The Cotswold Way National Trail winds 164 kilometres through the rolling Cotswold hills from the charming market town of Chipping Campden to the ancient city of Bath. As you walk along the Cotswold escarpment, you will be awestruck by the English countryside. Along the way, you will pass through villages like Birdlip, Painswick, and Dursley. As you wander through the town, you can see the ancient and famous stones of the Cotswolds while you window shop or relax with a delicious lunch in a local restaurant.

On the Cotswold Way, you will be astounded with views of the countryside extending for hundreds of miles. Peaceful rolling hills, wide-open skies, and a plethora of unique wildlife will bring you peace on your journey. See if you can spot frog orchid, the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly, and the Oystercatcher!

Cotswolds Villages, Trails & Stratford-upon-Avon

Self-guided

Hike across rolling English countryside, explore over 30 historic wool towns and thatched villages of the Northern Cotswolds, including Shakespeare’s town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Self-guided 7 Days From $1250 Moderate What's Included

Cotswolds Villages, Trails & Stratford-upon-Avon

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What's Included
  • 6 nights accommodation in B&B’s, pubs and 3* hotels
  • All luggage transfers
  • Pack free inn to inn walking
  • Private transfer on day 4 from Chipping Campden to Stratford-upon-Avon
  • 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 welcome dinner
  • Maps, guidebook and route notes
  • 24/7 telephone support from the local Auswalk UK office
  • Flexible itinerary to suit your walking needs
  • Enjoy worry free navigation with your comprehensive maps, route notes and guidebook
  • A day in Stratford-upon-Avon to the visit the world-famous Shakespearean sights

Cotswold Way

Self-guided

Walk England’s quintessential picture postcard Cotswold Way in 9 days. Hike through rolling countryside and honey coloured villages, finishing at the UNESCO listed city of Bath.

Self-guided 9 Days From $1495 Moderate What's Included

Cotswold Way

BACK
What's Included
  • 8 nights accommodation in B&B’s, pubs and 3* hotels
  • All luggage transfers
  • Pack free inn to inn walking
  • Flexibility to add nights and further explore this timeless region of England
  • 8 breakfasts and 5 lunches
  • A day to explore the Roman and Georgian architecture and sights of Bath
  • Maps, guidebook and route notes
  • 24/7 telephone support

Cotswold Way Uncovered

Self-guided

Walk England’s quintessential picture postcard Cotswold Way in 11 days. Hike through rolling countryside and honey coloured villages, finishing at the UNESCO listed city of Bath.

Self-guided 11 Days From $1895 Moderate What's Included

Cotswold Way Uncovered

BACK
What's Included
  • 10 nights accommodation in B&B’s, pubs and 3* hotels
  • All luggage transfers
  • Pack free inn to inn walking
  • Flexible walking itinerary to shorten the walks or add in a rest day
  • A night in the village of Painswick to explore gardens, tea rooms and pubs
  • 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 1 dinner
  • A day to explore the Roman and Georgian architecture of Bath
  • Maps, guidebook and route notes
  • 24/7 telephone support

OVERVIEW

The Cotswold Way National Trail winds 164 kilometres through the rolling Cotswold hills from the charming market town of Chipping Campden to the ancient city of Bath. As you walk along the Cotswold escarpment, you will be awestruck by the English countryside. Along the way, you will pass through villages like Birdlip, Painswick, and Dursley. As you wander through the town, you can see the ancient and famous stones of the Cotswolds while you window shop or relax with a delicious lunch in a local restaurant.

On the Cotswold Way, you will be astounded with views of the countryside extending for hundreds of miles. Peaceful rolling hills, wide-open skies, and a plethora of unique wildlife will bring you peace on your journey. See if you can spot frog orchid, the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly, and the Oystercatcher!

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History of the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is steeped in history and culture that is centuries in the making. The Cotswolds originally got its fame from its highly lucrative wool trade, with Cotswold wool being known as the best wool in all of Europe. The rolling hillsides and endless areas for pastures made for a perfect location to raise giant flocks of sheep. In the Middle Ages, that is precisely what they did, and soon 50% of England’s economy was based on wool. Abbeys and monasteries raised “Cotswold Lions,” which are sheep known for their long golden fleeces, and merchants soon became rich. The wool industry grew so large at one point that King Charles II made it mandatory for the deceased to be buried in wool; this is how the idiom “You can’t pull the wool over my eyes” came to be, meaning that “I am not dead.”

The Cotswolds created more than wool over the centuries. The trade from this area included the unique honey-coloured stone seen in the villages, silk, tobacco leaves, and as routes for salt and coaching. Even with these incredibly lucrative trade practices, the Cotswolds was not always a land of peace.

The Cotswolds was at the centre of two civil wars, one from 1642 to 1645 and another from 1648 to 1649. These wars were fought by King Charles I and his Royalists against the supporters of Parliament. The king had his headquarters at Oxford, the Parliamentarians had garrisons at Gloucester and Bristol, and there were sympathisers at Malmesbury and Cirencester. The Cotswolds held enormous strategic importance, and the first battle of the Civil War was actually fought at Edgehill, on the northern edge of the region. Eventually, the Parliamentary Force won, but not without leaving lasting impressions of war upon this glorious landscape.

Centuries have passed and the Cotswolds today has become a peaceful landscape of adorable villages, tasteful manors, and hidden gardens. You can find rest and relaxation at cute guest houses, fine dining establishments, cosy pubs, and specialised shops.

History of the Cotswold Way

The Cotswolds is a 164-kilometre-long National Trail that is centuries in the making. For hundreds of years, the trails that created the framework of the Cotswold Way were traversed by farmers, hunters, animals, and anyone else who had to pass through the region. To give an extra historical zing, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon Avon in Warwickshire, which means that earlier in his life he must have walked along these same trails perhaps musing of epic poetry.

In 1966, the Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Soon after, in 1970, this path was established in conjunction with the Cotswold AONB by the members of the Rambler’s Association. Almost 30 years later, in 1998, the national trail was approved for development; although it was not until May of 2007 that the path was formally launched. This is one of only 16 trails of its kind in all of England and Wales, making it a unique cultural experience that visitors love to flock to each year.

Flora & Fauna

The Cotswolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 due to its rare limestone grasslands, ancient beech woodlands, and being the habitat for some of the most endangered species in British wildlife. The area covers 2038 sq. Km, which is over 80% farmland, making this the largest AONB in all of England and Wales.

Sheltered wooded valleys are primarily made up of ancient beechwoods, but ash, oak, elm, field maple, and whitebeam can also be found. Bramble and ivy create a thick undergrowth, a haven for small woodland creatures. Rarer plants also make an appearance under the shelter of the trees. You can find yellow star-of-Bethlehem, stinking hellebore, and fingered sedge. As you walk along the trails, you will spot the wild colours of bluebells, violets, primroses, early-purple orchids, and more.

The limestone grasslands that make up much of your journey have become rich and dense in flora due to hundreds of years of grazing. You will be able to spot cowslips, rock-rose, wild thyme, yellow rattle, kidney vetch, and many more plant species dotting the landscape. This area is well known for its plethora of orchids; you can see the greater butterfly orchids, bee orchids, frog orchids, musk orchids, and the rare green-winged orchids. If you have a love of flowers, then this is the place for you. There will be more flowers than you ever expected to see, right at your fingertips. Crickley Hills has actually been marked as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its wildflowers, one of which encourages the return of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly each year.

With all of the protective undergrowth and wildflower-laden meadows, this area is a haven for animals that once were at risk for extinction. With the help of conservation efforts, animals such as water voles, owls, and otters have made a comeback in this area.
Birdwatching is also a favourite in this region. It is so popular that the Cotswold Water Park Trust runs guided walks and puts out a seasonal leaflet indicating which birds are anticipated to be around. In springtime, warblers, hirundines, nightingales, hobbies, and occasionally a red-footed falcon can be seen. The little ringed plover, the oystercatcher, and a large variety of ducks can be found in the summer. If you happen to be visiting in Autumn, then you may be able to witness the vast numbers of birds migrating south for the winter. While England may not be considered a nature hub by the average tourist, you will be surprised at all the charming creatures hiding in plain sight.

Local Cuisine

When travelling to England, it is essential to taste the local food. Fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole, and traditional roast beef some of the classic British dishes that are served in most local pubs across the Cotswolds. You can also find a wide variety of global restaurants (such as Italian and Indian) along with high class dining establishments that include, 5 North Street (a Michelin star restaurant in Winchcombe).

