Cotswold Way

Cotswold Way

Trip Highlights

  • Starting in the beautiful Cotswold village of Chipping Campden
  • Views from Dover's & Cleeve Hill
  • Opportunity to stop in at the ruins of Hailes Abbey
  • Vist the ruins of Great Witcombe Roman Villa
  • Celebrating the end of your walk in the historic town of Bath

Trip Summary

When you conjure up thoughts of the English countryside, your mind fills with images of rolling hills, quaint villages, old traditional pubs, and stepping through time with history. Walking the Cotswold Way does that and more. There are very few places in the UK where in a relatively small area you can encounter Neolithic (Stone Age), Iron Age, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Tudor, English Civil War and the Industrial revolution history, sometimes all in one day of walking! The Cotswold Way walks past a treasure trove of ancient Neolithic burial mounds, Iron Age hillforts, Roman villas, Norman churches, and of course houses and buildings built from the wealth from the wool trade. Covering 102 miles / 164 km, from Chipping Campden to Bath, it offers a superb way to take in the views, history and chocolate box villages in an achievable manner. The trail mostly follows an escarpment which is called the Cotswold Edge, or Scarp. When walking along the top of the Edge you will be treated to the most wonderful views reaching out as far as the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

Suitability

We grade this walk as ‘Moderate’ in relation to our other U.K tours, the route is hilly, but not mountainous, the weather is rarely too bad for walking, and there are generally quite a number of villages enroute. Days of up to 22.5 km are not too long for most reasonably fit people.

Itinerary

Make your way to the historic village of Chipping Campden. This village meaning ‘Cheap’ which was a derivative of the word market, certainly sets the bar high with being one of the prettiest villages that you will stay in along the way. It feels fitting to start the trail surrounded by rich, honey coloured houses and buildings, and sums up the Cotswolds beauty to a tee. It also features the finest church in the whole of the region, built from the proceeds of the wool industry. The high street is full of lovely boutique shops, and a host of drinking and dining options, ranging from tasty delis offering great local produce, pubs offering traditional British fare, to fine dining restaurants, all within a 100m stretch of high street. Accommodation: The Volunteer Inn with ensuite rooms - This traditional old coaching inn dating back to the 17th century used to recruit volunteer mercenaries. It is located at the end of the high street opposite St Catherine’s Church on the corner of Hoo Lane where the Cotswold Way turns right off the high street.

Meals:  Nil

The start of the Cotswold Way is easy to find as it is right by the old Market Hall. We try to book accommodation in Stanton (10.5 miles/17 km) first however being a small village you may have a shorter walk into Broadway (6 miles/10.5 km). Today is a good introduction to the trail as a whole as you walk through agricultural land and open hills. Make your way up to Dover's Hill where you catch your first views. You will walk along nice wide gravel paths and through wheat fields. Walking through some woods climb to Broadway Tower and roll your way back down towards Broadway where you may be staying tonight. Otherwise climb a short sharp hill out of the village followed by easy walking along wide limestone paths descending into Stanton. Accommodation Stanton - Shenberrow Hill B & B is an attractive country house set in 8 acres. Broadway - You will receive a warm welcome at the 4 star Windrush Guesthouse.

Meals:  B

The trail enters well-manicured, mainly flat pasture land, part of an estate belonging to Stanway House. There will be a chance to see the outside of the beautiful honey coloured Jacobean house from the walk. Entering the tiny hamlet of Woody Stanway, there is a brief walk up and down the Cotswolds escarpment, passing an Iron Age hill fort called Beckbury Camp. This is called Cromwell’s Clump and supposedly where Thomas Cromwell sat and watched Haile’s Abbey being dissolved. Once off the escarpment there is a track leading off to a fruit farm which has a great little tea room and restaurant, as well as a farm shop. Next are the the ruins of pretty Hailes Abbey before the last few kilometres to Winchcombe. This small town was at one point the capital of Mercia and attracted pilgrims to an abbey now long gone. It has a large church built with the riches of the wool trade and beautiful 16th century townhouses built with local honey coloured limestone. It is described as the walker’s capital of the Cotswolds as other long distance routes intersect here. Sudeley Castle close by, is worth a visit; It is the only private castle that has a queen buried within the grounds. Queen Katherine Parr who was the last surviving wife of King Henry VIII. Accommodation: The White Hart Inn, a real gem of a place. It is located right on the trail on the main road. It is a modern and refurbished pub which offers meals and drinks, while upstairs they have ‘rambler’s rooms.’ The accommodation befits a venue of much higher standing.

