June 26, 2023

Destination: Cotswolds

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Top 10 Cotswolds Pub Walks

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There’s nothing quite like settling down with a refreshing drink after a brisk walk through the countryside. And there’s no better place to do this than the Cotswolds, with its rolling hills, stunning panoramic views, and rambling lanes, all peppered with bustling hotspots of historical interest and, of course, the quintessentially cosy English pub.

Whether you’re embarking on a self-guided or a private walking tour in England, the Cotswolds really is the perfect place to start.

As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds offers some of the most spectacularly beautiful walks in England, with views across several counties even into Wales, riverside ambles, and National Trust places of historical interest. The area is bursting with character, charm and activity – no matter what the weather is up to.

All of these walks exemplifies the Cotswolds in spades, and each has been chosen to include our favourite Cotswold pubs, with oodles of charm, a unique backstory and of course, the refreshment you deserve after a wholesome jaunt in the countryside.

So, if you’re looking for a route that highlights the uniqueness of the Cotswolds, whilst also combining a cosy watering hole to quench your thirst, listen up. Here are ten of our favourite pub walks in the Cotswolds.

1. Charlbury to Daylesford via the Chequers

  • Difficulty: Average
  • Distance: 9.6 miles
  • Time: Around 3 hours
  • Pub: The Chequers

Situated on the easterly most edge of the Cotswolds, Charlbury is well-connected with a train line taking you directly to London in around 1.5 hours.

Starting at Charlbury, make tracks towards the famous Daylesford Farm in a ten-mile walk through the villages of Chadlington and Churchill. Don’t forget to stop off for a pint in the Chequers in Churchill where you may well catch a glimpse of Jeremy Clarkson and the infamous Kaleb, the stars of the popular TV show, Clarkson’s Farm. In fact, you could take a detour to Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop, if you’re a die-hard fan of the show!

Walking on through Kingham, you’ll finally reach Daylesford, where you’ll be able to peruse the famous award-winning organic farm shop, the go-to place for the Cotswolds glitterati. Choose from one of their indulgent organic hampers, or a freshly-baked loaf from the bakery, or just sit back and relax with a botanical cocktail in The Legbar.

2. Blenheim Palace & The Bear Inn in Woodstock

  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Time: Around 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pub: The Bear Hotel

Woodstock is a pretty Oxfordshire market town with plenty to offer by way of antique shops, artisan cafes, and pubs. But its greatest and most famous offering is the historical Blenheim Palace – a must-see during any trip to the area. Blenheim is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and its picturesque grounds and gardens.

You have the option to park in Woodstock itself (Hensington Road has free on-street parking) or pay for entrance fee to leave your car at the palace itself.

Your walk begins through Old Woodstock, where you head over the River Glyme and through the fields following an old Roman road, now Akeman Street. You’ll now reach the entrance to Blenheim Park.

As you saunter around the stunning grounds, designed by “Capability” Brown, you’ll see thousand-year-old oak trees, panoramic views across the lake and its impressive Grand Bridge, and of course, the Column of Victory, built in 1727-30 to commemorate the military victories of the first Duke of Malborough.

When you’ve finished the circular walk around the grounds, you may want to look around the palace itself and its adjoining Pleasure Gardens – where you can enjoy the butterfly house and try not to get lost in the maze!

After all that excitement, you’ll be ready for some refreshment. We’d recommend heading back into Woodstock, where you’ll find The Bear Inn, one of England’s original 13th Century coaching inns. Its stone walls, oak beams, cosy fireplace and ivy facade make for a memorable experience to end your day.

3. Ebrington Circular with the Ebrington Arms

This North Cotswolds circular walk starts in Chipping Campden, the home of the Cotswolds Olympicks since 1612 and part of the northerly-most end of the Cotswolds Way. If you’re wondering what the Cotswolds Olympicks are (and we don’t blame you!), this has nothing to do with the Usain Bolts of this world. Think instead: sledgehammer throwing, shin-kicking, wrestling and dancing competitions!

From Chipping Campden walk north-east towards Hidcote where you’ll come to the National Trust’s Hidcote Manor Gardens, a highly influential Arts and Crafts garden, known for its “garden rooms” of rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders.

Hidcote Gardens
The borders at Hidcote Gardens are a delight throughout the year. Image: Ben Arthur

From Hidcote, follow an easterly route and then towards Ebrington, a small chocolate box village boasting an outstanding pub, the Ebrington Arms, which has been voted the UK’s best village pub by the Sunday Times. There, you can quench your thirst with a pint of “Yubby”, a strong malty-caramel local beer.

From Ebrington, you can loop back west towards Chipping Campden to complete your circular walk.

4. The Broadway Loop via The Snowshill Arms

The Broadway Loop starts at Broadway Tower, an 18th Century faux mediaeval folly built for the Sixth Earl of Coventry. The tower now houses exhibitions and also has a tea room, and beautiful wooded parkland overlooking the Cotswolds and Severn Valley.

Broadway Tower
Broadway Tower dates back to the late 18th century. Image: Ben Arthur

Walking due south of Broadway, you can walk to Snowshill in around an hour. The uphill climb is the price you pay for the spectacular views across the valleys and into Wales, and will also take you past the sweeping purple lavender fields – quite a sight during mid-summer months. The walk can also get a bit muddy in places, so make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear for the trek.