In addition, beer is considered one of the most critical aspects of British life. The quality and variety are extraordinary, and if you are looking for your perfect beer, then this is the place to find it!

Fig:

Located in the Cotswold House Hotel, Fig is one of the more formal dining options available in Chipping Campden. You can choose between a 2-course, 3-course, or tasting menu for your dining pleasure. The style of the food is modern Italian with a Mediterranean flair. This popular restaurant is in high demand, so it would be wise to book in advance.

Michael’s Mediterranean:

With a building dating back to 1720, Michael’s Mediterranean is located in the heart of Chipping Campden. Relax and dine on the terrace in the summer or by the open fires when it gets chilly. Michael’s offers traditional Greek dining, including fresh seafood and fillet steaks that are locally sourced.

The Mount Inn:

In the heart of Stanton village, sample classic pub dishes such as bangers and mash, or a locally reared beef dish such as steak and ale pie or a juicy sirloin steak. You can also sample several of the cask ales available at the Mount Inn brewed at the nearby Donnington Brewery at Stow on the Wold.

Russell’s Fish & Chips:

Just off of High Street is the place to go for great fish & chips. Only the freshest of fish is served at this restaurant. If you have never tried mushy peas before, you must try them now. They taste better than they sound! Dine in and talk with the friendly staff or take away back to your accommodation.

The Golden Heart Inn:

If you want a few more dining options than the traditional go-to, you can head a bit outside of Birdlip to the Golden Heart Inn. Here they serve a comprehensive menu that has something for everyone, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more exotic dishes. You can try their barn bar for private dining. There is a coffee lounge and a gorgeous patio overlooking the valley, truly something for everyone!

The Painswick Hotel & Restaurant:

Designed for food lovers, the Painswick is the best place to share, as they feature a Smorgasbord style of dining. Be tempted by their ricotta dumplings, Cornish cod, beef wellington, and everything else that their delightful menu has to offer. Vibrant and delicious food in a charming setting will leave you with a smile on your face.

The Corner House:

The Corner House prides itself on fresh ingredients. Their goal is to create delicious and flavourful foods that will make your taste buds sing. You can try their smoked duck breast, vegetable spring rolls, and lamb cutlets without breaking the bank. You will leave full and satisfied!

Kings Head Pub:

Kings Head Pub is located at the sister inn to the Swan Inn. If you are looking for hearty and filling traditional English food, then look no further. Using locally sourced produce, the Kings Head Pub includes a seasonal menu with all the freshest and most vibrant dishes. Try Angus beef from Bledington and fresh fish from Cornwall. If you already ate and just want a drink, pop over to the bar and ask the bartender for their recommendation on a good beer!

La Campagna Bar & Restaurant:

This fabulous neighbourhood restaurant is where you go when you want to just pop in for a delicious bite to eat. Stop by for a snack and a glass of wine or go for a whole dinner. La Campagna serves a mixture of classic and modern Italian delicacies. Of course there is pizza, but you can also try one of their meat and fish dishes that feature mushrooms, goat cheese, risottos, along with a long list of cocktails. Make sure to save room for one of their fancy desserts to end the night with.

Honeycott’s Shake & Snack Café:

Do you want something refreshing after a long day outside? Smoothies, shakes, juice, iced coffees, alcohol, and cocktails are all available for you to enjoy. You can also partake in a tasty pastry to go with it and get your energy up for the evening. Honeycott’s was voted as having the world’s best Cornish pasty in 2017!

Spice Lounge:

In need of a more exotic menu while you traverse the English countryside? At the Spice Lounge, they serve contemporary Indian cuisine. Expert staff can help you choose the best dish if you are new to Indian cuisine. Healthy and flavourful, this award-winning restaurant is the perfect option to add a bit of spice to your trip!

Martini Restaurant:

An Italian restaurant operated by Italians to give you the most authentic and delicious cuisine. Order long-simmered soups, stone baked pizzas, homemade pasta, and classy Italian wine for a lovely night out on the town. It is an absolute must to save room for one of their mouth-watering cakes and ice cream that only real Italians know how to make!

The Herd Steak Restaurant:

Head on down to The Herd to experience Bath’s best steakhouse. All of their steaks come from a local herd of Aberdeen Angus, and Hereford crosses. While their steaks are what made them famous, they also feature chicken, seafood, lamb, and pasta. Add in their delicious selections of starters, veggies, puddings, and drinks to create a meal like you have never tasted before!

Opium Bar:

Tucked away in a residential area lies Bath’s best-known secret, the Opium Bar. This classy bar takes styles from all over the world through different time periods to create a unique experience just for you. They have everything from Renaissance interiors to Boston style service. Sip a cocktail, taste beers from around the world, or enjoy a decadent house wine.

ACCOMMODATION

During your walking holiday, you will spend each night at local English inns, pubs, family-run guest houses and hotels. Many of these accommodations date back several centuries, filled to the brim with the history of England and the Cotswold area. They are the perfect place to experience old English charm, traditional pub food and of course, a locally brewed beer at the end of the day. Selected for their warm welcome to walkers, your hosts are always happy to help you out with anything you may need. 

Bantam Tea Rooms and Guest House:

The Bantam Tea Rooms and Guest House is a traditional English tea room that now offers an exceptional bed and breakfast. Built in 1693, the Bantam Tea Rooms has a splendid view over the 17th Century Market Hall in the charming village of Chipping Campden. Their in-house bakery is a favourite for all and tempts many people to stop by for delicious treats. Guests enjoy stylish rooms and a cosy atmosphere.

The Old Post House:

Over 400 years old, The Old Post House is a classic Cotswold honey coloured stone cottage. Comfortable rooms combined with a delicious homemade breakfast makes for a great stay. The Old Post House is located in the village of Stanton (on the Cotswold Way route) and is a few minutes from the local ‘Mount Inn Pub’.

Cleeve Hill Hotel:

Cleeve Hill Hotel prides itself on being friendly and welcoming to all, especially walkers. Perched on the slopes of Cleeve Hill. Large and comfortable rooms with powerful showers make for a splendid end to a long day of walking. On top of that, cookies and cake will be waiting for you at check-in, and a freshly prepared breakfast is available in the morning before you begin the next leg of your journey.

Royal George Inn:

Located in Birdlip, the Royal George Hotel offers friendly and excellent service. Enjoy this 18th-century hotel in all of its splendour, from the 34 unique rooms and an in-house restaurant with a lovely bar. Crisp white linens and satellite TV await you in your room if you simply want to relax. Or you can pop down to the restaurant to feast on pub classics such as steaks, burgers, and lighter fare. While you are there, make sure to try a glass or ale of sip on a glass of fine wine. When you arise, take advantage of their free Full English or continental breakfast before starting your day.

Tibbiwell Lodge:

Tibbiwell Lodge was built with you in mind. While it is only 200 yards from the centre of Painswick, this lodge is nestled off to the side, giving it privacy and magnificent views over the valley. Keeping walkers in mind, Tibbiwell has a drying room for wet clothes as well as a dedicated boot washing station to help you get cleaned up at the end of the day!

Valley Views:

Valley Views is the epitome of a tranquil location. Located in the village of Middleyard, this guest house is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. With only three rooms available, Valley Views prides itself on providing outstanding service and comfort. Recently renovated, each room boasts comfortable and high-quality furnishing, free Wi-Fi, and unique amenities. In addition, every morning you will be served a home-cooked hearty English breakfast, or a lighter meal if preferred, to start your day off right.

The Swan Inn:

Located in Swinbrook, the Swan Inn is an effortlessly charming and beautiful location to enjoy on your walking holiday. Nestled on the banks of the Windrush River, this picturesque inn will continue to surprise you with its fantastic features. Take advantage of their excellent restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients to create delicious meals. If you happen to be there on a Wednesday, then you can sample their gourmet burgers on Burger Night. You can even pop on down to their sister inn, The King’s Head, for a glass of ale at their pub.

The Dog Inn:

If you are curious about what old England looked like, then look no further than The Dog Inn. Over 500 years old, this inn still holds all of the characteristics that 500 years of history can provide. Located on the Cotswold Way Walk, this is the most charming accommodation of your walking holiday. During your stay, make sure to taste a dish from their fresh fish board. If fish is not your style, they also provide a hearty and traditional menu that will fill you to the brim.

