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Cotswold Way

Cotswold Way

Overview

The Cotswold Way is a long-distance walk that runs for 163 km from the medieval market town of Chipping Campden to the historic city of Bath. Following the Cotswold Hills’ western edge, the Cotswold Way route winds through gently rolling pastures, quiet beech woodland, and fairytale, honey-coloured medieval villages steeped in history. We arrange comfortable accommodation in en-suite rooms at charming hotels and accredited guesthouses on this itinerary, and we transfer your luggage between each of the accommodations.

If you have less time, we recommend our Cotswolds Short Walking Break. Full list of our Cotswolds itineraries is available here.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden is one of the loveliest Cotswold towns. A two-hour train journey from London to Moreton-in-the-Marsh and a 10-km taxi or bus ride bring you quickly to the start of your holiday. Take time to explore this charming historic market town with its shops, silversmiths and ‘wool church’.

Day 2: Chipping Campden to Broadway | 10 km / 6 mi

The Cotswold Way starts at the Town Hall in the centre of Chipping Campden. From Chipping Campden the Trail takes you out on to the Cotswolds escarpment with stunning views from Dover’s Hill (230m), where the annual ‘Olimpick’ games are held. The walk continues across the fields to Broadway Tower, one of the highest points in the Cotswolds and from where on a clear day there are superb views, and then down into the village of Broadway with its historical connections with the Arts & Crafts movement.  

  • Walking for the day: 6 miles / 10 km, 3-4 hours
  • Accommodation: Hadley House or similar

Day 3: Broadway to Winchcombe | 19 km / 11.5 mi

From Broadway, the Cotswold Way climbs up onto the escarpment, following broad tracks to the Iron Age hill fort of Shenberrow Camp. The Trail then descends into the unspoilt village of Stanton. From here onto Wood Stanway where the route continues with a steep climb up from Wood Stanway onto the escarpment where you will be rewarded by magnificent views across the Vale of Evesham towards the Malverns. Passing the Iron Age hill fort of Beckbury Camp, you then descent to Hailes with its ruined abbey and little church. The Trail then continues through farmland into the town of Winchcombe, known as an ancient Saxon capital. Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe is the resting place of Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

  • Walking for the day: 11.5 miles / 19 km, 6 hours
  • Accommodation: White Heart Inn or similar

Day 4: Winchcombe to Leckhampton/Cheltenham | 25 km / 16 mi

The National Trail leaves Winchcombe through the Sudeley Estate, climbing steadily along field paths up to the ancient Neolithic long barrow of Belas Knap. Heading south from Cleeve Hill, you are now on the highest part of the entire Trail. The route continues across Cleeve Hill with extensive views to the West. Descend to Dowdeswell passing through Lineover Wood – a semi-natural broadleaved woodland, notable for its large-leaved lime trees and magnificent ‘heritage’ beech. The path then climbs and follows Leckhampton Hill’s escarpment – look out for the distinctive rock pillar known as the Devil’s Chimney. Overnight in Cheltenham.

  • Walking for the day: 16 miles / 25 km, 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: Beaumont House or similar

Day 5: Leckhampton Hill to Painswick | 23 km / 14 mi

Leaving Leckhampton Hill, the National Trail follows quiet tracks, lanes and paths into Crickley Hill Country Park. The Trail then crosses the undulating grassland of Barrow Wake before heading into woodland to emerge at Birdlip. From Birdlip, the Trail passes through magnificent semi-natural beech woodlands and on to Coopers Hill, the site of the annual cheese-rolling event. The route then emerges onto the common land and golf course of Painswick Beacon, where an Iron Age hill fort’s ramparts can be clearly seen. The route finishes for the day in Painswick.

  • Walking for the day: 14 miles / 23 km, 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: St Anne’s B&B or similar

Day 6: Painswick to Dursley | 24 km / 15 mi

The Cotswold Way descends from Painswick to cross the Wash Brook before climbing again onto Edge Common – an open area of grassland with views back over Painswick. The route takes you through woodland to emerge into the Stroud Valleys through grass pastures. At the Stroudwater Navigation, there is a choice of routes. One option is to take the route alongside the canal and up over Selsley Common, and the other is to head through Kings Stanley. After the two paths reconvene, the Cotswold Way then takes you through woods before heading down into the valley at Farfield passing through farmland into the market town of Dursley. 

