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Thinking of renting a car in York

My husband and I are planning a trip next summer--late June, early July--to England. We were planning on relying on trains and buses but then we hit the challenge of trying to visit North York Moors National Park. He really wants to see and hike in the moors and this park looks marvelous. I found that there is a steam engine train that runs from Pickering to Whitby that looks like a fun time. I found bus service but it just doesn't coordinate very well. So i am thinking that maybe renting a car for the day might be the way to go.

We will be in York beginning on a Friday which means renting a car on Saturday. Best I can figure out the car rental places are only open until noon. But it seems, at least online, that I can rent and return a car on Saturday. Has anyone ever done this? It just isn't very clear how this would work. Rick Steves book also says that you can rent in the morning but return after hours. I really don't want to keep the car until Monday--both because it would be paying for something we would not use on Sunday and because parking in York seems to be an issue.

Also, do any of you have advice in terms of renting a car in England? We had International Driver's license for Greece last year but I don't see the same requirement (ours will expire in May before we go). What about insurance coverage? I see that you can buy coverage so you have no deductible but no indication of how much the deductible would able be without that additional coverage.

And how is it driving in the area north of York? We both drove in rural Greece last year but of course it was on the same side of the road as we are used to in the U.S. We have never driven in the UK. I actually found it easier to drive in rural areas than on the tollways in Greece because in the latter you had to make decisions quickly. In rural areas, you can always pull over and look at a map.

Beth

Posted by
5750 posts

I generally book my rentals through gemut.com (or ay least give them a shot at it). They do the legwork and comparisions, give you a quote. If you think yo can do better on your own, knock yourself out.

I don't know the specifics for York, but it's common that in some cities/towns, open hours may be limited on weekends. You may also find that a place that's open on weekends has a higher rate than one that's open only weekdays. Sometimes an airport or train station or downtown place have different rates and hours. No way to know without checking. Thats why I let someone else do that work. Gemut.com also has some good info on insurance and tips on European car rentals in general.

Posted by
4734 posts

Europcar in York has an out-of-hours drop off facility for an additional charge of £20 but there seems to be a hefty premium there if you need an automatic rather than manual.

Posted by
4684 posts

Try to stay at a hotel that isn't right in the centre of York, then, and which has its own car parking (personal recommendation, the Premier Inn Blossom Street, just outside the centre near the railway station). Driving in central York is not pleasant due to pedestrianisation, one-way systems and congestion.

Posted by
963 posts

Hi Beth -

The alternative to renting a car would be to see if there are tours running to the NYM railway and the moors themselves. I noted this year that two companies run tours from York out there - one I think is called BOB's and the other is the more well known (at least to Lake District visitors) Mountain Goat. The only unknown at this stage is exactly what they plan for 2019.

On the pros and cons of renting a car, the downside is that central York is not much fun to drive in and parking is definitely an issue. Parking in a central car park is hugely expensive (we have friends who live in York and if visiting use the Nunnery Lane car park which separates you from £15.00 for a full day) and we still have a half mile walk to their apartment on the riverside.

On the plus side though the NY Moors are well worth a visit and so is the north east coast where you'll find Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay and Staithes. The moors themselves are big and largely empty - I believe Rick Steves isn't a big fan, but I love them and they reward patient exploration! The railway is a good way to get a taste and of course delivers you to Whitby.

As regards hiking, the Coast to Coast and Cleveland Way run together along the north east edge of the moors and 'undulating' is putting it mildly. The Cleveland Way can be picked up again at Whitby where it now travels south along the coast. The cliff top walk down to one of the smaller resorts nearby is excellent, but you'd need to check bus timetables and/or taxis to take you back to Whitby for your train, if that's how you got there. For circular walks on the moor you should be able to pick something up either from the Internet via Amazon or such like or on arrival in York.

If you have a car and the weather isn't kind there are National Trust properties a short drive from York at Beningborough Hall and Nunnington Hall and these can only be sensibly reached by car. Similarly the NT properties of Mount Grace Priory, Rievaulx Abbey and further afield, but within driving range Fountains Abbey, which are all more outdoors experiences as are the ruins of Richard lll's castle at Middleham (English Heritage), although you'll be heading away from the NY Moors for the latter two into the Dales.

Hope this might prove useful and that you have a great trip, car or no car!

Ian

Posted by
5630 posts

We visited the Yorkshire Moors last October and loved it. We had been in York for three nights. Leaving York, we stopped and visited Castle Howard on our way to Pickering. Overnighting in Pickering the drove over the Moors to Whitby. We considered taking the steam train, but our schedule just didn't work for that. However, we visited the rail station and saw the train come in the station. Whitby was great, lots of history there. There is an ancient Abby (in ruins) at the top of the hill overlooking the North Sea and city.