Hill Farm:

Located just beyond Cold Ashton, Hill Farm is secluded from everything to provide you with a quiet and peaceful night’s rest. Initially, Hill Farm was a working farm but was converted into a high-quality accommodation and workshop. Hill Farm only allows for two people at any time so that you can truly enjoy getting away from it all. A super king-size bed will be waiting for you (it can be converted to two singles) as well as a delicious local meal prepared in advance. If you wake up early, they will provide you with all the ingredients to prepare your own English breakfast just how you like it, or you can choose a simpler continental breakfast. This stay will be unlike any other!

Henrietta House:

Winning the 2019 Recognition of Excellence award, the Henrietta House is a perfect end to your walking holiday. This grand Georgian townhouse originated in the 1780s when this area of Bath was first being built. Its tranquil and central location makes it a favourite among tourists; also, their white linen breakfasts add a delicious beginning to every day. With 21 unique rooms designed with traditional furnishings and modern amenities, your stay will surely be lovely and relaxing.

Transport

If you’re walking the Cotswold Way, this tour begins in Chipping Campden and ends in Bath, whereas the ‘Cotswolds Villages and Trails to Stratford-upon-Avon’ begins in Moreton in Marsh and ends in Stratford upon Avon.

During your walking holiday, we will transport your luggage for each accommodation. All you will have to carry is a lightweight daypack.

Air Travel:

The closest airports to starting any of our walking tours in the Cotswolds are London Heathrow and Birmingham.

To reach either Chipping Campden or Moreton in Marsh from London Heathrow, we would suggest taking the Heathrow Express train directly to London Paddington (15 min journey) and change for train services to Moreton in Marsh (approx. 1hr 45min journey time from Paddington). Onward to Chipping Campden is 20 minute taxi journey or 30 minute bus journey.

From Birmingham Airport
To reach Moreton in Marsh, you can take the train from Birmingham Airport International Station and change in Oxford for services to Moreton in Marsh. Total journey time is around 2hrs 30mins.

If your walk starts in Chipping Campden, take the train from Birmingham International Airport to Leamington Spa. Change here for a bus service to Chipping Campden. Total journey time is around 3 hours.

Travelling by Car:

For the Cotswold Way:
Depending on your onward travel plans, we would suggest parking in Bath and taking the bus and train back to the start town of Chipping Campden. Journey time is around 4 hours.

Cotswolds Villages, Trails & Stratford-upon-Avon:
Park in Stratford upon Avon (the end destination of this tour) and take the 1-hour bus journey to Moreton in Marsh (there are 6 bus services running throughout the day).

Car from London to Bath:

To get from London to Bath via car you will begin by taking the A4 to the M4. From there you will follow the M4 to A46 in South Gloucestershire and take exit 18. Continue on A46 and drive to A3039 in Bath. This journey will take approximately 2.5 hours.

Car from Manchester to Bath:

To drive from Manchester to Bath, begin my following A5103 to M56 in Wythenshawe. Take M6 and M5 to A46 in South Gloucestershire. Next, take exit 18 from M4 and continue on A46. Drive to A 3039 in Bath. Approximate travel time will be about 3.5 hours.

Public Transportation:

If you don’t want to worry about the hassle of dealing with a car, there are plenty of options for public transportation to get you to the start of your walking holiday in Chipping Campden.

Public Transport from London to Chipping Campden:

To begin your transport to Chipping Campden, you will start at the London Marylebone Rail Station. You will take the Chiltern Railways towards Stratford-upon-Avon from Platform 1. After 2.5 hours, you will exit at the Stratford-upon-Avon stop. From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the Natwest Bank Bus Stop where you will take bus route #2 to Chipping Campden for 45 minutes. Here you will exit at Town Hall and walk about one minute to your first guest accommodation.

Public Transport from Manchester to Chipping Campden:

You will need to begin at the Manchester Piccadilly Station. You will take the cross-country Bournemouth via Stoke-on-Trent line from Platform 5. It will take around 2 hours, and you will exit at the Leamington Spa stop. From there you will transfer to the X18 Stratford-upon-Avon bus line. This will take about 40 minutes, and you will exit at the McDonalds/Warapmpw stop. Lastly, you will transfer to the British Home Stores bus stop and catch the #2 bus line to Chipping Campden. Roughly 40 minutes later, you will exit on the Town Hall stop, which is just a one-minute walk from your first accommodation.

climate/weather

The Cotswolds is located in southern England, so keeping the weather in mind is especially important when planning your walking holiday. England is known for having mixed weather, which is why we scheduled our departures during the optimum walking months of the year, from April to October.

During the months of April, May, September and October the temperatures range from around 20 °C during the day with nighttime lows of around 9.6°C at night.

June through August are when the temperatures are the hottest. Day time can reach up to 23°C, which is still considered cool and comfortable for many travellers who come from more tropical regions. There is a higher chance for precipitation during this time, with an average of 4 to 7 days a month.

In September and October, the weather can feel a bit colder, especially with the wind chill. The daily temperatures range from 19.9°C to 8.7°C. In addition, there is a higher chance of rainfall. Even with these conditions, this is the busiest tourism season of the year.

Terrain

The Cotswold Hills are made of the most complete and outstanding outcrop of Jurassic-age rocks in the region. These rocks were formed between 145 and 199 million years ago, and they extend all the way to Yorkshire. While they may not look that special to the untrained eye, this trail is a geologists paradise. The stone famous in this area is known as oolitic limestone, which is a sedimentary rock formed in the warm seas of the Jurassic age. With the eventual change in sea levels, the land slowly became what it is today with the addition of clay, silt, and sand layers. Many ancient fossils have been discovered here within the ancient rocks.

As you walk along the Cotswolds, the route will take you along rolling hills, over limestone grasslands, through ancient beechwood woodlands, and into the small villages and towns that dot along the path. The walk traverses many hills, with the total ascent being around 4,000m and the highest point just 317m above sea level.

when to walk

We have kept the rainy British weather in mind when creating this fabulous walking holiday for you. Therefore, this lovely walking holiday through the Cotswolds is available only from April to October, with the April schedule corresponding to how the holidays fall. If you are curious about more details on when to walk, see our weather section.

walking fitness levels

Typically, your walking holiday will consist of reasonably easy walking of about 25km per day with approximately 300m-600m of ascent and descent each day. The trails are well managed and traverse a variety of terrain. You will mainly be walking on forest tracks, woodland trails, bridleways, across farmland and meadows, in addition to walking through the villages and towns. For navigation, the routes are usually well marked, but for each of your walks, you will receive route notes, a map, and the GPX tracks if using your own device.

While some may think that walking the Cotswolds would be a literal walk in the park, it may prove more challenging than expected. This trail is graded as moderate, and the track will have steep hill sections, rough surfaces, and steps. Some of the rolling hills are taller than they appear, with poor weather increasing the difficulty. The walk will be most enjoyable for people who maintain a moderately active lifestyle, exercising 2 to 3 times a week.

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from place to place, you will still be carrying a light-weight day pack with you. Keep in mind that you are walking through England, which is known for its finicky weather. It is best to be prepared for a little bit of rain or wet ground. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Quick drying warm layer and/or jacket
  • Quick drying short or long sleeve t-shirts or shirts
  • Waterproof over-trousers/li>
  • Warm hat & gloves
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable waterproof walking shoes / waterproof hiking boots
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 2 to 3 litres of water (in bottle(s) or hydration system)
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Local currency & credit cards
  • Mobile phone & waterproof cover (please note that phone signal is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent, band-aids, and a small container of salt missed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with extra battery or sim cards)
  • Small battery charger for mobile phone
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking pole/s
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Personal snacks throughout the day
  • Waterproof bags to keep your personal items in your daypack dry when walking
  • Personal medication
  • Passport & credit cards (never pack your passport in your main luggage)

locations

Chipping Campden:

Come a day early or arrive in the morning before your tour begins to have plenty of time to explore Chipping Campden. On top of being the starting point for the Cotswold Way, this ancient town boasts a plethora of beautiful buildings such as the Silk Mill, the Woolstaplers Hall, and the Market Hall. In addition, throughout spring and summer, there are many festivals and events in town that you can schedule your walk around.

Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon:

Stratford-upon-Avon is primarily known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. As you pass through this town, you can visit the house where he was born and raised, which also contains an exhibition of his life. In town, you can visit other vital locations in Shakespeare’s life such as Anne Hathaway’s cottage, the Holy Trinity Church, New Place, Hall’s Croft, and Mary Arden’s House. If you want to experience more, you can see a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company or try the hop-on/hop-off bus tour.

