Personally I would take the two days for either the Dales or the Lakes. Splitting between the two wouldn't do justice to either as both are completely different landscapes.Mountain Goat is the company for bus tours in the Lakes.
I'd agree with other poster. I spent 9 days in the Lake District and didn't get all the hikes in I would like. It's a relatively large area, has many good hikes, many picturesque towns.
Having said that, Keswick, where I stayed, is the bus hub. You can get a day pass and get on/off in order to see some of the towns. You're really not going to get any 'feel' for the area with a day or two.
To bring that closer to your home, it's like saying you want to know what to do to see Skyline Drive, but only have a day to do it.
If you're determined, get a bus from Keswick and ride on to Grasmere, then Ambleside, on to Windermere. You may want to check other postings on this thread for the more 'picturesque' towns you could visit, then get back on the bus and get to the next town.Edited: 16 February 2016, 06:25
If you pick the Lake District, then Keswick is certainly a good place to stay if you're doing things independently, though if you decide to do a Mountain Goat tour, then you might want to check what's available starting from Keswick, as they are based in Windermere and you may have a better choice of their offerings if you stay closer to there. Ambleside may be a better choice in that regard.
I suspect the decision about hiring a car is best made with reference to the rest of your trip. A car is handy in the Lake District, but certainly not essential, especially if you plan to do an organised tour.
I didn't notice when you're coming, but if you decide on a bus tour, it'd be a good idea to actually speak to the companies direct to establish what is possible, as the main arterial route the A591 was washed away in floods in December and it affects travel between Windermere/Ambleside and Keswick in the north of the district. As other posters have said, 2 days won't be long enough - if you really cannot change your itinery, then I would hire a car.
We spent three weeks in Britain last May/June, and were in Keswick for three nights. I think it was my favorite part of the trip. We stayed at the Hall Garth House, and had a great stay. We hiked up to Castlerigg stone circle one morning, hiked halfway around the lake and took the boat back one morning, hiked up Latrigg that afternoon - the Lake District is beautiful, there are easy hikes, medium hikes, difficult hikes, but if you're into walking/hiking at all you'll love them all. You don't really need to take a bus to see the scenery, you can see miles and miles of beautiful scenery as you walk. (Can you tell I really loved Keswick?)
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