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24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

posts: 30
reviews: 6
24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

Hello everyone,

I will be visiting the lakes with my boyfriend between the 24th and 31st July. Now when I posted a couple of months ago, many suggested we hire a car. Now, I posted today a new thread asking about routes people can suggest for us to take to go around (by car) and someone posted that we should explore the lakes on foot not by car.

I'm SUPER confused now. Should we hire a car or not?? What would you do? I'm so torn now... I don't think I've been this confused before when travelling! So your help will be greatly appreciated.

By the way, we'll be arriving in Manchester Airport at 9:20pm on 24th July so the train isn't really an option so IF we were to hire a car, we'd pick it up from there and then drive to Ambleside (we're staying at The Fisherbeck).

Any help will be IMMENSELY appreciated at this panic stage!



9 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Lake District
posts: 1,148
reviews: 75
1. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

It's really up to you. You don't need to hire a car, but your options for travelling around will be greatly increased if you have one.

As you say, arriving at Manchester at 9.20 pm may not be the best time to go by train. You should be OK at that time, but if your flight is delayed by an hour or two, you could be in trouble. Assuming the car hire place at the airport will still be open when your flight lands (I doubt that will be a problem, but you might want to check what their opening hours are and what happens if your flight is delayed), then you will avoid such problems.

It really depends on what you want to do when you get there. There's certainly plenty of walking you can do from Ambleside without needing a car. However, if you want to see different parts of the Lake District rather than just focusing on the immediate surroundings of Ambleside, then a car will certainly be useful.

If you like the idea of scenic drives, then obviously a car will be great.

Just to confuse things further, there are buses you can take from Ambleside to other places, so you needn't be limited to Ambleside even without a car. However, a car will give you much more flexibility in where and when you can go.

Parking in Ambleside isn't always easy, so do make sure your accommodation has car parking space.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 27,863
2. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

Even if you land at 9:20pm, you'd be lucky to be in Ambleside before 1:00am.

Stay the night in Manchester, then pick up a car

posts: 30
reviews: 6
3. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

Thank you so much for your reply! I will definitely check with the car hire company about the time we'll be arriving so that we avoid any problems. Thank you for pointing that out. We do want to explore as many different places as possible, not just the surrounding area.

Apart from that, from a quick research I did, it will cost us over £200 to book a taxi for both ways (from and to airport) so I think it would be wiser to use that same money (or a tad bit more if need be) to hire a car.

Hopefully, gas stations are available easily... ?

Our other concern is parking costs too apart from parking spaces. I mean, if we like a place we are driving through, can we just stop and explore? I don't think so :o And what are the usual charges for parking? We have to see if this is worth it for us in the end. But if we are to explore as many places as possible, hiring a car is our choice I think....

Thank you for brainstorming with me! :)


posts: 30
reviews: 6
4. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

Wow! On Google Maps, it seems that it's between 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive from Manchester Airport to Ambleside. How come yours show over 3.5 hours?

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 2,805
reviews: 30
5. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

My comment about exploring on foot was in relation to your question about driving tours and routes - by all means hire a car to get you from A to B but don't spend all day in the car "looking at scenary" get out and about and enjoy the views on foot.

1hour 45minutes is about right from Manchester airport to the Lake District, possibly even less on a good run. I assume Alan is factoring time from landing, passport control, collect baggage, pick up hire car etc.

If you don't take a hire car then there are trains from the airport or Manchester to Windermere which would be a lot cheaper than a taxi.

Cambridge, United...
posts: 570
reviews: 79
6. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

I've just posted some driving routes on the other thread you started, I think some of the posters are being unrealistic regarding walking, I've been going to the Lakes for many years and are a keen fell walker, but I still need a car to get me to the starting point, in addition whilst the view from a summit can be wonderful, there's many days when rain and/or cloud means there's no view at all. By all means spend a day walking one of the more popular mountain routes, but to do more will not be a great use of your time. Parking is available providing you look in the right places at the right times The more touristy places tend to have a regular turnover of cars, you might have to wait for a space, but one will appear in a few minutes as most people are only stopping for an hour or two then moving on. If however you are going walking in the fells for the day parking spaces at the more popular starting points are all taken by 9.30am and as the drivers are going off on a 6 or 7 hour walk will be occupied for a long time. The more organised car parks generally have payment machines, the smaller ones for the walking routes though are often free as they are just side of the road spaces. remember when parking not to block field gates and ensure that there's enough space for the local farmers to get by.

Destination Expert
for Lake District
posts: 1,148
reviews: 75
7. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

The time it will take to get from Manchester Airport to Ambleside will of course have to factor in the time it takes to get through the airport, sort out the paperwork with the hire car, etc. So I think Alan's timings are probably not unrealistic.

As for the actual driving time, at that time of night it should be quite quick and the Google maps estimate will probably be about right. However, if you were to stay at the airport overnight and drive to Ambleside in the morning, you might find it considerably slower as there will then be a lot more traffic about.

A couple of other things:

Yes, gas stations (or petrol stations as we call them over here) are indeed available easily.

Bongodog1964 has already given you some very good information about parking, but just to give you an idea of costs, if you do go somewhere with parking charges, the charges depend on what has been set for a specific car park and how long you're going to stay there for. Typically, you'd probably pay something in the region of £3 to £5 to park somewhere long enough to go for a decent walk, or less if you're only staying for an hour or so to have a little look round.

It's a good plan to save all the coins you ever get in your change for parking machines. I find it's often not the actual expense of parking that's the problem, it's finding enough coins for the machines.

Plus, of course, the difficulty of finding a parking space if you go to a popular spot and you're not there early in the morning.

It's worth mentioning that if you go to more out-of-the-way places, you can often park for free.

Workington, United...
posts: 235
reviews: 18
8. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

with landing late ish at nite would suggest a stay near airport 1st nite, premiere inn type place about £50 then drive up to lakes nice and fresh next day. the joy of having a car is you can go where the fancy takes you and stay as long or short as you want.

Island of Malta...
posts: 13
reviews: 9
9. Re: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?

We are a family of 4 travelling to Bowness on Windermere via Manchester on your same dates and have decided to hire a car even though we shall spend the first night in a hotel close to the airport to avoid travelling during the night. We plan to explore as much as we can and came to the conclusion that having our car will give us much more freedom. Enjoy your holiday and stay safe : )

Reply to: 24th July - 31st July, Staying: Ambleside. HIRE CAR OR NOT?
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