Dover’s Hill:

Dover’s Hill sits less than two kilometres away from Chipping Campden. This natural amphitheatre boasts spectacular views of the countryside. On a sunny day, you may be able to see across the Vale of Evesham all the way to the Malvern Hills. This is a lovely spot to eat a snack or grab a drink as you enjoy the view.

Tower of Broadway:

The Tower of Broadway is an iconic landmark known for its dramatic appearance and outlook. Perched on top of the Cotswolds escarpment, on a clear day you can see 16 counties at the top of the tower. You may even get to spot their resident herd of red deer. Completed in 1798, this tower has a rich and diverse history. It has served as a holiday retreat for the members of the Arts and Crafts movement, it has housed a printing press, and been home to a series of tenant farmers. Now you can tour the three floors of exhibitions and learn about its fascinating history.

Broadway Town:

There is more to this charming little town more than meets the eye. You can stroll down High Street past the horse chestnut trees to look at the stone cottages and period houses. In town, you can visit the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery, wander through the unique shops, and visit some of their scrumptious eateries.

Stanton Village:

Stanton village is about as tiny as it gets. Its streets are lined with well preserved thatched cottages which date back several centuries. It even dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086. Many visitors are drawn to the ancient Church of St. Michael’s & All Angels; while they are not certain on how old the church is, they have found evidence of architecture that dates back to 1200 C.E. If you have time, you can stop by the Village Club for a drink.

Stanway House:

The Stanway House is an incredible example of what a Jacobean manor house is like. Originally owned by Tewkesbury Abbey for 800 years, it was then owned by the Tracy family for the next 500 years. A family, Lord and Lady Neidpath, call the Stanway House their home today. Can you imagine living in a home that is over 1000 years old with the tallest water fountain in Britain (over 300 feet) sitting in your very own water garden?

Hailes Abbey:

Founded by the Earl of Cornwall in 1246, the 13th century Cistercian Abbey was once a centre for monastic life. Now, all that is left are magical ruins and a story that will amaze you. When you visit the abbey ruins, you can also check out the museum housing the treasures of Hailes, take an audio tour, or simply enjoy a picnic on the grounds.

Winchcombe:

Take a step back in time and explore the village of Winchcombe. You can meander down Castle or Vineyard Street and gaze at the Cotswold stone cottages. If you like shopping, you can window shop or purchase a souvenir from their boutique clothing, antiques, and specialty stores. Walkers are welcome in Winchcombe; they have provided endless and beautiful footpaths to guide you through the village. Lastly, you must save time to stop at Sudeley Castle and the famous church.

Sudeley Castle:

On the edges of Winchcombe lies Sudeley Castle. This castle holds over 1000 years of history featuring England’s royalty; this includes King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I, and Richard III. Queen Katherine Parr, King Henry VIII’s last and surviving wife, died in the castle and remains there to this day, making it the only privately-owned castle in all of Britain to have a queen buried on the grounds. Today, the castle is owned by Lady Ashcombe and her family as they continue the preservation of the castle and its gardens for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Cleeve Hill:

Cleeve Hill is the highest point in Gloucestershire and in the Cotswold Hills. Located on the north-eastern edge of Cheltenham, the Cotswold Way passes right through it. Hike to the top of the hill and you can gaze out over the jaw-dropping views. On a clear day, the view can extend all the way from the Malvern Hills to the Black Mountains of Wales. There is also a viewpoint, a local favourite, for astronomical events. Just keep an eye out for the sheep who graze in this area.

Malvern Hills:

The Malvern Hills is a large area of land designed for walkers to explore nature. Taken care of by the Malvern Hills Trust Charity, the gorgeous English countryside holds everything, from peaceful riverside walks to more difficult treks along the ridge. You could spend days just exploring the Malvern Hills!

Devil’s Chimney:

The Devil’s Chimney holds unknown origins and many legends about how it came to be. Located on the trails of Leckhampton Hill, you can see over the Vale of Gloucester when visiting this fascinating twisted limestone formation. Some believe that it was created by a fanciful shepherd or a bored quarry worker. Others believe that it is the home of the devil. They say that long ago, the Devil used to sit atop Leckhampton Hill and throw stones at pilgrims on their way to church. His evil ways backfired when the stones flew back at him and buried him, forming the chimney that imprisoned him.

Crickley Hill:

Crickley Hill is known for its brutal history. While you may see a gorgeous countryside and wildflowers dotting the hills, recent archaeological excavations have revealed a long and savage history. The first structure on this hill dates back to 3500-2500 BC. It was rebuilt many times due to being continuously attacked and was eventually abandoned. History repeated itself during the Iron Age as over 400 arrowheads were found there, demonstrating yet another horrific battle. Now this landmark is visited for its fantastic views and wildlife.

Birdlip Village:

Birdlip Village sits in a historical centre dating back thousands of years. Scattering the area are settlements or burial sites from the times of the Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages. In 1879, workmen discovered three skeletons with pre-roman bracelets, bowls, necklaces, broaches, and a hand-mirror. This was considered the most prestigious groups of pre-Roman metalwork ever found in Britain. Now, Birdlip is an adorable village where many tourists come to take advantage of the proximity to wildlife and the abundance of local history. You can shop through the quaint stores, visit the tourist hotspots, or grab a beer at a local pub.

Cooper’s Hill Nature Reserve:

Along your walking holiday, you will get to pass through Cooper’s Hill Nature Reserve. This land was purchased in 1967 to prevent further spoliation of the area due to quarrying and was converted into a reserve in 1970. As you walk, you will observe the limestone grasslands, the famous beech trees, and stunning views overlooking the surrounding countryside. Plus, you will pass by the Iron Age hillfort, which is one of the largest in Gloucestershire.

Painswick:

The town of Painswick is known as “The Queen of the Cotswolds.” Sitting atop a magnificent hill, this town has historical roots in the wool industry. Now, this town has become a popular tourist destination, especially for walkers given that it is located about halfway along the Cotswold Way. Traditional stone cottages line the roads, with flowers intermingling with houses and paths. This place is a photographer’s dream, and it was the location for the BBC TV adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.” If you decide to watch the show, you will get a sneak peek of what the town looks like in the opening scenes.

Haresfield Beacon:

Haresfield Beach Estate is open to the public and contains a vast area of woodlands and grasslands. As with all of the Cotswold, the views are incredible. You will be able to see across the River Severn and all the way to the Forest of Dean on the Welsh border. There is more than just nature, you can also learn about the estate and the archaeological features still present to this day.

Kings Stanley Woolen Mill:

Located in the town of Kings Stanley, this wool mill is famous! It is a grade I listed building, shaped like a “Z”, and was the first fire-proof mill ever built. It worth taking a moment to see this incredible building with its interior rows of iron supporting columns. Nearby you can also visit a famous church, local shops, village greens, and more!

Coaley Peak:

Coaley Peak makes an idyllic location to stop for lunch along the Cotswold Way. This area was once privately owned and closed to the public, a quiet park with the Woodchester Mansion hidden within. Today the area is owned by the National Trust and is open to everyone for free. Sniff the wildflowers, let the breeze blow through your hair, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Nympsfield Long Barrow:

Standing high on the scarp of the Cotswold is Nympsfield Long Barrow. Built during the Neolithic period, it has a strange assortment of legends and stories. Excavations of the barrow happened three times over the past two centuries, where thirteen skeletons were found along with pottery. You can visit this chambered mound when you reach the peak. You can also stop here for lunch as there are many picnic tables available that will allow you to relax, eat, and enjoy the spectacular view.

Dursley:

Centred around an 18th century market house, which now serves as the Town Hall, is the lovely village of Dursley. Surrounded by hills and sitting on the Cotswold Way Trail, this village has become a hot spot for tourism. You can attend workshops, view exhibitions, visit the Prema Arts Centre, taste traditional English food, and shop at the unique stores. Dursley is a terrific place to explore and relax.

Nimbley Knoll Tyndale Monument:

Perched on top of Nimbley Knoll is the Tyndale Monument. Built in 1866, the Tyndale Monument was dedicated to the first man to translate The Bible into English, martyr William Tyndale. Numerous paths lead to the top where you will see sweeping views all the way to the Bristol Channel.

Wotton Under Edge:

Wotton Under Edge is the classic definition of small-town charm. Independent shops line the street with fabulous displays that will draw you in. Historic attractions drive tourists here every year and keep this town vibrant and welcoming to all. Grab lunch, sip a coffee, or purchase a souvenir as you pass through this adorable town.

