Our Cotswold Way walking holiday passes through some of the most picturesque countryside and villages in England, of honey-coloured houses, grand country manors and pretty thatched cottages. Running for 102 miles, it is normally walked from the north to the south, from Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire to Bath in Somerset. You will be spoilt with far-reaching views: across the Vale of Evesham in the north, from the Severn Vale to the Malverns and as far as the Welsh Hills to the west. Bath, at the end of your journey, was a regular haunt of 18th century royalty. Today, it is famous for its Roman Baths and Georgian buildings, in particular the magnificent Royal Crescent.
The stroll through Chipping Campden to the start of your walk, gives you further opportunity to explore this beautiful market town, famous for the houses built with that famous Cotswold honey-coloured limestone. From the town, the route heads up to Dover's Hill, which offers tremendous views over the Vales of Evesham. The Path continues to Broadway Tower, a beautiful turreted folly on Fish Hill and the second highest point on the Cotswolds. From here it is a steep descent to Broadway.
Broadway is another classic Cotswold village with lovely honey-colour buildings, with a good range of shops, tea rooms hotels and restaurants. From here, the Path undulates along rolling hillside. As you climb out from Broadway, you will enjoy tremendous views back to Broadway Tower, before reaching the edge of Buckland Wood and then onto Shenberrow Hill. From Shenberrow Hill, the Path descends steeply to Stanton, another quaint Cotswold Village. Further on at Stanway is Stanway House, a Jacobean manor with the world's tallest gravity fountain. And at Hailes, stand the ruins of a once great cistercian monastery, Hailes Abbey.
The old market town of Winchcombe is a good stopping place for refreshment or sleep. There is also the opportunity to visit Sudeley Castle, the last home and resting place of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife. From Winchcombe, the Path climbs to Belas Knap, a site with neolithic burial chambers and tremendous views towards Cheltenham. The Path winds around field and through woodlands before reaching Cleeve Hill, an ancient common on the highest point on the Cotswolds. Again there are panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. From Cleeve Hill, the Path skirts around Cheltenham for a fair distance, offering tremendous view of the town and the famous race course. It is worth taking time off to explore this lovely Regency spa town, which is a couple of miles off the route. It also boasts a crescent, similar to that at Bath and there are a wide range of shops to suit all tastes and pockets. The trail passes through Leckhampton Hill, an Iron Age hill-fort and Devil's Chimney, a rocky pinnacle above a disused quarry. From here, the route winds its way through fields to the Crickley Hill Country Park, with stunning views, as far as the Malverns.
The route descends to the pub and runs alongside a busy road for a short distance before reaching Barrow Wake view point for views to the Malverns. Shortly after, the route passes through a succession of woods. Just off the route are the visible remains of a large Roman villa. The route emerges finally onto Painswick Beacon, the site of an Iron Age hill fort and splendid views of the surrounding countryside. From here, the route descends gently to Painswick. Just before you enter the village is the Rococo garden, beautifully restored to its former glory, based on a 1748 painting.
Painswick showcases a fine range of grand and interesting buildings. St Mary's Church and the beautifully sculptured yew trees in the churchyard are most certainly the centrepiece here though. There are reputed to be 99 trees in the grounds and the ornate gravestones further demonstrate the village's past wealth. The route leaves Painswick and dips in and out of a small valley and through long lengths of woodlands, as it twists and turns around Haresfield Hill. Being the site of an iron-age hill fort, the views of the surrounding countryside are again tremendous. Passing through more woodlands and skimming the western edge of the market town of Stroud, the route descends to Stroudwater Canal. There is the option here of a shorter route along the edge of the village of King's Stanley to Pen Hill or the longer, more scenic version along the canal and over Selsey Common. The other side of Pen Hill, hidden in a wooded valley is Woodchester Mansion & Park. It is worth a little detour here, if you have the time, to explore the beautifully restored mansion. From Pen Hill, the route snakes in and out of a long series of woodlands, passing Nympsfield Long Barrow, Neolithic burial chamber, and Uley Long Barrow, where the chamber is big enough for you to crawl inside! In between these two landmarks is Coaley Peak, where again, panoramic view can be enjoyed. At Cam Long Down, the route descends gently to Dursley.
Dursley would have been a pretty, typical Cotswold town, if planners had not allowed its rich architecture to be replaced by bland functional buildings. On the other hand, it does offer refreshment and rest, without having to leave the route. The route climbs up to Stinchcombe Hill with, again, splendid views of the surrounding countryside. It undulates south, through the village of North Nibley, up to the obelish-like Tyndale monument for rewarding views across the Severn valley. The route traverses across the top of a wooded plateau before dropping down to Wotton under Edge.
