There’s something spectacularly simple about a stomp in the countryside knowing that you’ll loop back around and finish up where you started. The Cotswolds – with its outstanding patchwork quilt views, river valley footpaths, and iconic historical landmarks – is the perfect location for a circular walk. Aside from being a beautiful representation of rural England – the cosy pubs, the tea shops, cute villages and chocolate box cottages – the Cotswolds also happen to be well-connected by public transport, making it a green option for travellers.
In fact, basing yourself in the heart of the Cotswolds will allow you to fan out on all sides to visit some of England’s most iconic hotspots and places of interest. Within easy reach are the historic cities of Bath, Oxford and Birmingham, as well as Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon to the north, Blenheim Palace to the east and Stonehenge to the south.
We know that 95% of American tourists who arrive in the UK to visit the Cotswolds will want to visit London first, and for good reason. Even the more jetlag friendly “red-eye” flight across the Atlantic will leave you a little weary, and so a couple of days in London will help you readjust to the new timezone before you embark on your Cotswold escape.
So, the great news is that getting to and around the Cotswolds is both easy and environmentally friendly. With that in mind, let’s drill into the detail, and look at how you make your way there in style and comfort.
Flying into London Heathrow
If you land at Heathrow Airport early in the morning, you’re most likely to head straight to London for a couple of days. This will allow you to recover from the jetlag, and check out the capital.
To get to London, use the Heathrow Express to London Paddington and, from there, get a taxi, the London Underground or walk to your accommodation of choice.
By far the quickest way to get to the Cotswolds is by railway, and British trains are generally pretty comfortable.
Trains leave Paddington Station roughly every half hour, and you have several options available to you.
- London to Oxford (to Moreton-in-Marsh)
Trains from London Padding to Oxford take just one hour. You might decide to stop in Oxford and take a look around this beautiful University city and perhaps even try a bit of punting along the River Cherwell.
Alternatively, you can stay on the train and go onwards towards Moreton-in-Marsh in the heart of the Cotswolds.
- Paddington to Swindon to Kemble
In just over an hour you’ll be in Kemble, right in the heart of the Cotswolds and near the source of the River Thames.
- Paddington to Bath
It’s around 75 minutes direct to Bath, sitting on the southwestern corner of the Cotswolds. Public transport around the Cotswolds from Bath is relatively easy, either by train or bus.
For more information on train times, check out: National Rail, Great Western Railway or The Train Line.
To get to the Cotswolds, you can book a taxi or private car either directly from Heathrow Airport, or from London if you’ve chosen to stop here first.
It’s more tricky to gauge journey times via taxi, because the main arteries from London, the A40 and M40, tend to get very busy during the week and particularly at rush hour.
- To Oxford: around 1 hour
- To Bath: around 2 hours
- To the centre of the Cotswolds (Tetbury or Stow-on-the-Wold): around 90 minutes
If you’re flying into England from North America then the Cotswolds are a brilliant way of seeing a snapshot of the country easily and quickly. The Cotswolds with its history, heritage and stunningly beautiful countryside, are within easy reach of the capital, making it a go-to choice for any visitor from abroad.
Not only that, but the Cotswolds itself is a good place to base yourself while you pan out to visit other areas slightly beyond the Cotswolds boundaries: Bath and Bristol, Stone Henge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Blenheim and even across to Wales.
And there are no two ways about it, as soon as you set foot in the Cotswolds, it’ll have your heart.
For a more focused, guided experience of the region, we can offer you a range of Cotswolds walking tours.