Alderley and Hawkesbury Villages:

As you walk along the Cotswold Way, you will find yourself passing through many small towns and villages. Two tiny villages that you will get to see are the Alderley and Hawkesbury Villages. Both of these charming villages host more than meets the eye with ancient churches, quirky inns, stone cottages, and tasty pubs. They are the perfect place to rest your weary feet and grab a quick snack.

Dodington House:

Built between 1796 and 1816, Dodington house sits on 240 hectares of property. This house is considered a Roman classical country house and was built with Bath stone. This grand house is surrounded by spectacular gardens. Along with the property, there are other buildings and architecture that demonstrate how this estate transformed over the years.

Tormarton:

With just 350 people living in Tomarton, they pride themselves on their agricultural roots and traditions. There are still many active and successful farms in the area; the village revolves around them. Located north of the M4 motorway, Tormarton still holds on to its peaceful and rural setting. While passing through, it is essential to visit the 12th century St. Mary Magdalene church.

Dyrham Park:

110 hectares of ancient parkland and a stunning 17th century Baroque mansion is what Dyrham Park is all about. This popular park attracts visitors who want to catch a glimpse of the historic herd of fallow deer, learn in the mansion, walk along the trails, have a picnic in the Old Lodge area, or see the glassy ponds and wildflower orchards. This location is lovely for visitors of all ages and takes you back in time to see what it was like to live like the founder, William Blathwayt.

Cold Ashton:

Cold Ashton is a traditional and ancient village set in the tranquil English countryside. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Cold Ashton estate used to be owned by the Bath Abbey but it in 1564 it changed hands to the Mayor of Bristol, William Pepwall. Cold Ashton offers adorable Bed & Breakfasts, a gorgeous church, and an Elizabethan Manor. While the village is small, it holds commanding views over the St. Catherine’s Valley all the way to the Wiltshire Downs. This tiny village is a photographer’s dream, so make sure to have your camera ready!

Lansdowne Hill:

Lansdowne Hill is famous for the epic battle that took place during the time when the Royalists were fighting to secure South West England for the King. Even though the Royalist won a small victory, they suffered more casualties. With low munitions and a leader who was temporarily incapacitated, this left the Royalists with no other option but to withdraw in order to fight another day. Eventually, they succeeded in taking Bath and holding the southwest for the King. Now the location is lovely for learning its history, resting with a picnic lunch, and taking in the views of the countryside.

Bath:

You may want to spend an extra night or two in Bath before ending your walking holiday because there is much to do. Bath marks the end of the “Cotswold Way” at a limestone marker at the foot of the Bath Abbey Doors. Now that you have completed this tremendous walk, you can take the time to visit all of the wonders that Bath has waiting. Bath has been a centre for well-being since the time of the Romans. The glorious ancient Roman Baths and the modern Thermae Bath Spa allow you to enjoy the only natural thermal hot springs in all of Britain. In addition, Bath’s dense town centre is filled to the brim with dining, museums, galleries, cafes, and independent shops. You will want to try everything! On top of all that, Bath frequently hosts festivals, theatre, music, and sports events. You will never be bored in Bath, so reward yourself for a job well done by enjoying this pleasant destination.

non-walking activites

Blenheim Palace:

Blenheim Palace is one of the most stunning palaces in all of Britain. Visitors come from far and wide to learn about 300 years of palace history. Birthplace to one of Britain’s greatest leaders, Sir Winston Churchill, visitors can walk in his footsteps and follow the trails he once roamed. There is something for everyone here from organ recitals to buggy tours. It will take all day, so make sure to have plenty of time to explore! To visit Blenheim Palace, we’d suggest taking an overnight stay in Oxford first.

Rococo Garden:

The Rococo Garden in Painswick is one of the most glorious and elaborate gardens that you will ever see. In each season, different flowers appear in the well-maintained and loved gardens. Stroll through the vibrant colours and enjoy the curated art exhibition designed to complement the garden’s history. If you are a garden lover, then you will find nothing better in all of the Cotswold.

The Holburne Museum:

Located in Bath, the Holburne Museum attracts art lovers from around the world. In 1793, Sir Thomas William Holburne founded this art collection and it has continued to grow over ever since. After major reconstruction, the Holburne is once again open to the public and welcomes over 120,000 visitors each year. Check out the classics or visit one of the exhibitions for a lovely day of history and culture!

Victoria Art Gallery:

The Victoria Art Gallery has something for everyone in its gallery. With ever-changing displays and events, there is always something going on! Walk through the gallery, talk with the kind staff, or participate in an event. There are even summer activities present for children to get involved in the art world!

The Cotswold Cheese Company:

Founded in 2006, the Cotswold Cheese Company has become the talk of the town. This little shop made a name for itself quickly and soon expanded to other stores in the Cotswold area. With over 120 different cheeses, no cheese lover can pass up the opportunity!

Prema Arts Centre:

The Prema Arts centre is a family-friendly location that hosts live performances, music, and art exhibitions. Tourists can participate in workshops, classes, and creative experiences for both children and adults. There is always something new happening: yoga, dance classes, and concerts just to name a few! See what is happening when you are there and drop on in!

The Cotswold Water Park:

This is not your average water park. With over 150 lakes in a 10,360 sq. Hectare area, the Cotswold Water Park is extraordinary. As a centre for biodiversity protection, wildlife protection, and conservation, the park is more than just a tourist centre, but tourism is what helps to keep all of these projects funded. When you visit the Cotswold Water Park, take advantage of the gorgeous views, fantastic wildlife, and all the amenities that the park has to offer.

 

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway:

Do you love to ride on trains? The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway offers a 45 kilometre round trip with terrific views of the countryside, sleepy villages, and the Malvern Hills. This volunteer operated heritage railway helps keep history alive in a unique and fun way. Make sure to book your ticket in advance! Departures are from Broadway.

Westonbirt Arboretum:

Take a couple of hours to explore the magical tree garden that is the Westonbirt National Arboretum. With 5 national tree collections and over 2,500 different species, this is the perfect place to let your imagination run wild. See if you can discover hidden fairy rings and keep an eye out for the creatures who call this place home. Each season brings a new seasonal trial along with events and activities that are fantastic for the whole family.

The Olimpick Games:

You may think these games are spelled wrong, but they are not what you think. 2020 will mark the 408th anniversary of the Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games. These games were created in between the ancient Greek Olympics and our modern Olympic Games. Amateurs usually register on the night of the Games to compete in traditional rural games like King of the Hill, running races, tug of war, and shin-kicking. The Olimpicks are held around late May every year.

Festivals:

There are a number of local festivals throughout the year and range from the Cotswold Beer Festival in Winchcombe through to the Moreton in Marsh farm show in early September. There is of course, the May Day celebrations through the UK on May 1st where you can see traditional Morris Dancers in action on most village greens!

Wildlife Parks:

Didn’t get enough nature on your walking holiday? That is okay! The Cotswolds boast a variety of animal parks where you can get up close and personal to magnificent creatures from around the world. You can try the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens in Burford, the Cotswold Farm Park in Guiting Power, the Prinknash Bird and Deer Park in Gloucester, the Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswold Falconry Centre in Moreton-in-Marsh, or the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Slimbridge.

Golfing:

Do you love to golf? Then the Cotswolds is the perfect destination for you. With an abundance of spectacular golf courses, you can golf at a different course each day. The gorgeous countryside makes for ideal golfing conditions with panoramic views and an unhurried attitude. Play at courses like Broadway and Chipping Sodbury to get started on your golfing adventure!

Overview

OVERVIEW

The Cotswold Way National Trail winds 164 kilometres through the rolling Cotswold hills from the charming market town of Chipping Campden to the ancient city of Bath. As you walk along the Cotswold escarpment, you will be awestruck by the English countryside. Along the way, you will pass through villages like Birdlip, Painswick, and Dursley. As you wander through the town, you can see the ancient and famous stones of the Cotswolds while you window shop or relax with a delicious lunch in a local restaurant.

On the Cotswold Way, you will be astounded with views of the countryside extending for hundreds of miles. Peaceful rolling hills, wide-open skies, and a plethora of unique wildlife will bring you peace on your journey. See if you can spot frog orchid, the Chalkhill Blue Butterfly, and the Oystercatcher!