Wotton-under-Edge is an interesting and vibrant little town. Its busy high street has all your essential needs. There are views of the surrounding hills as you wander around the town. A cluster of almshouses surrounds a cobbled courtyard and a beautiful tiny 17th century chapel. There is St Mary's The Virgin, a 13th century parish church with an impressive clock tower. On the eastern edge of the town on the top of the escarpment, a little way off the route is Newark Park, a lovely Tudor hunting lodge. The route drops in and out of valleys, passing on and close to the route a number of pretty little villages including Horton with the lovely manor house of Horton Court.
This is a pretty section despite the fact that a busy road cuts through the village. It boasts of a manor house, where Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn once stayed and where William Tyndale was reputed to have started his translation of the Bible into English. Off to the west of Little Sodbury, 2 km away, is the much bigger Chipping Sodbury. This mediaeval market town is popular spot with tourists drawn to its fine mix of buildings from various periods of history. From Little Sodbury, the route continues across a couple of gently rolling hills to open rolling fields, passing Dyrham Park, a Baroque style house, used as the set location for the 1993 Merchant Ivory film "The Remains of the Day". Further south is Cold Ashton, a hamlet offering tremendous views of rolling countryside. After Cold Ashton, the route passes through the site of the Battle of Lansdown Hill, which took place in 1643 between Parliamentarians and Royalists. A couple of moments marked the events that took place there. The route undulates over open fields to Bath. Along the way, are good views across to the Severn estuary and beyond.
Surely, there cannot be a nicer place to finish a walk than Bath. Famous for its Roman Baths and Georgian buildings, including the Royal Crescent, this beautiful town was once a regular haunt of George III. The 18th century Pulteney Bridge is another unique attraction, with shops built across its full span over the River Avon, on both sides of the bridge. Today it is popular with tourists from the UK and worldwide, whether it is to admire the marvellous architecture, explore the history of this lovely town or dip their toes into the waters.
We would be happy to offer advice on public transport for getting to and from the route or to arrange for you and your luggage to be transferred to your first night's accommodation from the nearest coach, bus or, railway station and airport.
If you wish to maximise your holiday by walking on your first day or sightseeing without baggage, we can arrange for your luggage to be collected from an agreed location and be delivered to that night's accommodation. We can also make similar arrangement on your last day if required to enable you to maximise your walking time.
Both Chipping Campden and Bath are easily accessible by car being close to the M40 and M4 motorways respectively.
Car parking is at a premium in Chipping Campden, but we may be able to arrange car parking at your first nights accommodation for the duration of your walking holiday. This will be subject to availability and may incur a small extra charge.
It is possible to return from Bath to Chipping Campden through a combination of train and bus, with a taxi to take you the last part of the way. For more information please contact us.
Although there is a local bus service, it is not easy to travel along the route without the need to changes buses. The service is limited on Sundays and Bank Holidays. If you plan to use the local bus service, please contact us and we will be pleased to help you plan your journies
The nearest National Express long distance coach stops are listed below.
Evesham: Chipping Campden 10.1 miles/16.3km
Charlton Kings: on the route
Stroud: Painswick 3.9 miles/6.3km, Stonehouse 3.4 miles/5.5km
Bath: on route
National Express has a route network with over 1,000 UK destinations. The best value tickets will be secured with advance booking.
The nearest railway stations to the route are listed below.
Moreton-in-Marsh: Chipping Campden 8.2 miles/13.2km
Cheltenham: Prestbury 2.5 miles/4.0km; Charlton Kings 3.5 miles/5.6km
Gloucester: Painswick 6.2 miles/10.0km
Stonehouse: on route
Cam & Dursley: Dursley 2.9 miles/4.7km
Yate: Little Sodbury 5 miles/8.0km
Bath: on route
The National Rail Map provides a map of the rail network for you to plan your journey.
Our route description and example itineraries are written from North (Chipping Campden) to South (Bath), but it is possible to walk the route in either direction. If you don't see what you are looking for, please contact us for a tailored itinerary.
Basic navigational and map reading skills are recommended.
The path is waymarked with the acorn logo.
March to October.
We specialise in providing walking holidays in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Pembrokeshire and Somerset. We are enthusiastic about outdoor pursuits and have experienced climbing, canoeing, skiing, caving and potholing and windsurfing as well as walking throughout the UK, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
We use our experience to provide self-guided, pack-free walking holidays, tailored to the requirements and abilities of our clients.