Quite a long time ago, I produced tables of the most popular methods for handbell peals of Major, Royal and Maximus, which showed that although Yorkshire Major is more commonly rung than Cambridge Major, the preference is reversed on higher numbers.
Just for fun, here are the five people who have rung the most handbell peals, according to www.pealbase.co.uk, and the number of peals of Cambridge and Yorkshire they have rung.
This data confirms my original statement: on higher numbers, Cambridge is more popular than Yorkshire. Why is this, and why do Cambridge and Yorkshire swap places in the popularity rankings when we move from Major to Royal?
I think the preference for Yorkshire Major is largely because the tenors stay fairly close together and the first and last leads of the 7-8 course, in particular, are quite easy to ring. The fact that Yorkshire has Plain Bob half leads also helps, making it easy to check the coursing order at the half lead.
My experience is that Cambridge Royal is easier than Yorkshire Royal, and my hypothesis is that this accounts for its popularity. To see why Cambridge Royal is easier, look at the grids of both methods (diagrams produced by Martin Bright's method printer):
The difference is that in Cambridge, the blocks of treble-bob hunting below the treble extend further towards the back: all the way up to just below the treble. Just as in Cambridge-above methods it's easy to keep everyone synchronised at the back by means of the instructions "dodge above [the treble]" and "hunt above", in Cambridge it's equally easy to keep everyone synchronised below the treble. In Yorkshire it's more difficult to give instructions that apply to everyone.
On a more optimistic note, if we're not assuming that the conductor is having to talk the band through the method, Cambridge is easier to ring because the treble-bob hunting below the treble lasts longer; there are longer periods when you can let one bell waft along without thinking about it. The same applies to Maximus, of course.
The grid shows how close Cambridge is to being a double method. Unfortunately, trying to produce a double method by removing the 12 when the treble in 3-4 doesn't quite work, as you can see here.
After ringing our quarter of Cambridge Royal on Thursday, and discussing the relative merits of Cambridge and Yorkshire, Nick advanced the theory that Lincolnshire is easier than either of them. So we rang half a course of Lincolnshire and it went quite well at the second attempt, despite the fact that none of us had thought much about it in advance. I'll leave an analysis of Lincolnshire and its merits for a future post.