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Having previously experienced the intermittent state of public transport in the Peak District we're looking at renting a car on our return.

Coming up from London, what would be the location with the best combination of convenience to the Peak District, on a train line and having one or more major car rental agencies, especially if they are within a short walk of the train station?

Derby looks like an initial contender, though Chesterfield and Sheffield were the two cities we went via last time, but I'm not sure what other options there are.

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Chesterfield appears not to have much in the way of car rental agencies. That aside, here's a comparison of various towns dotted outside the Peak District:

            From London (train)  To Bakewell (car)  Walk to Europcar  Walk to Hertz
Birmingham  1 hr 25              1 hr 35            10 mins           15 mins
Manchester  2 hr 15              1 hr 10            15 mins           0 mins
Nottingham  1 hr 50              1 hr               10 mins           20 mins
Sheffield   2 hr 15              40 mins            20 mins           10 mins
Derby       1 hr 30              50 mins            25 mins           35 mins (10 mins bus)
Stafford    1 hr 15              80 mins
Stoke-on-Trent  1 hr 30          60 mins
Stockport   1 hr 55              50 mins

Since it looks like a car rental agency can always be found within 10 minutes of walking or public transport from the train station, Derby looks to be the winner as it's both easily reached by train and less than an hour's drive from the centre of the Peak District.

I'm open to running numbers on other locations if suggested. These are just culled from scouting around the surrounds of the Peak District on Google Maps.

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Might be worth trying Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Stockport too? You might also want to consider the cost of the train ticket! –  Gagravarr Mar 4 at 7:09
    
Thanks for the suggestions! They're better options than most of the others I looked at but it still looks like Derby wins for overall convenience. On train tickets, they seemed to vary a lot more by time of travel rather than destinations. Is this impression correct? –  dlanod Mar 4 at 21:55
    
Advice on train tickets is a different question! Basically though you have advanced purchase ones (valid on only one specific train, can be cheap), off peak ones (not at most popular times, sometimes reasonable, sometimes expensive) and anytime (normally expensive). Different destinations can have different costs, different peak/offpeak designations, and different advanced purchase availability –  Gagravarr Mar 5 at 10:45

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