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August 16, 2023

Destination: Cotswolds


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A Guide to Walking the Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way is one of the most popular walking routes in the UK, offering miles and miles of scenic views and picturesque villages.

Running from Chipping Campden in the North to Bath in the South, the 102-mile (164 km) walking route stretches the entire length of the Cotswolds, uncovering some of the country’s best-preserved historic sites.

While it’s one of the UK’s shorter National Trails, the Cotswold Way still offers some challenging climbs and rolling hills – it’s an ideal walking holiday in England for international visitors.

Anyone with a good level of fitness should feel confident taking it on, whether you’re after a brisk hike or a leisurely amble. Plus, there are plenty of places to stop along the way.

How long does it take to walk to Cotswold Way?

Most people take 8-112 days to walk the 102-mile Cotswold Way, breaking it up into 10-15 miles per day. The longer you take, the more time you’ll have to spend at the historic sites, visiting the quaint towns, and feasting on culinary specialities.

Cotswold Way stone marker in Chipping Camden

Where does the Cotswold Way start and finish?

You can start the route at either Chipping Campden or Bath, but most people begin in Chipping Campden – you’ll know the start and the finish by the marker stone outside Market Hall and Bath Abbey.

Map of the Cotswold Way

What’s the best way of getting there?

The easiest way to travel to and from your Cotswold Way hike is to take public transport. If you’re coming from London, the Great Western main line runs from Paddington station straight to Moreton-in-Marsh, which is a 30-minute bus ride away from the start point at Market Hall.

Similarly, there are many railway links from Bath, as well as trains that go directly back to London Paddington, in just 1 hour 30 minutes.

What’s the best time to walk the Cotswold Way?

Whether or not it’s entirely fair, the UK weather is famous for being unpredictable. The best time to walk the Cotswold Way is usually between May and October, from the end of spring right the way through the summer into autumn.

If you time it right, you may even see the Cotswolds in full bloom, with wild garlic and bluebells lining the forest paths.

How well is the Cotswold Way signposted?

The Cotswold Way only officially opened in 2007, so the signposts are still in good condition, with markers the whole way. Just keep an eye out for the National Trail acorn symbol on the wooden signposts as you go.

That said, we would encourage you to take a map (just in case). And if you have a GPS watch, download the route on it, too.

gate and sty on the cotswold way

What are the trails like on the Cotswold Way?

The Cotswold Way has a mixture of different trails, from farmland to forests, rolling hills, and country lanes.

Is it hard going? There are a few steep climbs but also a lot of flat sections, too. You can always take poles with you, for a little extra support.

How do you walk the Cotswold Way?

We suggest walking the Cotswold Way in stages over eight days. Covering 10-15 miles a day, this will give you enough time to see the sights along the way, yet still have an afternoon to recover in a quaint village or town.

You can, of course, make it shorter or longer, spending additional nights in some of the towns, to break it up.

  • Day 1: Chipping Campden to Stanton
  • Day 2: Stanton to Winchcombe
  • Day 3: Winchcombe to Birdlip
  • Day 4: Birdlip to King’s Stanley via Painswick
  • Day 5: King’s Stanley to Wotton-Under-Edge
  • Day 6: Wotton-Under-Edge to Tormarton
  • Day 7: Tormarton to Bath
  • Day 8: Stay in Bath for some sightseeing – or head onto the next adventure!
woods and fields on the cotswold way near painswick

What are the Cotswold Way’s most iconic landmarks?

The Cotswold Way is soaked in history, dotted with churches, castles, and Roman ruins.

Sights to look out for:

  • Dover’s Hill. The annual site of the Cotswolds Olimpick Games. Popular sports such as shin-kicking and tug o’ war have taken place here for over 400 years.
  • The 13th-century abbey at Hailes, near Winchcombe, where you’ll find a beautiful Norman church adorned with fascinating hand-painted pre-1300 murals.
  • The Grade I-listed Sudeley Castle, and the 5,500-year-old Neolithic burial site of Belas Knap on the way, near Winchcombe.
  • The historic remains of a Roman villa at Great Whitcombe.
  • The Iron Age fort at the top of Painswick Beacon – also a brilliant view if it’s a clear day.
  • The Iron Age hillfort and Hetty Pagler’s Tump. A partially reconstructed Neolithic chambered mound overlooking the Severn Valley, en route to Dursley.
  • The Tyndale Monument. Standing 111 feet tall on the top of Nibley Knoll Hill – you can’t miss it!
  • Dyrham House. A 17th-century William Blathwayt mansion nestled within an ancient deer park.
  • The Roman Baths and the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.

Where to stay along the Way?

  • Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Camden:, Upper High Street The Square, Chipping Campden GL55 6AN, 01386 840330.
  • The Mount Inn, Stanton:, Stanton, Nr Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7NE, 01386 584316.
  • The Lion Inn, Winchcombe:, 37 North St, Winchcombe, Cheltenham GL54 5PS, 01242 603300.
  • The Rising Sun Hotel, Cleeve Hill:, Cleeve Hill, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3PX, 01242 67628.
  • The Royal George Hotel, Birdlip:, Off B4070, Birdlip, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL4 8JH, 01452 862506.
  • The Hart Guest House, King’s Stanley:, The Street, Leonard Stanley, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, GL10 3NR, 07832 421745.
  • Swan Hotel, Wotton-Under-Edge:, 16 Market Street, Wotton-Under-Edge, Glos, GL12 7AE, 01453 843004.
  • The Compass Inn, Tormarton:, Tormarton, near Badminton, South Gloucestershire, GL9 1JB, 01454 218242.
  • The Francis Hotel, Bath:, Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HH, 01225 424105.
Georgian facade - the Francis Hotel in Bath

What to pack if you’re walking the Cotswold Way?

  • First aid kit
  • Good walking or trail shoes
  • Comfortable walking clothes
  • High-quality walking socks
  • Gloves – some spring mornings can be a little chilly
  • Scarf or buff
  • Waterproof jacket – even if it isn’t raining it can get quite windy
  • Waterproof trousers – weather dependent
  • Hydration pack
  • Snacks – energy bars, flapjacks, fruit and nuts
  • Head torch or torch
  • Penknife – just in case
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Battery pack for your phone
  • Smartwatch – always helpful, and great if you want to track the route
  • Walking poles – optional
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun cream

Where to find more information on the Cotswold Way

The National Trail website has plenty of information about the Cotswold Way, whilst the Cotswold Way Association is a charitable body which aims to look after and maintain the trails along the route.

Like the sound of walking the Cotswold Way, but need a little more assistance? We offer 8-day, 10-day and 12-day self-guided walking tours of the Cotswold Way. Or check out our complete travel guide to visiting the Cotswolds.

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