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How hard (for an American) to drive in Yorkshire?

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Fodor folks have already helped with overall itinerary, but I'm still working on the middle 5 days of our 2-week vacation. At the end of July/early August, my family is spending 6 nights in London at the beginning of our trip and 2 nights in Manchester at the end (where will we fly out).

It's the 5 nights of itinerary between London and Manchester that I still need to plan. I originally thought we would NOT rent a car at all (avoid the stress of left-hand driving)....but I'm really wanting to make sure we get out in the countryside. My family (2 adults, 2 teen boys) likes small towns, walking/hiking (not too strenuous, though), beautiful scenery, good food, castle ruins and avoiding mobs of tourists. So, I'm thinking maybe we would take a train from London to York, spend 2 nights in York, and then rent a car and drive through the Dales or Moors to get a taste of smaller towns and do some hiking. (Then return car to York, and take train to Manchester for last 2 nights and fly out.) I would look to pick a single place to spend those 3 nights. I know there are other posts about what town to use as a base for Yorkshire, but I have a few questions:

1. How hard is the area to drive? If we are going from York to small towns, ruins, hiking trails, etc., are the roads going to be narrow and scary? I know I might be sounding ridiculous (!!), but I need to ask.

2. If we rent a car, does anyone have an opinion on 2 nights in York + 3 nights in the countryside vs. doing all 5 nights in the countryside? If we do the latter, is there a recommended charming town where we could still easily take the train into York for 1 day?

Thanks,
DJ

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