Lakes District or Northern Wales?

Nov 9th, 2015, 12:38 PM
Original Poster
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Lakes District or Northern Wales?

Dear Fellow Travelers,

My wife and I plan to spend two weeks in the UK in the first two weeks of September. Our first week will be dedicated to London where she's never been and I haven't been for 25 years...we plan to mix in a couple of day trips to Cambridge and Brighton (possibly Windsor as well). The plan is to then leave London by train and pickup a car wherever we end up so we will be mobile, though we do prefer to pick a "home base" and then explore every day in a different direction (as opposed to one night here, one night there and living out of our suitcases).

We are currently considering the Lakes District and North Wales and should have a good 5 or 6 days to enjoy. We do love history and castles as well as natural beauty, but aren't the very physical sort so any walks should be relatively easy. We intend to slow down just a bit after visiting busy London and look to romance it up with leisure drives, scenic beauty, etc.

Afterwards, we're thinking of flying out of Manchester back to NYC to avoid returning back to London. I'd love to hear your thoughts and preferences, including whether you think that with only 5-6 days we'd be wasting our time in one place or the other. Thanks for your thoughts!
tskobo is offline  
Nov 9th, 2015, 02:29 PM
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Either would work fine as an add on to London.

I haven't been to Wales in a while but if you click on my Id there is a recent TR for the lakes that might help you.
RM67 is online now  
Nov 9th, 2015, 02:31 PM
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It's Lake District BTW.
On the whole Lake District has more and better facilities for visitors, and quality of hotels and restaurants is noticeably higher (several Michelin-starred places in the Lakes). It's a personal view but I find scenically the Lake District is more varied and offers more, especially in the choice of hiking routes. Snowdonia tends to be more mountainous and paths tend to be steeper and more challenging. You won't waste spending 5-6 days in either, but my preference, having been to both numerous times, is the Lake District.
Alec is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 01:47 AM
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Over the years, the resorts on the North wales coast have become run down, and apart from a castle or two at Conwy and Caernarfon there's not much to recommend it and Snowdonia is for walking really. Even though I live in the North West of england, I haven't been to the coast in years.

The Lake District is a different proposition altogether, with lots of good villages, nice hotels and good food. The scenery is beautiful and if the weather is kind to you, you'll love it. You can catch a train into the Lakes and then pick up your car. Bear in mind the roads are narrow and winding.

Places to consider staying are:


I've avoided the more secluded towns and villages so that you can wander around in the evening, go for dinner and walk back to your accommodation. All of those towns have lots to offer for shopping and entertainment, boat trips etc.

If you want to fly back to the US from Manchester, why not have a couple of nights in the City? Manchester has a wonderful offering of architecture, history, great restaurants and hotels and excellent entertainment.
Rubicund is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 02:09 AM
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I agree with all of the above, partcualrly Rubicund in relation to Wales. The main A55 road should have been upgraded years ago. We, and many others, became sick of sitting in traffic on a Friday night.

Much of North Wales has suffered from a lack of investment and I have to say, even though much of my family is from the Ruthin valley, there is still far too much antipathy towards visitors. On occasion this becomes simply rude.

The Lakes are landscapes in a less windswept context. The hotels and restaurants are simply more up market, there are many easy and stunning walks.

Your trip seems really well balanced.

Personally, I prefer Oxford to Cambridge. I would stay in London, take the train out to Oxford or Cambridge then train to Manchester. Pick up a car and then drive.

If you are using the trains in the UK book tickets on the internet at least 3 months in advance. A ticket to Manchester can be anywhere between £30 and £200 depending on when it is booked.

Thanks for considering the North of England, far to many visitors fly into London then do a couple of days in what they think is chocolate box England (Cotswolds) then fly out. It's like flying into New York spending three days in The Hamptons and thinking you have experienced The States.

Traffic around Manchester can be terrible during the push hour. Once you are north of Preston, you will see very little traffic.

Let us all know if you need help with restaurants / hotels / trips out.

In terms of location, the South Lakes are busier and posher. the North Lakes are generally more about walking.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Nov 10th, 2015, 02:24 AM
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One thing The Lakes doesn't have is : castles.

It is a short day trip to The Borders / Hadrians Wall / Carlisle / Dumfries & Galloway where there are many interesting examples of how the English failed miserably in their attempts to control Scotland.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Nov 10th, 2015, 03:18 AM
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One thing The Lakes doesn't have is : castles

Not quite accurate BC. See this map:

We've always enjoyed Muncaster and Carlisle particularly.
Rubicund is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 03:23 AM
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Here's the index for castles in Cumbria:
Rubicund is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 03:36 AM
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There is more to North Wales than Snowdon and the A55 corridor. There is plenty of easy walking around if you avoid the traffic jam that Snowdon has become.
Lots of old castles besides Conwy and Caernarfon too.
The Denbigh moors are lovely. The area around Llangollen offers interesting walks and places to visit.
Anglesey offers good walking, beaches, ancient churches, castle.
Or consider southern Snowdonia, the Llyn peninsula, Harlech, Portmerion, Macchynlleth.
hetismij2 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 03:59 AM
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I try to forget about Muncaster.

In August I cycled from Lytham to Keswick. I thought it was a great idea to take a more scenic route than the obvious one. I turned left in Ambleside, ended up going over Wrynose and Hard Knott Passes. Just as I reached the point of needing a hospital I saw a sign "3 Miles to Muncaster".

