The Cotswold Way is an iconic long-distance walking trail that meanders through the stunning countryside, magical woodlands and ancient villages of the Cotswolds.
Steeped in history, tradition and beauty every step-of-the-way, the trail rewards challengers with 102 miles (164 kilometers) of magical hiking through one of the prettiest areas in the UK.
The Cotswold Way begins in the picturesque market town of Chipping Campden and finishes in the World Heritage City of Bath.
The route runs for most of its length along the Cotswold escarpment—which offers wonderful long-distance views over the surrounding lowlands—and passes a plethora of historic sites, including the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap, Hailes Abbey, Roman heritage sites at Bath, as well as many beautiful churches, monuments and historic manor houses.
If you research the Cotswold Way online, you will find a host of tour companies offering guided or self-guided packages. While this is absolutely fine, it is by no-means essential.
This Collection offers you an easy-to-follow seven-day plan to take on the Cotswold Way. In every route, all the historic sites and points of interest are flagged up for you. There is even a recommended accommodation option for every night and, where possible, a budget option.
For the purposes of this Collection, we have opted for challenging hikes so you complete the route in one week. To undertake this, you will need a good level of fitness and comfortable walking boots. That said, the gently undulating landscape of the Cotswolds makes for relatively leisurely hiking, so these routes are not as difficult as they might first appear.
However, if you feel these routes are a little long, or if you want to allow a little more time to explore the many points of interest, it can very easily be undertaken in a fortnight. If this sounds more suitable, try splitting the route as follows:
1. Chipping Campden to Broadway: 6 miles (9.6 kilometers)
2. Broadway to Wood Stanway: 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers)
3. Wood Stanway to Winchcombe: 5.4 miles (8.8 kilometers)
4. Winchcombe to Cleeve Hill: 5.6 miles (9 kilometers)
5. Cleeve Hill to Leckhampton Hill: 10.2 miles (16.4 kilometers)
6. Leckhampton Hill to Birdlip: 5.6 miles (9 kilometers)
7. Birdlip to Painswick: 8.6 miles (13.9 kilometers)
8. Painswick to King’s Stanley: 7.8 miles (12.6 kilometers)
9. King’s Stanley to Dursley: 7.2 miles (11.6 kilometers)
10. Dursley to Wotton-Under-Edge: 7.3 miles (11.8 kilometers)
11. Wotton-Under-Edge to Hawkesbury Upton: 7.4 miles (11.9 kilometers)
12. Hawkesbury Upton to Tormarton: 7.7 miles (12.4 kilometers)
13. Tormarton to Cold Ashton: 6.6 miles (10.6 kilometers)
14. Cold Ashton to Bath: 10.2 miles (16.4 kilometers)
If you intend to arrive by car, Chipping Campden Taxis offer a fantastic service for hikers undertaking the Cotswold Way. For £5 a day, you can leave your vehicle with them in a secure, monitored car park with electronic gates.
Once you have finished the route, they can provide a taxi from Bath for £135. Alternatively, you can catch a train from Bath to Ashchurch and then catch a taxi back to Chipping Campden for £40. If you use the taxi service—for any journey—you receive a £5 discount on parking. For more information call 01386 840111 or visit chippingcampdentaxis.co.uk/cotswoldwaycarparking.
If you intend to come via public transport, the nearest railway station to Chipping Campden is Moreton-in-Marsh, which is served by frequent services from London Paddington and Birmingham. You can then take the number one bus service from Moreton-in-Marsh to Chipping Campden, or catch a taxi. Once you have completed the route, there are services all over the country from Bath Railway Station.
For bus times between Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden visit bustimes.org/services/1-stratford-upon-avon-mickleton-chipping-campden-m.
For train timetables, tickets and prices, visit thetrainline.com.
For more information about The Cotswold Way, visit nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold-way and for more information about The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, visit cotswolds.com.
The first leg of the Cotswold Way starts in Chipping Campden, a historic wool-merchant town with medieval architecture and one of the most beautiful high streets in England.
From there, the trail takes you out on to the Cotswolds escarpment which affords stunning views from Dover’s Hill. You continue across the fields to Broadway Tower and down into the picturesque village of Broadway; dominated by a wide main street lined with independent shops, restaurants and antique dealers.
After leaving Broadway, the trail climbs up onto the escarpment again before descending into Stanton; an unspoiled village where the majority of buildings are more than 400 years-old.
From here, it is a leisurely stroll across Stanway Estate, with manor house and the highest gravity fed fountain in Europe. You finish in the hamlet of Wood Stanway.