We did a 28 day drive tour of Wales and England. Here is my detailed review:
28 days in Britain and Celebrity Eclipse home
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Posted by
1005 posts

I've rented a car at the Europcar office at the York Train Station. I highly recommend getting an automatic for driving in England--they had them in stock, but try to get the smallest size you can, because rural roads are quite narrow. A few days before, I carefully charted my route from the train station to the countryside on Google maps and looked at the streets on Google Streetview. This helped a lot when I tried to navigate my way out of York. Two parts of driving on the left are difficult for me--backing up and not drifting to the left. I practiced backing up in the rental car lot before I left. As for staying centered in the lane, it takes some practice. The person in the passenger's seat can warn you if you are getting too close to the curb.

The moors are lovely and it's worth renting a car to see them. Good luck.

Posted by
963 posts

I forgot Castle Howard! How did I do that? It's big enough! Also Ampleforth Abbey, a public school/monastery on the southern edge of the moors is worth a short visit if only to buy a couple of bottles of cider that the monks brew from the apples in their orchards!

Ian

Posted by
1780 posts

Thanks for all the helpful replies.
David--I have asked for a quote from gemut.com
harleydonski--yes, it is a permit! I understand that the point is to translate your home country's driver's license so it makes sense that another English speaking country would not require one. But I did not want to assume since they are required in Greece and everyone at a car rental place speaks English.
Marco & T--yes I noticed the hefty premium at Eurocar for an automatic so was thinking of getting a manual. My husband and I have automatics now but drove manuals for years (until teenage children started driving). We also drove one in Greece one day (but not in the mountains. But T your description and getting ready to drive in the UK convinced me that it would be foolish to not do what is easiest for us to do.
ianandjulie--I will check into tours as well. I had looked but nothing popped up but maybe with your suggestions of names I will be more lucky.
geovagriffith-I enjoyed your trip report. We have reservations at Brooks as well in Bath. Glad to know you liked it.

And from several of you, thanks for the ideas of what else to see near York with a car and your encouragement to see the moors.

Beth

Posted by
1780 posts

I just looked at the Mountain Goat and BOBH tours as an alternative to driving. They both look great and aren't any more expensive I think than renting a car. I appreciated seeing where they go as well, even if we decide to drive. The biggest disadvantage of a tour is that we would like to do some hiking but will have to figure out if that is reasonable to do. We would need something no more than five miles that is either a loop or a place that we can get a bus or taxi from. And we would like to hike through the moor. Any ideas?

Beth

Posted by
963 posts

Hi Beth -

You are correct that neither of the two tour companies would allow you any time to get out and walk very far. As an introduction they look fine and you would get a good taster of the area, but you wouldn't have time to get your boots dirty.

That said if you did decide to drive you might be able to glean some idea of where you might get out and walk a bit from a favourite website: www.walkingenglishman.com - go to regions and choose 'North Yorks Moors' (NOT 'North Yorkshire' which is a much bigger area and you'll struggle to narrow down the area). He lists the walks by location and distance there and grades them too. I thought if you were to drive, although it's a tad longer than you specify, the Goathland Moor walk looked a good one. Alternatively you could just buy an OS North Yorks Moors map and work out your own route (this assumes you can map read OK). You could put something together, say a circular walk from Hutton Le Hole - lovely strung out 'olde Englishe' village - via Lastingham for instance, or alternatively there are some interesting short walks from Rosedale Abbey. (Just in case you were wondering, the abbey is long gone!). That is the great beauty of the British countryside though, you can find a footpath and just take off in general, go exploring!

The usual caveats apply though. Be prepared for the weather to turn suddenly and it can be brutal on the exposed upland moors if it decides to go that way. Sensible footwear too. I would favour hiking boots for most moorland routes although in summer if the weather is good (as in dry) 'approach shoes' would probably suffice. I'm sure you'll find Mike, the walkingenglishman dishing out similar advice. If you need further information or get seriously confused, PM me!

Ian

Posted by
1780 posts

Ian-thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for. It is the kind of thing that is difficult to find just searching the Internet.

Beth

Posted by
1780 posts

Ian-this looks lovely too! Thank you so much. I had looked at the park website but was overwhelmed by it as I had no idea where anything was. I am sure I will find it much more helpful now that you have pointed me to several hikes.

Maybe we need another day...

Beth