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History of the Cotswolds

History of the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is steeped in history and culture that is centuries in the making. The Cotswolds originally got its fame from its highly lucrative wool trade, with Cotswold wool being known as the best wool in all of Europe. The rolling hillsides and endless areas for pastures made for a perfect location to raise giant flocks of sheep. In the Middle Ages, that is precisely what they did, and soon 50% of England’s economy was based on wool. Abbeys and monasteries raised “Cotswold Lions,” which are sheep known for their long golden fleeces, and merchants soon became rich. The wool industry grew so large at one point that King Charles II made it mandatory for the deceased to be buried in wool; this is how the idiom “You can’t pull the wool over my eyes” came to be, meaning that “I am not dead.”

The Cotswolds created more than wool over the centuries. The trade from this area included the unique honey-coloured stone seen in the villages, silk, tobacco leaves, and as routes for salt and coaching. Even with these incredibly lucrative trade practices, the Cotswolds was not always a land of peace.

The Cotswolds was at the centre of two civil wars, one from 1642 to 1645 and another from 1648 to 1649. These wars were fought by King Charles I and his Royalists against the supporters of Parliament. The king had his headquarters at Oxford, the Parliamentarians had garrisons at Gloucester and Bristol, and there were sympathisers at Malmesbury and Cirencester. The Cotswolds held enormous strategic importance, and the first battle of the Civil War was actually fought at Edgehill, on the northern edge of the region. Eventually, the Parliamentary Force won, but not without leaving lasting impressions of war upon this glorious landscape.

Centuries have passed and the Cotswolds today has become a peaceful landscape of adorable villages, tasteful manors, and hidden gardens. You can find rest and relaxation at cute guest houses, fine dining establishments, cosy pubs, and specialised shops.

History of the Cotswold Way

The Cotswolds is a 164-kilometre-long National Trail that is centuries in the making. For hundreds of years, the trails that created the framework of the Cotswold Way were traversed by farmers, hunters, animals, and anyone else who had to pass through the region. To give an extra historical zing, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon Avon in Warwickshire, which means that earlier in his life he must have walked along these same trails perhaps musing of epic poetry.

In 1966, the Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Soon after, in 1970, this path was established in conjunction with the Cotswold AONB by the members of the Rambler’s Association. Almost 30 years later, in 1998, the national trail was approved for development; although it was not until May of 2007 that the path was formally launched. This is one of only 16 trails of its kind in all of England and Wales, making it a unique cultural experience that visitors love to flock to each year.

Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna

The Cotswolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 due to its rare limestone grasslands, ancient beech woodlands, and being the habitat for some of the most endangered species in British wildlife. The area covers 2038 sq. Km, which is over 80% farmland, making this the largest AONB in all of England and Wales.

Sheltered wooded valleys are primarily made up of ancient beechwoods, but ash, oak, elm, field maple, and whitebeam can also be found. Bramble and ivy create a thick undergrowth, a haven for small woodland creatures. Rarer plants also make an appearance under the shelter of the trees. You can find yellow star-of-Bethlehem, stinking hellebore, and fingered sedge. As you walk along the trails, you will spot the wild colours of bluebells, violets, primroses, early-purple orchids, and more.

The limestone grasslands that make up much of your journey have become rich and dense in flora due to hundreds of years of grazing. You will be able to spot cowslips, rock-rose, wild thyme, yellow rattle, kidney vetch, and many more plant species dotting the landscape. This area is well known for its plethora of orchids; you can see the greater butterfly orchids, bee orchids, frog orchids, musk orchids, and the rare green-winged orchids. If you have a love of flowers, then this is the place for you. There will be more flowers than you ever expected to see, right at your fingertips. Crickley Hills has actually been marked as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its wildflowers, one of which encourages the return of the Chalkhill Blue butterfly each year.

With all of the protective undergrowth and wildflower-laden meadows, this area is a haven for animals that once were at risk for extinction. With the help of conservation efforts, animals such as water voles, owls, and otters have made a comeback in this area.
Birdwatching is also a favourite in this region. It is so popular that the Cotswold Water Park Trust runs guided walks and puts out a seasonal leaflet indicating which birds are anticipated to be around. In springtime, warblers, hirundines, nightingales, hobbies, and occasionally a red-footed falcon can be seen. The little ringed plover, the oystercatcher, and a large variety of ducks can be found in the summer. If you happen to be visiting in Autumn, then you may be able to witness the vast numbers of birds migrating south for the winter. While England may not be considered a nature hub by the average tourist, you will be surprised at all the charming creatures hiding in plain sight.

Local Cuisine

Local Cuisine

When travelling to England, it is essential to taste the local food. Fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, toad in the hole, and traditional roast beef some of the classic British dishes that are served in most local pubs across the Cotswolds. You can also find a wide variety of global restaurants (such as Italian and Indian) along with high class dining establishments that include, 5 North Street (a Michelin star restaurant in Winchcombe).

In addition, beer is considered one of the most critical aspects of British life. The quality and variety are extraordinary, and if you are looking for your perfect beer, then this is the place to find it!

Fig:

Located in the Cotswold House Hotel, Fig is one of the more formal dining options available in Chipping Campden. You can choose between a 2-course, 3-course, or tasting menu for your dining pleasure. The style of the food is modern Italian with a Mediterranean flair. This popular restaurant is in high demand, so it would be wise to book in advance.

Michael’s Mediterranean:

With a building dating back to 1720, Michael’s Mediterranean is located in the heart of Chipping Campden. Relax and dine on the terrace in the summer or by the open fires when it gets chilly. Michael’s offers traditional Greek dining, including fresh seafood and fillet steaks that are locally sourced.

The Mount Inn:

In the heart of Stanton village, sample classic pub dishes such as bangers and mash, or a locally reared beef dish such as steak and ale pie or a juicy sirloin steak. You can also sample several of the cask ales available at the Mount Inn brewed at the nearby Donnington Brewery at Stow on the Wold.

Russell’s Fish & Chips:

Just off of High Street is the place to go for great fish & chips. Only the freshest of fish is served at this restaurant. If you have never tried mushy peas before, you must try them now. They taste better than they sound! Dine in and talk with the friendly staff or take away back to your accommodation.

The Golden Heart Inn:

If you want a few more dining options than the traditional go-to, you can head a bit outside of Birdlip to the Golden Heart Inn. Here they serve a comprehensive menu that has something for everyone, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more exotic dishes. You can try their barn bar for private dining. There is a coffee lounge and a gorgeous patio overlooking the valley, truly something for everyone!

The Painswick Hotel & Restaurant:

Designed for food lovers, the Painswick is the best place to share, as they feature a Smorgasbord style of dining. Be tempted by their ricotta dumplings, Cornish cod, beef wellington, and everything else that their delightful menu has to offer. Vibrant and delicious food in a charming setting will leave you with a smile on your face.

The Corner House:

The Corner House prides itself on fresh ingredients. Their goal is to create delicious and flavourful foods that will make your taste buds sing. You can try their smoked duck breast, vegetable spring rolls, and lamb cutlets without breaking the bank. You will leave full and satisfied!

Kings Head Pub:

Kings Head Pub is located at the sister inn to the Swan Inn. If you are looking for hearty and filling traditional English food, then look no further. Using locally sourced produce, the Kings Head Pub includes a seasonal menu with all the freshest and most vibrant dishes. Try Angus beef from Bledington and fresh fish from Cornwall. If you already ate and just want a drink, pop over to the bar and ask the bartender for their recommendation on a good beer!

La Campagna Bar & Restaurant:

This fabulous neighbourhood restaurant is where you go when you want to just pop in for a delicious bite to eat. Stop by for a snack and a glass of wine or go for a whole dinner. La Campagna serves a mixture of classic and modern Italian delicacies. Of course there is pizza, but you can also try one of their meat and fish dishes that feature mushrooms, goat cheese, risottos, along with a long list of cocktails. Make sure to save room for one of their fancy desserts to end the night with.

Honeycott’s Shake & Snack Café:

Do you want something refreshing after a long day outside? Smoothies, shakes, juice, iced coffees, alcohol, and cocktails are all available for you to enjoy. You can also partake in a tasty pastry to go with it and get your energy up for the evening. Honeycott’s was voted as having the world’s best Cornish pasty in 2017!

Spice Lounge:

In need of a more exotic menu while you traverse the English countryside? At the Spice Lounge, they serve contemporary Indian cuisine. Expert staff can help you choose the best dish if you are new to Indian cuisine. Healthy and flavourful, this award-winning restaurant is the perfect option to add a bit of spice to your trip!