Wood Stanway Farmhouse bed and breakfast
Located in the idyllic village, the farmhouse dates back to the 1600s and offers single, double and twin rooms. Prices start at £35 per night. For more information call 01386 584318 or visit woodstanwayfarmhouse.co.uk.
Hayles Fruit Farm campsite
Nestling in outstanding countryside, this site has tent pitches and bell tents for hire. Prices start from £9 per person. Campsite facilities include: toilets and showers, farmshop, restaurant and tearoom. For more information, call 01242 602123 or visit haylesfruitfarm.co.uk.
The second day begins with a steep climb from Wood Stanway onto the escarpment. Your efforts are richly rewarded, though, as the views across the Vale of Evesham and the Malverns are magnificent.
After passing the Iron Age hill fort of Beckbury Camp, you drop down to the glorious Hailes Abbey. Founded in 1246 by the Earl of Cornwall, the abbey was once the centre of monastic life. Today the tranquil ruins are a perfect place for a moment’s relaxation.
The trail continues through farmland into the ancient Anglo Saxon town of Winchcombe. In the early 17th century, the town was synonymous with tobacco cultivation until it was banned in 1619.
From Winchcombe you meander through the the Sudeley Estate and climb steadily to Belas Knap, a fine example of a Neolithic long barrow.
The path then descends steeply through Breakheart Plantation, past Postlip Hall before climbing to the Golf Club House at Cleeve Hill, where you finish.
Cleeve Hill Hotel
Set in peaceful surroundings, Cleeve Hill Hotel is dog and walker friendly. Rooms are large with decent baths and showers. Prices start from around £100 per night. The hotel also serves freshly prepared breakfasts using local ingredients. For more information call 01242 672052 or visit cleevehillhotel.co.uk/en.
Rising Sun Hotel
This hotel, restaurant and pub is set in fabulous location on the Cotswold Way. Dog friendly and walker friendly, rooms start from around £50 per night. For more information call 01242 676281 or visit greenekinginns.co.uk/hotels/rising-sun-hotel.
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Day three begins at the highest point along the Cotswold Way, Cleeve Common; where you are treated to extensive views over Cheltenham and the surrounding landscape.
The trail then descends through Dowdeswell Wood and passes through Lineover Wood, which is renowned for its lime trees and heritage beech.
You then climb up to Wistley Plantation before descending very close to Seven Springs, believed to be the source of the Thames. From there, you climb onto Charlton Kings Common where you are treated to fabulous views across Cheltenham and the Severn Vale.
You then follow the escarpment onto Leckhampton Hill, home to the Devil’s Chimney; an unusual limestone rock formation above a disused quarry.
After leaving Leckhampton Hill, you follow quiet tracks, lanes and paths into Crickley Hill Country Park, which has many viewpoints and information about archaeological finds in the area.
You then cross the undulating grassland of Barrow Wake, then head into woodland until you emerge at Birdlip, the finish point for the day.
Royal George Hotel
With spectacular views of the countryside, this hotel, pub and restaurant is well-positioned on the Cotswold Way. Prices start from £55 for a double room. For more information call 01452 862506 or visit greenekinginns.co.uk/hotels/royal-george-hotel.
This eco-friendly campsite offers a range of accommodation for couples and families, just off the Cotswold Way. Facilities include: toilets and showers, fire pit, barbeque area and on-site bistro. Prices start from £40 for two people. For more information call 01242 527631 or visit nationalstar.org/products-services-facilities/star-glamping.
The fourth leg starts nearby the remains of a Roman villa before ascending Cooper’s Hill, the site of the most bizarre contest in England: cheese rolling.
The world-famous event, which has been running for hundreds of years, sees more than 40 contestants chase a nine-pound (five kilogram) wheel of Double Gloucester, which races at speeds above 70mph (113kph), down the steep hill. The first runner to get to the bottom wins the contest—and the cheese!
The trail then takes you to Painswick Beacon, where you are afforded incredible views from the remains of an Iron Age hill fort.
From there, you descend into Painswick; described as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ and the midway point.
The trail descends and then climbs onto Edge Common. You then plunge into woodland and emerge at Haresfield Beacon which affords breathtaking views over the Severn Estuary, Gloucester and the Forest of Dean.
The route then descends gently through Standish Woods, into the Stroud Valleys and through lush grass pastures. From Stroudwater Navigation, you finish in the village of Kings Stanley.
