? Is there a bus from Pickering to York?

Middlesbrough...
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21. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

What about a day at the races? It's a great afternoon out - an excuse to get dressed up

You'd have to look at the meet dates but if it's on it's a great day out

Robin hoods bay is beautiful and well worth a visit

Washington DC...
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22. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Thanks for the suggestions, Megg092. We're not that into racing and our clothes will be rumpled and travel-weary, so I'm not sure we'll visit the racetrack.

Robins Hood Bay, on the other hand, sounds lovely and more quaint than Whitby. It might be worth a visit if my mom can handle the steps and/or climbing.

I've thought of another itinerary option:

-Early morning train to Northallerton

-Rent car in Northallerton, drive to Helmsley

-Spend afternoon in Helmsley

-Drive to Pickering in the late afternoon and check in to B&B

So, which route has more traffic on Friday afternoons:

(1) A64 + A169 between York and Pickering

(2) A170 between Helmsley and Pickering

Yorkshire Dales...
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23. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

I'd have thought route 1 would be much busier, but I avoid driving around at peak times whenever I can.

The advantage of your new option is that you could visit Rievaulx which is just outside Helmsley. It's a fascinating place and you could see plenty in a hour. Helmsley itself is nice too but don't miss Rievaulx!

Washington DC...
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24. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Thanks for the recommendation. Rievaulx has been added to the list!

York, United Kingdom
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25. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

A little later than some others picking this up. In terms of practicalities you are likely to find it easier to travel quickly to York via train and then drive the last let to get to the North York Moors. If you can I would have a look at getting train tickets in advance from Edinburgh to York - see www.eastcoast.uk they will be far cheaper - if you can live with a set-time. The train journey from Edinburgh to York is fantastic - look out for Holy Island as you pass south on Berwick. You will find lots of car hire options in York - and will be cheaper to return to same location. I recently ooh a two day car hire from Avis for £37. The journey from York to the North York Moors is quite straightforward - either head via Malton or Helmsley. There are lots of small villages with good facilities that you can stay - have a look at Helmsley - or Robin Hoods Bay - and lots of really good pubs. Drive is less than an hour from York and on good roads. Have fun.

Washington DC...
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26. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Thanks, Simon! York does seem like the best place to begin our North Yorkshire excursion. You make a good point about it being cheaper to return the car hire at the same location where we pick it up.

All these different websites for rail travel in the UK can be quite confusing. It's a good thing I have 18 months to learn how to find the cheapest deals.

London, United...
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27. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Northallerton is a fairly small place and there are likely to be a lot fewer car hire options from there than in York. My google search turns up 2 options (Enterprise and Avis) whereas York will have a lot more options. Also, many trains from Edinburgh do not stop in Northallerton (maybe 2-3 per day do so) while almost all (all?) stop in York.

In general, the cheapest place to buy train tickets is from the train operating company. In the case of Edinburgh-Northallerton/York, that's East Coast railways (http://www.eastcoast.co.uk).

Yorkshire, England
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28. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

I noticed that you are from Rockville, MD. My inlaws live near there, but I live (and drive!) in Yorkshire. If you are used to driving in the DC area, you will find the roads here a lot quieter, so I wouldn't really worry about volume of traffic in York and North Yorkshire. It is just a case of getting used to roundabouts (which you have in DC) and to the comparative narrowness of our roads, which makes the traffic seem faster.

Washington DC...
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29. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Thank you, RGBS. That's very helpful. Our best bet is York.

AnneandChris -- Your input is reassuring, certainly. My worry over driving and traffic is sort of a family trait. I'm about to share perhaps more information than you want to read, but ...

Yes, I live in the DC area and I manage the traffic here. Though, I avoid driving in the city whenever possible. I am a regular user of public transit and detest the traffic and parking issues in DC. That said, I am able to handle it if I have to do so. I grew up in New Jersey (also a traffic-congested area) and consider myself to be a good driver. I can handle the roundabouts, not sure about the narrow roads, though.

My mother, with whom I'll be traveling, is a school bus driver. Because she "drives for a living" (which she's always reminding us), she thinks that she is the best driver ever and insists on being behind the wheel. As she's getting up in years, I've noticed that she's a nervous driver. Also, she still thinks of me as a 17-year-old who just learned how to drive. So, the time that we spend in the car will be the most tense parts of our trip. If I can manage to plan a trip that limits the possibility of traffic-jams, then we will be much nicer to each other.

Sorry for oversharing. :)

Edited: 04 December 2013, 17:37
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30. Re: Best town to stay in N Yorkshire (+transportation questions)

Shannon you will find that the very narrow roads in The Dales and North York Moors have pulling in spots at the sides of the road. Certainly in The Dales some roads are incredibly narrow. If you find a car driving towards you without space to pass, one or other of you will be required to pull in to the nearest spot to allow the other to pass. People are very good about this and the etiquette is to give a hand signal of thanks to the driver who allows you to pass. Sometimes it will be up to you to pull in.

Sorry, am I making any sense?