Walking in the Cotswolds

A family walking in the Cotswolds. Picture by Nick Turner, courtesy Cotswolds Conservation Board.The Cotswold Way - the beginning and the end - at Chipping Campden and Bath. Picture courtesy Cotswolds Conservation Board.The Cotswolds is perfect walking country with its wonderful series of rolling hills set amidst lush green countryside.

It is the epitome of rural England with lovely villages built of local golden stone and, beside the hills, there is wonderful open countryside, wooded valleys, brooks, rivers, parks and also town and village trails to follow.

Walkers are almost spoilt for choice when choosing their route in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With its thousands of miles of footpaths and bridleways, it is without doubt a walker’s paradise.

Undoubtedly the Cotswolds' most famous walk is The Cotswold Way, a 102-mile (164 km) long distance walking trail runs between the beautiful market town of Chipping Campden in the north and the World Heritage City of Bath in the south.

The trail runs for most of its length on the Cotswold escarpment, passing through many picturesque villages and close to a significant number of historic sites, such as Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey and many beautiful churches and historic houses.

The Cotswold Way has existed as a promoted long-distance walk for over 30 years. Following many years of lobbying by the Ramblers Association and others, its special qualities have been recognised and it was formally launched as a National Trail in May 2007.

The Cotswold Way features in Great Walks of the World, a book written by Canadian author D. Larraine Andrews and published in the summer of 2014. This eclectic collection of 12 global walks and hikes includes destinations on every continent apart from Antarctica, with an in-depth chapter on the Cotswold Way National Trail.

Andrews makes no apologies for her obvious bias when it comes to the delights of walking in the English countryside... and the Cotswold Way rates close to the top of the list.
A family walking on Selsey Common on the Cotswold Way. Picture courtesy Costwolds Conservation Board.
James Blockley, trail manager of the Cotswold Way, said: "England’s newest National Trail provides a remarkably diverse taste of the wider Cotswolds landscape.
"In just one afternoon you can wander from open wildflower meadows with breathtaking views, into cool shady woodlands carpeted with bluebells, and through sleepy villages and into bustling market towns. The Cotswold Way really is the string on which the pearls of the Cotswolds are strung.

"The Cotswolds has a rich and diverse range of experiences to suit all kinds of walkers. Not only are the footpaths some of the best in the country, thanks to the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, but there is also a dense network of well-signed long distance paths, all interweaving to create a spider’s web of walking opportunities."

While the Cotswolds attracts walkers from all over the world, providing them with some wonderful places to enjoy their passion, James says that walkers also help the Cotswolds enormously.

"Not only do they contribute enormously to the local economy, supporting a wide range of businesses, but they also have a role in keeping the Cotswolds recognised as one of the key walking destinations in the world – the walking opportunities are there because there are those who want them!" 
Walking the Cotswold Way through the woods. Picture courtesy Cotswolds Conservation Board.

More information

For more information on the Cotswold Way, visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold-way

While it is fun to venture out on your own with a map and compass or with the help of circular route guides, you may prefer to join the company of a walking group or guided walks leader.

Hundreds of guided walks take place across the Cotswolds each year, the majority of which are led by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. Visit www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/walking/guided-walks/

For free downloadable walks for the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, visit www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/things-to-do/activities/walking/free-downloadable-walks

A number of companies also specialise in Cotswold walking holidays, such as Cotswold Walks www.cotswoldwalks.com

Many other organisations also run walking programmes and events, including the Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and local authorities.  

Various towns in the Cotswolds now hold annual walking festivals. Among them is the Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers' festival in May; Stroud Walking Festival in September; and, slightly further south, the Dursley Walking Festival in October. 
Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers' website has 15 downloadable walks at www.winchcombewelcomeswalkers.com/walks/self-guided_walks.asp

Cotswold Photo Walks, a social enterprise company, offers creative photography tuition around the Cotswolds by way of photo walks led by a photography tutor.  Visit www.CotswoldPhotoWalks.co.uk.

Cotswold Natural Mindfulness organises regular walks in the Cotswolds that use the healing power of nature. For more information visit www.cotswoldnaturalmindfulness.uk


© Loving The Cotswolds. 2021.