Orchardene bed and breakfast
Very close to the Cotswold Way, this homely cottage, built in the early 1820s, has twin and double en-suite rooms. Prices start from £55 per person, or £75 for a couple. For more information call 01453 822684 or visit orchardene.co.uk.
Court Farm campsite
This campsite is set close to Kings Stanley and offers a range of pitching options. Facilities include toilets and showers. Prices from around £10 per night. For more information call 07769 686362 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day five leaves King’s Stanley, passes through the village of Middleyard and then ascends into Penn Wood.
You then hike through woodland to Nympsfield Long Barrow; one of the earliest examples of a Neolithic barrow. From there, it is a short step to Coaley Peak, where you are afforded spectacular views across the Severn Vale and the Forest of Dean.
You then follow a woodland path that emerges into the valley with Cam Long Down ahead. The climb up is steep, but you are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. From there, you descend into the valley and into Dursley.
It is a steep climb from the market town up to Stinchcombe Hill. For the best views, follow the route around the perimeter of the hill rather than the shortcut from the golf club.
The trail then descends through woodland, into farmland, and follows a track into the village of North Nibley. From here, you have another steep ascent to the Tyndale Monument before the route levels out across grassland and through woodland leading onto Wotton Hill.
The trail then descends into the town of Wotton-under-Edge, where you finish for the day.
The Swan Hotel
Situated close to the Cotswold Way, this hotel is a converted 17th-century coaching inn that offers 13 en-suite guest rooms, a restaurant and bar. The hotel is dog and walker friendly. Prices start from £65 per night for a twin room. For more information call 01453 843004 or visit swanhotelwotton.com.
To start day six, you climb up onto the escarpment once again and pass close to the National Trust property of Newark Park.
You then follow a woodland track to the village of Alderley. From there, you meander through a peaceful valley where a Medieval ridge-and-furrow is visible. It is then a gentle ascent to the Somerset Monument before you reach the village of Hawkesbury Upton.
After passing an ancient drover’s pond, you follow Bath Lane to the National Trust property of Horton Court; a 16th century manor house that boasts a 12th-century Norman hall.
You then climb up to Woodcock Farm Hill Fort, a well-preserved Iron Age hill fort with incredible views over the Frome Valley, Severn Vale and the Welsh mountains.
The trail then crosses farmland into the villages of Horton and Old Sodbury, then through the parkland of Dodington Park. After crossing the final few fields, you finish in the village of Tormarton.
The Best Western Compass Inn Hotel
Set in six acres of grounds, this hotel has a restaurant and bar. There are a range of rooms available and dogs are welcome for £10 extra. Prices start from £60 for a twin room. For more information call 01454 218242 or visit bestwestern.co.uk/hotels/best-western-the-compass-inn-83340.
Cotswold Meadow Camping
This glamping and camping site offers a range of tents to hire and pitching spots. Facilities include: kitchen and dining area, toilet and showers, fire pits, onsite powerpoints and 4G phone reception. Prices start from £10 per person. For more information call 07789 081899 or visit cotswoldmeadowcamping.co.uk.
The final leg of the Cotswold Way leaves Tormarton and crosses farmland to Dyrham Park; home to an ancient deer park and a 7th-century manor.
From there, you climb through Dyrham Woods, emerge into farmland until and follow the path until you reach the village of Cold Ashton.
You then descend into the secluded valley at Lower Hamswell before climbing to the civil war battle site of Lansdown. The trail levels out here before passing the hill fort at Little Down and Bath Racecourse.
The path then emerges at Prospect Stile, where you get your first sight of Bath below and Bristol in the distance.
From here, the trail passes through farmland before ascending Kelston Roundhill, which rewards you with an excellent 360 degree view which even extends to Wales.
As you descend into Bath, the trail takes you past many of the iconic landmarks, including the Royal Crescent, Royal Victoria Park and the Assembly Rooms before finishing at Bath Abbey. Here, you will find a carved stone disc set into the pavement to mark the end of the Cotswold Way.
Henry Guest House
Located at the heart of Bath in an historic 18th-century townhouse, this luxurious guesthouse offers seven en-suite rooms (except the single room which has a private shower room) and ‘legendary’ breakfasts. Prices start from £90 per room. For more information call 01225 424052 or visit thehenry.com.
Travelodge Bath City Centre
This central hotel is minutes away from the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Southgate Mall and the Theatre Royal. There are a range of rooms available. Prices start from £25 per night. For more information call or visit travelodge.co.uk/hotels/629/Bath-City-Centre-Bath-Spa-hotel.