Snowshill is a beautiful little village with a historic village church and, to reward you for your effort so far, a delightful country pub called the Snowshill Arms. Eagle-eyed movie buffs may recognise the village as the setting for some Bridget Jones’ Diary scenes.

Onwards north from Snowshill will take you past the 16th Century National Trust Snowshill Manorhouse and Gardens,where you can pursue the treasure trove of artefacts collected by eccentric Charles Wade.

Past Snowshill Manor, you will follow the road north along the Cotswolds area of national beauty (AONB), towards Broadway, a bustling village boasting two museums and two galleries, and plenty of pubs and restaurants.

Complete your circular walk by heading in a south-easterly direction towards Broadway Tower.

5. Bourton-on-the-Water – The Slaughters & the Black Horse at Naunton

Bourton-on-the-Water, set on the River Windrush, is a picturesque Costwold village known as “The Venice of the Cotswolds” on account of its five stone bridges built between 1654 and 1911.

The walking route takes you out of Bourton-on-the-Water along the rolling valleys towards Lower Slaughter and, beyond that, Upper Slaughter. The latter is one of England’s thirteen “doubly thankful” villages, which means that all men (and one woman) who went to both World Wars returned safely.

The route then takes you along the beautiful Warden’s Way towards the tranquil village of Naunton. There, you’ll find the Black Horse, a characterful pub serving an excellent range of beers and home-cooked food.

To finish the walk, walk due southeast along the River Windrush back towards Bourton-on-the-water.

6. Sapperton Circular & The Bell

This circular walk is a great chance to trail through extensive woodlands, hidden valleys, polo fields, and rambling Cotswold piles.

Starting at the village of Sapperton, a westerly route will take you through Daneway and along the Sapperton Canal Tunnel (now disused) which, at two miles long, held the record for the longest English tunnel at the beginning of the 19th Century.

This gentle walk along the canal and river takes you towards Frampton Mansell before taking you southeast towards Tarlton and through Hailey Wood – not far from the source of the River Thames and the start of Thames Path

Finally, you’ll head back to the village of Sapperton for a pint at The Bell. Voted in the top 31 Best Winter Pubs by the Sunday Times in 2021, with its flagstone floors, log fire and low beams, it lives up to its reputation as being “idyllic”.

7. Painswick to the Woolpack in Slad

This scenic walking route starts in Painswick, otherwise known as “The Queen of the Cotswolds”, a central point of the Cotswolds Way. It’s a pretty village, nestled in the Cotswolds countryside, and surrounded by the famous Rococo Gardens, Painswick Beacon and some delightful country walks.

This ramble is gentle, leading you out of Painswick towards Nature Reserve, Bull Cross Common, and onwards to Slad.

Famous for Laurie Lee, early 20th Century author, who based his classic, Cider with Rosie, on his experience of the area, Slad Valley offers stunning scenery. There’s also a historic, 300-year-old inn, The Woolpack, which provides a welcome watering hole at the end of your walk. There, they offer real ales and homecooked food against the breathtaking backdrop of the Slad Valley. If the Woolpack Inn gives you the energy to carry on, you could loop back around to complete your walk back to Painswick, where you could enjoy a well-earned evening meal at The Falcon.

8. Coln Valley Loop via The Catherine Wheel

Starting in the village of Bibury, famous for its Saxon church and cute stone cottages, you’ll amble along a riverside footpath towards Coln St Aldwyns.

Following the River Coln (for a longer walk check out the River Coln Trail), you’ll eventually end up back in Bibury, via the famous Arlington Row cottages. Built in the 14th Century, these are some of the most photographed Cotswold scenes and are featured at the back of the UK passport. In fact, they were famously so adored by Henry Ford that he wanted to lift them and transport them back to the United States intact.

Refreshment must be sought out at The Catherine Wheel, a traditional pub offering a menu of locally-sourced ingredients, along with a classy wine list and traditional Cotswold ales

9. Bathampton to Bath & Lunch at The George Inn

This walk takes you from the top of the Cotswolds escarpment of Bathampton down into the historic city of Bath via the Kennet and Avon Canal. Soon into your journey, you’ll come to The George Inn, in Bathampton. This ivy-clad Grade II listed building exudes Cotswolds charm, dating back to (possible) the 12th Century, with a beer garden letting you watch the boats sweeping along the Kennet and Avon Canal.

From The George, walk along the canal until the countryside gives way to the old urban architecture of the city of Bath.

Into Bath, you have a wealth of options, both historical places of interest to visit, and sites to make your lunch or dinner setting. The Roman Baths are a must, and the Gainsborough Spa Hotel is a lovely, Georgian spot in which to enjoy dinner.

10. Hollow Bottom & The Halfway House

The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power makes the start of this walk. A traditional Cotswolds racing pub, it offers the quintessentially rural pub, with plenty of horseracing memorabilia to peruse while you quench your thirst.

Onwards towards Kineton along the River Windrush and you can stop for a bite at The Halfway House, famous for its “best burgers in the Cotswolds”. From here, the walk takes you across the Windrush over towards the Cotswolds Farm Park, home of television personality Adam Henson. There you can enjoy the farm life, enjoy one of the wildlife walks or the conservation area.

 

That marks the end of our guide to the top 10 pub walks in the Cotswolds. For visitors clambering for more information about the region, our complete Cotswolds travel guide is a mere click away.

Experienced by

Jago

Operations Director

Signature Tours

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