Where should we visit in England: York, or the Lake District?
June 3, 2016 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Mr. T. Horn & I will be traveling a good swath of England this summer, and have a few days to kill before heading back to London after our visit to Haworth/Bronte Parsonage Museum. Where would be more enjoyable, affordable, and fun for 2 grad students on a budget, traveling by train and bus: the Lake District, or York? Or somewhere else?

Though we love long walks, we already will have walked much of South Downs Way by this point, so we're not dying for more of that, necessarily. Also, not a fan of camping. We would like to stay for 2 or so days, so cost of accommodations is a factor.

So, what would be more enjoyable for two travelers on a budget, sans-car? FWIW, we both love literature, culture, museums, history, and architecture, as well as a good view. York seems to have a lot of museums and history going for it, which sounds pretty fun to me. But, you know, the Lake District, Wordsworth, incredible scenery, etc etc.

We also considered going to the Edinburgh Fringe, but that seems like it might end up costing a lot.
posted by Miss T.Horn to Travel & Transportation around Manchester, England (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I liked the Lake District more than York when it was sunny, but if it rains, the Lake District is dull.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:46 PM on June 3, 2016

When I visited York, York Minster blew my mind. If you decide to visit York, go to York Minster and go on the tour of the foundations.
posted by Lexica at 11:24 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Lakes for walking, York for history. But if you're only going for two nights then there's enough in either place even if it rains. Maybe plan out your journey to get to both places as well - York is on a major train line. To get to the pretty places in the Lakes you may find you need to fiddle around with public transport a lot more.
posted by kadia_a at 11:40 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I haven't been to the Lake District, but I loved York!

Was only there for two nights and we did York Minster (Lexica is right, it's amazing) and did the foundation tour plus the worn and narrow spiral stairs to the top. Walking by the river and along the wall and through the shambles was fun, though the latter bit was a bit touristy. We also did the Jorvik viking museum, which is a hoot -- you ride in this ski lift contraption through a model viking village, featuring the sights and SMELLS of viking Jorvik.

The train lets right off in town. Accommodations were pricey but you might have better luck if you plan ahead.
posted by mochapickle at 12:31 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

(Oh, boo -- I just saw that the viking museum was badly damaged by floods last year and won't be open this year. Still voting for York, though.)
posted by mochapickle at 12:36 AM on June 4, 2016

No car, you said? York. Getting around the Lake District by public transport is somewhere between a headache and a sisyphean nightmare.
posted by Dysk at 12:43 AM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've done both and York was a bit more interesting. I also did the viking museum and it was grand. Too bad it'll be closed! If I had been able to just sit and chill a day or two in the Lake District, it strikes me as a place where I would love to kick back in a quiet place, drink some coffee and listen to the birds chirping. I think, no matter which you choose, you will enjoy the hell out of the one you pick. You can't lose!
posted by Foam Pants at 12:44 AM on June 4, 2016

Since you only have a couple of days, I'd probably say York. The Lake District is pretty spread out in terms of where the visitor attractions are - you're talking 2-3 hour bus rides between the major tourist hotspots, and very patchy rail and bus service. York has so, so much more to do, it's a lot more compact - you can stroll across the city centre in 20-30 minutes - and the Minster is one of the greatest buildings in Europe and if you're already in Yorkshire it'd be silly to miss it.

If you're going to Haworth and you want beautiful scenery, it's really right there on the doorstep - Haworth is very rural, nestled in the Pennines and there's some fantastic short walking up onto the moors right out of the village. It's different scenery to the Lakes, but just as wonderful and a lot more peaceful. I actually kind of prefer the bleak moorland myself. The Lakes in the summertime can be a bit of an overcrowded tourist trap and Yorkshire has so much wonderful and off-the-beaten-track countryside. If I was doing your trip, I'd do the rural thing in Haworth and then have a nice, chilled couple of days exploring the city in York.

I live in Yorkshire (although not York) and if you have any questions or anything you'd like me to try and find out locally, just send me a MeMail and I'll try my best!
posted by winterhill at 1:01 AM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I found the Lake District really crowded in summer. I went from Durham-York-Lincoln doing the cathedral tour thing and loved that. Lincoln in particular. I had an amazing tour of the old city walls there.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:48 AM on June 4, 2016

I've been to both and enjoyed them but I'd say York in your circumstances. Lake District is tough without a car and a lot of the attraction is walking and scenery. York gives you history in a compact space and there's plenty to do for a couple of days.
posted by crocomancer at 2:56 AM on June 4, 2016

Yes if you're walked out, love history, and it's only a couple of days, I'd say York. You could probably spend two days just in the magnificent railway museum. Edinburgh would be another choice but maybe not during the Fringe! A left-field option might be Manchester- sure it's a bit gritty but it has a nice vibe (at least I thought so)- it might be cheaper than York, and has some great museums and the amazing Rylands Library . For incredible scenery you could take a day trip out on the little railway that runs between Manchester and Sheffield, it goes right through the Peaks and you can stop for a pub lunch at one of the little villages along the way.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:11 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

York, definitely. The Lake District is beautiful, but it is all about walking. And the public transport is terrible.

Shame the Yorvik museum is shut, but the Minster, the city walls, Clifford's Tower, the Shambles and everything else will be lovely. Stop in at Betty's tearoom for a Fat Rascal (massive mixed peel scone) or one of their other treats.
posted by tinkletown at 3:25 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found the Lake District dull and crowded in the summer, and was actually kind of disappointed that we wasted a couple of days of holiday on it. We eventually gave up trying to find anything to do and just spent a day hanging around the hotel grounds reading (which was lovely, but we could have done that anywhere). I'd definitely give it a miss and choose York.
posted by holborne at 8:32 AM on June 4, 2016

Thank you, everyone! These are such great answers. York it is! (although Rylands library also looks incredible). Man, I wish that Viking museum were open.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 4:13 PM on June 4, 2016

York was really fun, I thought -- but I'm a big history fan so I was mostly going to museums and historical places. I'm not sure if that's your thing, or how much other stuff there is to do if you're not into that. (Otherwise, when you take out all the historical stuff, all I recall about York is a really great Thai restaurant.)

Never been to the Lake District so no input on that.
posted by Peregrine Pickle at 6:25 PM on June 4, 2016

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