Martini Restaurant:

An Italian restaurant operated by Italians to give you the most authentic and delicious cuisine. Order long-simmered soups, stone baked pizzas, homemade pasta, and classy Italian wine for a lovely night out on the town. It is an absolute must to save room for one of their mouth-watering cakes and ice cream that only real Italians know how to make!

The Herd Steak Restaurant:

Head on down to The Herd to experience Bath’s best steakhouse. All of their steaks come from a local herd of Aberdeen Angus, and Hereford crosses. While their steaks are what made them famous, they also feature chicken, seafood, lamb, and pasta. Add in their delicious selections of starters, veggies, puddings, and drinks to create a meal like you have never tasted before!

Opium Bar:

Tucked away in a residential area lies Bath’s best-known secret, the Opium Bar. This classy bar takes styles from all over the world through different time periods to create a unique experience just for you. They have everything from Renaissance interiors to Boston style service. Sip a cocktail, taste beers from around the world, or enjoy a decadent house wine.

ACCOMMODATION

ACCOMMODATION

During your walking holiday, you will spend each night at local English inns, pubs, family-run guest houses and hotels. Many of these accommodations date back several centuries, filled to the brim with the history of England and the Cotswold area. They are the perfect place to experience old English charm, traditional pub food and of course, a locally brewed beer at the end of the day. Selected for their warm welcome to walkers, your hosts are always happy to help you out with anything you may need. 

Bantam Tea Rooms and Guest House:

The Bantam Tea Rooms and Guest House is a traditional English tea room that now offers an exceptional bed and breakfast. Built in 1693, the Bantam Tea Rooms has a splendid view over the 17th Century Market Hall in the charming village of Chipping Campden. Their in-house bakery is a favourite for all and tempts many people to stop by for delicious treats. Guests enjoy stylish rooms and a cosy atmosphere.

The Old Post House:

Over 400 years old, The Old Post House is a classic Cotswold honey coloured stone cottage. Comfortable rooms combined with a delicious homemade breakfast makes for a great stay. The Old Post House is located in the village of Stanton (on the Cotswold Way route) and is a few minutes from the local ‘Mount Inn Pub’.

Cleeve Hill Hotel:

Cleeve Hill Hotel prides itself on being friendly and welcoming to all, especially walkers. Perched on the slopes of Cleeve Hill. Large and comfortable rooms with powerful showers make for a splendid end to a long day of walking. On top of that, cookies and cake will be waiting for you at check-in, and a freshly prepared breakfast is available in the morning before you begin the next leg of your journey.

Royal George Inn:

Located in Birdlip, the Royal George Hotel offers friendly and excellent service. Enjoy this 18th-century hotel in all of its splendour, from the 34 unique rooms and an in-house restaurant with a lovely bar. Crisp white linens and satellite TV await you in your room if you simply want to relax. Or you can pop down to the restaurant to feast on pub classics such as steaks, burgers, and lighter fare. While you are there, make sure to try a glass or ale of sip on a glass of fine wine. When you arise, take advantage of their free Full English or continental breakfast before starting your day.

Tibbiwell Lodge:

Tibbiwell Lodge was built with you in mind. While it is only 200 yards from the centre of Painswick, this lodge is nestled off to the side, giving it privacy and magnificent views over the valley. Keeping walkers in mind, Tibbiwell has a drying room for wet clothes as well as a dedicated boot washing station to help you get cleaned up at the end of the day!

Valley Views:

Valley Views is the epitome of a tranquil location. Located in the village of Middleyard, this guest house is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. With only three rooms available, Valley Views prides itself on providing outstanding service and comfort. Recently renovated, each room boasts comfortable and high-quality furnishing, free Wi-Fi, and unique amenities. In addition, every morning you will be served a home-cooked hearty English breakfast, or a lighter meal if preferred, to start your day off right.

The Swan Inn:

Located in Swinbrook, the Swan Inn is an effortlessly charming and beautiful location to enjoy on your walking holiday. Nestled on the banks of the Windrush River, this picturesque inn will continue to surprise you with its fantastic features. Take advantage of their excellent restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients to create delicious meals. If you happen to be there on a Wednesday, then you can sample their gourmet burgers on Burger Night. You can even pop on down to their sister inn, The King’s Head, for a glass of ale at their pub.

The Dog Inn:

If you are curious about what old England looked like, then look no further than The Dog Inn. Over 500 years old, this inn still holds all of the characteristics that 500 years of history can provide. Located on the Cotswold Way Walk, this is the most charming accommodation of your walking holiday. During your stay, make sure to taste a dish from their fresh fish board. If fish is not your style, they also provide a hearty and traditional menu that will fill you to the brim.

Hill Farm:

Located just beyond Cold Ashton, Hill Farm is secluded from everything to provide you with a quiet and peaceful night’s rest. Initially, Hill Farm was a working farm but was converted into a high-quality accommodation and workshop. Hill Farm only allows for two people at any time so that you can truly enjoy getting away from it all. A super king-size bed will be waiting for you (it can be converted to two singles) as well as a delicious local meal prepared in advance. If you wake up early, they will provide you with all the ingredients to prepare your own English breakfast just how you like it, or you can choose a simpler continental breakfast. This stay will be unlike any other!

Henrietta House:

Winning the 2019 Recognition of Excellence award, the Henrietta House is a perfect end to your walking holiday. This grand Georgian townhouse originated in the 1780s when this area of Bath was first being built. Its tranquil and central location makes it a favourite among tourists; also, their white linen breakfasts add a delicious beginning to every day. With 21 unique rooms designed with traditional furnishings and modern amenities, your stay will surely be lovely and relaxing.

Transport

Transport

If you’re walking the Cotswold Way, this tour begins in Chipping Campden and ends in Bath, whereas the ‘Cotswolds Villages and Trails to Stratford-upon-Avon’ begins in Moreton in Marsh and ends in Stratford upon Avon.

During your walking holiday, we will transport your luggage for each accommodation. All you will have to carry is a lightweight daypack.

1. Air Travel:

The closest airports to starting any of our walking tours in the Cotswolds are London Heathrow and Birmingham.

To reach either Chipping Campden or Moreton in Marsh from London Heathrow, we would suggest taking the Heathrow Express train directly to London Paddington (15 min journey) and change for train services to Moreton in Marsh (approx. 1hr 45min journey time from Paddington). Onward to Chipping Campden is 20 minute taxi journey or 30 minute bus journey.

From Birmingham Airport
To reach Moreton in Marsh, you can take the train from Birmingham Airport International Station and change in Oxford for services to Moreton in Marsh. Total journey time is around 2hrs 30mins.

If your walk starts in Chipping Campden, take the train from Birmingham International Airport to Leamington Spa. Change here for a bus service to Chipping Campden. Total journey time is around 3 hours.

2. Travelling by Car:

For the Cotswold Way:
Depending on your onward travel plans, we would suggest parking in Bath and taking the bus and train back to the start town of Chipping Campden. Journey time is around 4 hours.

Cotswolds Villages, Trails & Stratford-upon-Avon:
Park in Stratford upon Avon (the end destination of this tour) and take the 1-hour bus journey to Moreton in Marsh (there are 6 bus services running throughout the day).

3. Car from London to Bath:

To get from London to Bath via car you will begin by taking the A4 to the M4. From there you will follow the M4 to A46 in South Gloucestershire and take exit 18. Continue on A46 and drive to A3039 in Bath. This journey will take approximately 2.5 hours.

4. Car from Manchester to Bath:

To drive from Manchester to Bath, begin my following A5103 to M56 in Wythenshawe. Take M6 and M5 to A46 in South Gloucestershire. Next, take exit 18 from M4 and continue on A46. Drive to A 3039 in Bath. Approximate travel time will be about 3.5 hours.

5. Public Transportation:

If you don’t want to worry about the hassle of dealing with a car, there are plenty of options for public transportation to get you to the start of your walking holiday in Chipping Campden.

6. Public Transport from London to Chipping Campden:

To begin your transport to Chipping Campden, you will start at the London Marylebone Rail Station. You will take the Chiltern Railways towards Stratford-upon-Avon from Platform 1. After 2.5 hours, you will exit at the Stratford-upon-Avon stop. From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the Natwest Bank Bus Stop where you will take bus route #2 to Chipping Campden for 45 minutes. Here you will exit at Town Hall and walk about one minute to your first guest accommodation.

