GETTING THERE: You can fly to Manchester via New York on British Airways Monday, Wednesday and Friday; the round-trip fare is $707 with a 21-day advance purchase and a minimum stay of seven days. Or you can fly to London and take a connecting air shuttle -- for about $70 one way -- at Heathrow Airport.
There is also excellent train service between London and Manchester from Euston Station. The sleekest and fastest trains, the "Pullmans" that leave in the morning and evening, take only a little more than two hours. The round-trip ticket on these all first-class trains is about $90. Or you can rent a car and drive from London.
WHERE TO STAY: Most Manchester hotels are moderate to expensive ($60 to $100 double including service and tax), those in the cities somewhat moe than those in the countryside.
Manchester: The Portland THistle Hotel, 3 Portland St., phone (061) 228-3400; The Britannia Hotel, Portland Street, (061) 228-2288.
Liverpool: Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Ranelagh Place, (051) 709-7200.
Cheshire: The Chester Grosvenor, Eastgage Street, Chester, phone (0244) 24024; Rookery Hall (this is one of the most highly rated country hotels in England), Worleston, Natnwich, phone (0270) 626-866; Bowler Hat Hotel, 1 Talbot Road, Oxton, Birkenhead (on the Wirral Peninsula), (051) 652-4931.
Derbyshire: Izaak Walton Hotel, near Ashbourne, Dovedale (in the Peak District), phone Thorpe Cloud (033-529) 261; Peveril of the Peak Hotel, Dovedale, Thorpe, near Ashbourne, phone Thorpe Cloud (033-529)333.
Lancashire: Last Drop Village Hotel, Bromley Cross, Bolton, phone Bolton (0204)591-1131.
Cumbria: Michael's Nook, near Ambleside, Grasmere, Cumbria, phone Grasmere (096-65) 496; Sharrow Bay Hotel, Hopwtown near Penrith, Ullswater, Cumbria, phone Pooley Bridge (085-36) 301; Miller Howe Hotel, Rayrigg Road, Windermere, Cumbria, phone Windermere (096-62) 2536.
West Yorkshire: Kildwick Hall, Kildwick, near Keighley, West Yorkshire, phone Cross Hills (0535) 32244.
INFORMATION: The British Tourist Authority, 40 W. 47th St., Suite 320, New York, N.Y. 10019, (212) 581-4700.