Meals:  B

A longer day involving the ascent to the highest point in the Cotswolds, Cleeve Hill 1,083 ft (330 m) with potentially great views as you will be mostly walking along the escarpment. After a steep initial climb, on the way is the impressive Belas Knap, an Iron age burial ground. From the escarpment, you descend through beautiful woodland, before climbing back finally to the top of Cleeve Hill. with spectacular views over Cheltenham and Bishop’s Cleeve as well as further away to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. It is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its abundance of rare flora and fauna such as orchids, deer and birds of prey. You now keep the height walking past disused quarries which were used to gather the local stones for the houses below, and nature reserves with rare butterflies. The final section will see you dropping height though old woodland until you get to Dowedeswell Reservoir. The nearest accommodation from the trail is about 1km of walking down the London Road towards Cheltenham, there is more accommodation of course further on in Cheltenham. This regency Spa town is worth a visit even if you are tired, as it is full of interesting buildings, parks and restaurants. Accommodation: Charlton Kings Hotel. This has pleasant large rooms. You may want to explore the culinary delights of what Cheltenham has to offer, and the hotel can arrange a taxi to take you the 2 miles into the city centre.

Meals:  B

Today starts with the climb up again to the top of the Cotswolds Scarp through Lineover Woods, which features ancient beech and lime trees. Once back on the escarpment you will find the going easy, although the trails can be muddy and slippery if it has been raining. You will see how prominent the escarpment is with a steep drop off your side. Eventually reach Leckhampton Hill - the site of one of several Iron-Age hillforts situated on top of the Scarp dotted along the length of the Cotswold Way. The hill was also an important quarry which supplied the limestone building material for Regency Cheltenham and the prominent Devil’s Chimney can be seen from where these quarries once were worked. Next some woodland walking brings you to Crickley Hill, which has a lovely café overlooking the Severn Vale. There is finally a bit of road walking to reach the accommodation in Birdlip. Accommodation: Royal George Hotel. This old stone building is pretty much the only choice in the area, and the only pub in this tiny village. It has plenty of large rooms and serves some really well priced meals before 5pm. On Fridays, there is often a live band playing.

Meals:  B

Returning to the trail from Birdlip, after the initial road walk join a nice wide woodland trail. After about 3.5km you will come to a sign towards the Great Witcombe Roman Villa. It is only a few hundred metres diversion, and well worth seeing. The trail then comes out into a tiny hamlet which is Cooper’s Hill and if you want to challenge yourself, you can walk up the hill itself, but it is incredibly steep, and you will wonder in awe how people run down it chasing cheeses! The actual trail skirts around the right of the hill at a slightly easier gradient. Walk through more lovely woodland and eventually reach the Painswick road where another short walk through the woods will bring you towards the Royal William Pub, at around lunchtime. The Cotswold Way then climbs to the top of the Painswick Beacon - another Iron Age hillfort - before descending into the town of Painswick shortly after. The town is often touted as the ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ - the local stone is of a different hue almost ivory in colour in contrast to the honey coloured limestone that the Cotswolds is famous for. Don't miss the only surviving English Rococo Garden in the country and has been beautifully preserved and original to how it was planted in 1748 and the 15th century St Mary’s church. Accommodation: Troy House, an award-winning small B&B. They serve lovely breakfasts and can arrange packed lunches.

