The Cotswolds are quite simply a hiker’s paradise. Miles upon miles of public pathways and bridleways to explore. Declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the Cotswolds are brimming with picturesque view points and secluded spots just waiting to be discovered.
Spanning over six counties, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and parts of Wiltshire, Bath, Bristol and Somerset, you could spend a lifetime pacing the pathways of the rolling hills and still only scratch the surface! Stately homes, immaculate National Trust Gardens, dovecotes, thatched cottages and quaint country pubs are just some of the countless reasons to don your hiking boots, grab your map and head out into the great outdoors. Breathe in the fresh air and get exploring out on the wolds!
1) The Cotswold Way
First thing first, pick your starting point; Chipping Camden or Bath? Why not start in the middle and walk out? So many options and so many kilometers to walk…over 150 kilometers (93 miles) in fact! The trail heads northeast from Bath towards Chipping Camden via touristic hot spots like Broadway Tower and Sudeley Castle. Through farmland, villages and hamlets the Cotswold Way is the ultimate Cotswold Hike and epitomizes rural English beauty.
Don’t feel you have to hike the whole trail, far from it! There are a number of shorter circular walks that incorporate parts of the Cotswold Way. Regardless of the time of year, the Cotswold Way has a unique way of shining through the elements. However, the trail is best enjoyed during the summer months when the pathways are drier and less muddy.
The Cotswold Way
Address: Chipping Camden, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Website: The Cotswold Way
2) Sherborne Woods Estate - circular walk
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
The Sherborne Woods Estate can be found 5.5 kilometers (3.5 miles) east of Roman Market Town, Northleach and is one of the best kept secrets of the Cotswolds. Under the care of The National Trust, the immaculately kept pathways are popular with families, dog walkers and keen hikers a like. Although not particularly strenuous the three circular walks that start from the estate capture the essence of Cotswold countryside. The Family Fun Walk spans 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of the estate and takes approximately one and a half hours to complete. The route is dog-friendly and in the spring time features glorious spring bulbs for all to enjoy!
Sherborne Woods Estate
Address: Lodge Park, Sherborne, Cheltenham GL54 3PP, UK
Website: Sherborne Woods Estate
3) Winchcombe Way
This 68 kilometer (42 mile) figure of eight trail around the classic Cotswold town of Winchcombe is a charming introduction to the Cotswolds. Passing through Guiting Wood and the peaceful villages of Snowshill and Taddington, the Winchcome Way’s eastern loop takes walkers on a steady climb out of the market town towards Stanway House along the Cotswold escarpment. The western loop leads walkers down the Langley Hill which boasts a different view every day of the year as the light strikes the leaves as the seasons change before your eyes. As you leave Langley Hill behind, you’re welcomed by the wooded wolds of Alstone. A final ascent brings you to Nottingham Hill and onto Cleeve Common before you descend back into Winchcombe itself via stunning Sudeley Castle.
Address: Abbey Terrace, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire
Website: Winchcombe Way
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4) Leckhampton Hill
The Leckhampton Hill is one of the circular walks attached to the Cotswold Way. The Leckhampton Loop features some of the most breathtaking and varied landscapes along the route. The walk culminates in a stunning view over the valleys of Cheltenham and Gloucester. Take a picnic to the top of the hill and watch the sunset from one of the Cotswolds highest points.
The 7 kilometer (4 mile) loop guides you past Iron-Age remain and disused quarries established in the Victorian era, not to mention gorgeous grasslands and tranquil woodlands. Although the Leckhamption Loop features some steep sections it is by no means a strenuous hike. On average it takes two and a half hours to complete but if you’re as enamored by the views as we expect you will be, it may take a little longer!
Address: Cotswold Way, Shurdington, Cheltenham GL53
Website: Leckhampton Hill
5) Broadway Tower - circular walk
The Broadway Tower Walk is a popular circular walk from the Cotswold Way and for good reason. Follow the enchanting path from the quiet and quaint village of Broadway up the steady hill to the stunning, striking Broadway Tower. To soak up even more of the view, traipse up the steps of the tower and embrace the landscape you are met with. The simply breathtaking view of the Severn Vale below will stay with your forever. This circular trail is 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) all in all and if given a steady pace can be completed in under three hours. With a wide range of family-run coffee shops and cafes in Broadway village this simple circular walk makes a great day out for all the family.
Address: Middle Hill, Broadway WR12 7LB
Website: National Trail
6) Donnington Way
For those who enjoy a good hike but also welcome a chance to put your feet up and taste a local ale then look no further than the Donnington Way. The 99 kilometer (61.5 mile) route leads you, conveniently, past all eleven of the Donnington Brewery pubs. Almost all have bed and breakfast accommodations available, so if you enjoy a few too many Best Bitters and chose not to strap your boots back on in the afternoon, no worries!
The Donnington Way guides ramblers through the lesser visited villages of Longborough, Keinton and Little Compton, as well as the touristic hubs of Stow-on-the-Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh and Naunton. What better way is there to enjoy unspoiled English countryside than with a pint in hand? The ideal starting point for the Donnington Way is The Queen’s Head Inn, Stow-on-the-Wold.
Address: The Queen’s Head Inn, Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire
Website: Donnington Way
7) Local’s secret - Maugersbury Lane
Maugersbury is an easy afternoon’s 2 kilometer (1 mile) stroll and is local resident’s best kept secret. The sleepy parish of Maugersbury is home to less than 150 people and is nestled southeast of historic market town Stow-on-the-Wold. After a leisurely afternoon browsing the independent shops of Talbot Court or even as a brief detour from the Cotswold Way, Maugersbury Lane is a treat to behold. According to Google Maps, this route takes only 20 minutes.
Address: Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Website: Get the route
So strap on your hiking boots!
Whether you’re looking for a challenging long-haul hike or a leisurely stroll through England’s best kept countryside the Cotswold really do have a path for every occasion. Remember to follow the Countryside Code and respect the environment and fellow ramblers to make the most of you Cotswold adventure!
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