I was a bit late for tea.

I try to forget about Muncaster.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Nov 10th, 2015, 07:36 AM
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lol, Dickie - did you get over the Hard Knoty pass on your bike then? we barely managed it in a car.

One aspect that might affect your decision is the rime of year - in school holidays the Lakes will be very busy, but I see that you are aiming for the first 2 weeks of September so that shouldn't be a problem.

Really it's difficult to know what to suggest - I think that you would enjoy them both. My own preference is for the Lakes but that's more about familiarity - I've only been to North Wales once and that was just driving through.
annhig is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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I love North Wales but a lot of the issues mentioned above are true.

More castles and some terrific scenery. But the Lakes are more 'visitor friendly'

Instead of Wales, I'd maybe think about the Dales. Now, deciding between the Dales and the Lakes isn't easy either. The scenery in the Dales is lovely and there are castles and abbeys all over.
janisj is online now  
Nov 10th, 2015, 07:55 AM
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. . . OR -- maybe Northumberland?? Castles, sea coast, Hadrian's Wall, etc etc.
janisj is online now  
Nov 10th, 2015, 08:16 AM
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"lol, Dickie - did you get over the Hard Knoty"

"Some" years ago at the tender age of 18, a gang from sixth form cycled around The Lakes. We met a lovely group of nice young American girlies who were way out of our league. I'm sure one of their fathers owned Nebraska! One night we cycled from Eskdale Youth Hostel to Ambleside to meet them, drunk 10 pints and then cycled back at 2am. Four passes in one night. Eskdale wouldn't let us in and we slept in the green.

In a direct answer to you question, I pushed it up this time!

I think Janis sums up Wales well. Possibly less visitor friendly. At least Cumbrians smile when taking your last 20 quid note. I should know I'm married to one!

I think where we are leading you is fly into Manchester, out of Edinburgh and forget the south.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Nov 10th, 2015, 11:29 AM
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If you are wanting castles, then North Wales wins hands down over the Lake District. In no particular order there are Conwy, Caernarfon, Beaumaris, Harlech, Rhuddlan, Denbigh, Criccieth, Flint, Ewloe, Dolbadarn, Dolwyddelan, Penrhyn...

The walking, particularly in Anglesey or the Llyn Peninsula, is a lot easier than in the Lakes. You don't have to do the hairy stuff in Snowdonia and can cheat by getting the train to the top of Snowdon. Actually the start of the Miner's Track up Snowdon is a vey easy walk. Turn round when you reach the very steep scramble to the top.

The scenery is pretty good too. Avoid places like Colwyn Back, Rhyll, Bangor and others of that ilk. Conwy is a lovely walled town with a super castle. Llandudno just a short distance away is a typical Victorian sea side town with a tramway to th top of the Great Orme. Another alternative as a base is Criccieth, again a small seaside town with ruined castle.

There is lots to do and see from the longest zip wire to slate caverns, preserved narrow gauge steam railways and Portmeirion...
ESW is offline  
Nov 10th, 2015, 02:12 PM
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There's a great deal more to British countryside than "history and castles as well as natural beauty." Above all, it's what humans have done to its landscape over the past 1,000 years (more recent historians say 2,000) - and the Lakes have far more of that than North Wales.

North Wales' castles (apart from Caernarvon, as we spell it in in English - which is this forum's working language) are mainly grim, and largely ruined, reminders of when the area was a warzone, and a couple or three go a long way.

Many may argue that the Lakes have been gentrified. But good food, well-kept hotels, pleasant shops and nice people more than outgun North Walians' remarkable ability to demonstrate Liverpudlian bluntness without any trace of Scousers' compensating humour, charm, self-deprecation or artistry in English (NOT many North Walians' first language, which is part of the reason they come across as such assholes).

Add the area's general often uncompromising scenery and overall economic depression and I'd choose the Lakes any day.

If you want to see Cambridge, see Cambridge. Oxford's got far too many tourists already, and they're exceptionally pestiferous in early September.
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 11th, 2015, 03:30 AM
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Hear, hear to your third paragraph flanner.
Rubicund is offline  
Nov 11th, 2015, 05:03 AM
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I had to look pestiferous up
sofarsogood is offline  
Nov 11th, 2015, 09:58 AM
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" part of the reason they come across as such assholes)."

The main reason is that they are.

England gave them running water, Sky TV (with the help of an Australian) and benefits galore.

In return they have only just refrained from burning down English holiday homes.

I agree, the Welsh are without question a rung behind scousers on the ladder of evolution. Which puts them two steps behind a howler monkey and one in front of the French.

"of Scousers' compensating humour, charm, self-deprecation or artistry in English "

Apparently B&Q in the quaint Cotswolds was cleared out of Dulux Gloss this morning.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Nov 11th, 2015, 12:12 PM
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What have these racist comments to do with OP's question?

Racist? yes, think about it for a moment. Would you dare write things like that about Native Americans, who are, like the Welsh the native inhabitants of the land? Or about African Americans? Of course you wouldn't.

I am disgusted in the way this thread is going.
I have triangled it but I doubt there will be a reaction from the mods.

Wales is a wonderful country to visit and meets all of OPs requirements for castles, easy walking, scenic beauty.
hetismij2 is offline  

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