  • Walking for the day: 15 miles / 24 km, 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: Woodland House B&B or similar

Day 7: Dursley to Hawkesbury Upton | 24 km / 15 mi

Leaving Dursley, the Cotswold Way climbs steeply up onto Stinchcombe Hill. The Trail then descends through woodland into farmland and follows a track into the village of North Nibley. There is another steep ascent to the Tyndale Monument before the route levels out across grassland and through woodland leading onto Wotton Hill. Descend and pass through the town of Wotton-Under-Edge. From Wotton-under-Edge you climb back up onto the escarpment, passing close to the National Trust property of Newark Park. The Trail then makes for the village of Alderley down a delightful sunken woodland track. From Alderley, the route passes through a peaceful valley where you can see Medieval ridge-and-furrow remainders either side. The Trail then climbs gently up to the Somerset Monument before heading towards the village of Hawkesbury Upton. 

  • Walking for the day: 15 miles / 24 km, 6-7 hours (with optional shortcut: 12 miles / 19 km, 4-5 hours)
  • Accommodation: The Fox Inn or similar

Day 8: Hawkesbury Upton to Cold Ashton | 23 km / 14 mi

Passing an ancient drover’s pond, the path heads south towards Horton. Before reaching the National Trust property of Horton Court (probably the oldest vicarage in England), the trail climbs up onto Horton Fort with extensive views opening out over the Severn Vale and beyond. Cross farmland to the villages of Horton and Old Sodbury. From here the Cotswold Way passes through the wonderful Capability Brown parkland of Dodington Park before crossing the final few fields into the village of Tormarton. Heading across further fields and skirting the perimeter wall of Dyrham Park, the trail climbs up from Dyrham village through Dyrham Woods before continuing through farmland into Cold Ashton’s village.

  • Walking for the day: 14 miles / 23 km, 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hill Farm B&B or similar

Day 9: Cold Ashton to Bath | 16 km / 10 mi

The Cotswold Way leaves Cold Ashton and descends into the beautiful secluded valley at Lower Hamswell. The next climb takes you up to the site of the bloody civil war battle of Lansdown. The trail levels out across the plateau past the promontory hill fort at Little Down and the famous Bath Racecourse. After the Trail passes through farmland and emerges into Weston, it changes in character, becoming more urban as the walk draws to a close. The Trail continues to offer glimpses of fine parks and regency architecture on its way to Bath Abbey, where a carved stone disc set into the pavement outside the ornate west doors marks the end of the Cotswold Way.

  • Walking for the day: 10 miles / 16 km, 4-5 hours
  • Accommodation: The Rising Sun Inn or similar

Day 10: Departure

Departure or extra nights upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of charming small hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere, cuisine and/or unique services. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

Most days offer 6 hours of walking on average, and you need to be fit to complete the Way. You will cover a variety of terrain, but these are gentle wolds and not mountainous areas. The path rises and falls over the Escarpment, and is lower, but still undulating, over farmland and through woods (which can get a bit muddy in wet weather). Some days will involve a couple of steeper ascents and descents, but they are relatively short. The highest point on the trail is 330m. Ascents and descents are usually 250-300 m per day (read more about difficulty grades). The trail follows well-maintained footpaths, bridleways, open fields and some minor roads. The Cotswold Way is a National Trail and is fully waymarked. A comprehensive guidebook and map are supplied. You can also call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the mid-April until mid-October. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season. If you are a seasoned and well-equipped hiker, we can eventually book you on off-season dates.

Getting there

Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens).

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Birmingham (BHX). Alternatives are London Heathrow (LHR) or Gatwick (LGW).

By train or bus
  • Moreton-in-Marsh station (MIM) is located on the Cotswold Line between London, Oxford and Hereford. There is a railway station at Birmingham Airport with frequent services to Moreton-in-Marsh (nearest railway station to Chipping Campden) via Oxford.
  • From London Paddington station, direct trains run to Moreton-in-Marsh. If you wish to take a taxi from Moreton-in-Marsh, this will need to be booked ahead of time as there is no taxi rank at the station or in the town. The cost is about £25. Please check the following website or use the Omio planner above. Alternatively, you can walk from the station to the Corn Exchange (a 5-minute walk), and from here you can take a bus to Chipping Camden. The Line 22 bus takes approximately 25 minutes, and the buses leave hourly (£3). Please note buses do not run on Sundays.

Inclusions

Included

  • 9 nights in a twin or double rooms with an en-suite or private bathroom (3-star hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses)
  • 9 breakfasts
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information: personalised trip notes and maps (emailed before departure and a hard copy provided at the first hotel; one set per booking)
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel – up to 15 kg per person
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative in Cheltenham

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request

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