7. Public Transport from Manchester to Chipping Campden:

You will need to begin at the Manchester Piccadilly Station. You will take the cross-country Bournemouth via Stoke-on-Trent line from Platform 5. It will take around 2 hours, and you will exit at the Leamington Spa stop. From there you will transfer to the X18 Stratford-upon-Avon bus line. This will take about 40 minutes, and you will exit at the McDonalds/Warapmpw stop. Lastly, you will transfer to the British Home Stores bus stop and catch the #2 bus line to Chipping Campden. Roughly 40 minutes later, you will exit on the Town Hall stop, which is just a one-minute walk from your first accommodation.

climate/weather

climate/weather

The Cotswolds is located in southern England, so keeping the weather in mind is especially important when planning your walking holiday. England is known for having mixed weather, which is why we scheduled our departures during the optimum walking months of the year, from April to October.

During the months of April, May, September and October the temperatures range from around 20 °C during the day with nighttime lows of around 9.6°C at night.

June through August are when the temperatures are the hottest. Day time can reach up to 23°C, which is still considered cool and comfortable for many travellers who come from more tropical regions. There is a higher chance for precipitation during this time, with an average of 4 to 7 days a month.

In September and October, the weather can feel a bit colder, especially with the wind chill. The daily temperatures range from 19.9°C to 8.7°C. In addition, there is a higher chance of rainfall. Even with these conditions, this is the busiest tourism season of the year.

Terrain

Terrain

The Cotswold Hills are made of the most complete and outstanding outcrop of Jurassic-age rocks in the region. These rocks were formed between 145 and 199 million years ago, and they extend all the way to Yorkshire. While they may not look that special to the untrained eye, this trail is a geologists paradise. The stone famous in this area is known as oolitic limestone, which is a sedimentary rock formed in the warm seas of the Jurassic age. With the eventual change in sea levels, the land slowly became what it is today with the addition of clay, silt, and sand layers. Many ancient fossils have been discovered here within the ancient rocks.

As you walk along the Cotswolds, the route will take you along rolling hills, over limestone grasslands, through ancient beechwood woodlands, and into the small villages and towns that dot along the path. The walk traverses many hills, with the total ascent being around 4,000m and the highest point just 317m above sea level.

when to walk

when to walk

We have kept the rainy British weather in mind when creating this fabulous walking holiday for you. Therefore, this lovely walking holiday through the Cotswolds is available only from April to October, with the April schedule corresponding to how the holidays fall. If you are curious about more details on when to walk, see our weather section.

walking fitness levels

walking fitness levels

Typically, your walking holiday will consist of reasonably easy walking of about 25km per day with approximately 300m-600m of ascent and descent each day. The trails are well managed and traverse a variety of terrain. You will mainly be walking on forest tracks, woodland trails, bridleways, across farmland and meadows, in addition to walking through the villages and towns. For navigation, the routes are usually well marked, but for each of your walks, you will receive route notes, a map, and the GPX tracks if using your own device.

While some may think that walking the Cotswolds would be a literal walk in the park, it may prove more challenging than expected. This trail is graded as moderate, and the track will have steep hill sections, rough surfaces, and steps. Some of the rolling hills are taller than they appear, with poor weather increasing the difficulty. The walk will be most enjoyable for people who maintain a moderately active lifestyle, exercising 2 to 3 times a week.

walking essentials

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from place to place, you will still be carrying a light-weight day pack with you. Keep in mind that you are walking through England, which is known for its finicky weather. It is best to be prepared for a little bit of rain or wet ground. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Quick drying warm layer and/or jacket
  • Quick drying short or long sleeve t-shirts or shirts
  • Waterproof over-trousers/li>
  • Warm hat & gloves
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable waterproof walking shoes / waterproof hiking boots
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 2 to 3 litres of water (in bottle(s) or hydration system)
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Local currency & credit cards
  • Mobile phone & waterproof cover (please note that phone signal is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent, band-aids, and a small container of salt missed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with extra battery or sim cards)
  • Small battery charger for mobile phone
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking pole/s
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Personal snacks throughout the day
  • Waterproof bags to keep your personal items in your daypack dry when walking
  • Personal medication
  • Passport & credit cards (never pack your passport in your main luggage)
locations

locations

non-walking activites

non-walking activites

Blenheim Palace:

Blenheim Palace is one of the most stunning palaces in all of Britain. Visitors come from far and wide to learn about 300 years of palace history. Birthplace to one of Britain’s greatest leaders, Sir Winston Churchill, visitors can walk in his footsteps and follow the trails he once roamed. There is something for everyone here from organ recitals to buggy tours. It will take all day, so make sure to have plenty of time to explore! To visit Blenheim Palace, we’d suggest taking an overnight stay in Oxford first.

Rococo Garden:

The Rococo Garden in Painswick is one of the most glorious and elaborate gardens that you will ever see. In each season, different flowers appear in the well-maintained and loved gardens. Stroll through the vibrant colours and enjoy the curated art exhibition designed to complement the garden’s history. If you are a garden lover, then you will find nothing better in all of the Cotswold.

The Holburne Museum:

Located in Bath, the Holburne Museum attracts art lovers from around the world. In 1793, Sir Thomas William Holburne founded this art collection and it has continued to grow over ever since. After major reconstruction, the Holburne is once again open to the public and welcomes over 120,000 visitors each year. Check out the classics or visit one of the exhibitions for a lovely day of history and culture!

Victoria Art Gallery:

The Victoria Art Gallery has something for everyone in its gallery. With ever-changing displays and events, there is always something going on! Walk through the gallery, talk with the kind staff, or participate in an event. There are even summer activities present for children to get involved in the art world!

The Cotswold Cheese Company:

Founded in 2006, the Cotswold Cheese Company has become the talk of the town. This little shop made a name for itself quickly and soon expanded to other stores in the Cotswold area. With over 120 different cheeses, no cheese lover can pass up the opportunity!

Prema Arts Centre:

The Prema Arts centre is a family-friendly location that hosts live performances, music, and art exhibitions. Tourists can participate in workshops, classes, and creative experiences for both children and adults. There is always something new happening: yoga, dance classes, and concerts just to name a few! See what is happening when you are there and drop on in!

The Cotswold Water Park:

This is not your average water park. With over 150 lakes in a 10,360 sq. Hectare area, the Cotswold Water Park is extraordinary. As a centre for biodiversity protection, wildlife protection, and conservation, the park is more than just a tourist centre, but tourism is what helps to keep all of these projects funded. When you visit the Cotswold Water Park, take advantage of the gorgeous views, fantastic wildlife, and all the amenities that the park has to offer.

 

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway:

Do you love to ride on trains? The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway offers a 45 kilometre round trip with terrific views of the countryside, sleepy villages, and the Malvern Hills. This volunteer operated heritage railway helps keep history alive in a unique and fun way. Make sure to book your ticket in advance! Departures are from Broadway.

Westonbirt Arboretum:

Take a couple of hours to explore the magical tree garden that is the Westonbirt National Arboretum. With 5 national tree collections and over 2,500 different species, this is the perfect place to let your imagination run wild. See if you can discover hidden fairy rings and keep an eye out for the creatures who call this place home. Each season brings a new seasonal trial along with events and activities that are fantastic for the whole family.

The Olimpick Games:

You may think these games are spelled wrong, but they are not what you think. 2020 will mark the 408th anniversary of the Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games. These games were created in between the ancient Greek Olympics and our modern Olympic Games. Amateurs usually register on the night of the Games to compete in traditional rural games like King of the Hill, running races, tug of war, and shin-kicking. The Olimpicks are held around late May every year.

Festivals:

There are a number of local festivals throughout the year and range from the Cotswold Beer Festival in Winchcombe through to the Moreton in Marsh farm show in early September. There is of course, the May Day celebrations through the UK on May 1st where you can see traditional Morris Dancers in action on most village greens!

Wildlife Parks:

Didn’t get enough nature on your walking holiday? That is okay! The Cotswolds boast a variety of animal parks where you can get up close and personal to magnificent creatures from around the world. You can try the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens in Burford, the Cotswold Farm Park in Guiting Power, the Prinknash Bird and Deer Park in Gloucester, the Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswold Falconry Centre in Moreton-in-Marsh, or the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Slimbridge.

Golfing:

Do you love to golf? Then the Cotswolds is the perfect destination for you. With an abundance of spectacular golf courses, you can golf at a different course each day. The gorgeous countryside makes for ideal golfing conditions with panoramic views and an unhurried attitude. Play at courses like Broadway and Chipping Sodbury to get started on your golfing adventure!

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