Meals:  B

Leaving the pretty suburbs of Painswick, the trail goes over pasture land and gradually works its way uphill to get back up onto the escarpment again and to a trig point at Haresfield Beacon with some spectacular views towards the Severn River, with the Forest of Dean and Brecon Beacons in the distance. You then walk around to the next obvious spur and into Standish Wood, which features ancient Beech Trees and a long barrow at the end of the wood. Exiting the forest, you head downhill towards the outskirts of Stroud, including a walk through a lovely vineyard. All of a sudden you will have to cross the main road leading into Stroud itself. Reaching a canal. There are two options here for walking into the town. Stroud sits at the bottom of five valleys and became the centre for the wool industry in the 15th century, and in the 18th century over 150 mills were all running which was powered by the rivers running from the valleys. Today it is known for its independent shops and restaurants, and so there is plenty to see when walking around the town. Accommodation: The Clothiers Arms. An easy walk to and from the centre of Stroud, the pub is a traditional stone building with a nice beer garden. It offers meals, and Sunday Roast if you are here on this day. The rooms are all recently decorated and are large and bright.

Meals:  B

The longest day of walking with the most ascent along the trail, but the spectacular views more than make up for it! Having negotiated the outskirts of Stroud, You will walk through the lovely village of Selsley, where the beautiful church was at the heart of the arts and crafts movement; the stained-glass windows were the first commission for William Morris. Further up onto Selsley Common, you will get the first of many superb views. You then have to head back down the Scarp and through pristine ancient woodland before gradually ascending again to Coaley Peak - another site of an Iron Age hillfort, and also that of Nympsfield Long Barrow, which is a 2500 BC Neolithic burial ground. This is a popular picnic spot as it presents a great vantage point of the Severn Vale but also of Cam Long Down where you will be heading to and Tynedale Monument in the distance. There follows a very short and sharp ascent up to Cam Long Down and you will then walk along the ridge towards Dursley and lunch at the Old Spot Inn is recommended. Almost instantly after the pub, you will have another short and sharp, steep climb back up. The trail then splits again for an alternative option, a longer walk which adds another 3 miles/ 4.5km to the route but more splendid views as you walk around the plateau including a visit to the Tynedale Monument, before a descent into Wotton - another important wool trading town. Accommodation: The Swan Hotel is almost directly on the Cotswold Way through Wotton It is a large pub with a host of facilities. It certainly seems like the beating heart of the community, with a number of ensuite rooms.

Meals:  B

A less arduous day although you do have to walk back up to the ecarpment once again. You will then continue up on a quiet road for a while, passing the site of Newmark Park. This is a National Trust managed Tudor hunting lodge with impressive views of the area and lovely gardens. Continue along the Edge and drop down through the woods to then walk through farmland passing through the very quaint village of Alderley with some impressive houses. The walking is now fairly flat, and you pass the pretty hamlet of Lower Kilcott where you will be walking on a quiet road, then another climb will bring you to the Lord Robert Somerset tower, who was in command of the Household Cavalry Brigade at the Battle of Waterloo. Hawkesbury Upton is a good spot to have some food, as there is a great little pub and farm shop. You leave the village on an old Drover’s Road which is a lovely flat and open track with good views to the Severn Vale, continue along passing Horton Court, which features a 12th century Norman Hall and some of the earliest Renaissance motifs used in England. Through Horton reach Little Sodbury along quiet lanes and another ascent and descent. Accommodation: Rock Cottage, A quintessential B&B with welcoming and friendly owners. The rooms are large, comfortable and traditionally decorated.

Meals:  B

From Old Sodbury you will shortly be entering the grand estate of Dodington Park, catching glimpses of the Grade 1 listed manor house as you walk through the stunning 300 acres of private land. The house belongs to the inventor, James Dyson, who is now one of the richest people in the UK. The trail leads to the lovely village of Tomarton. There are a few busy road crossings, as well as treks through grain fields and pastures. You then walk downhill for a while till you reach a village called Dyrham and soon you will be at the gates of the very imposing and beautiful Dyrham Park. There is a National Trust Café within the estate. Passing the hamlet of Pennsylvania, you now only have one more kilometre to walk and you will reach your final destination of Cold Ashton. It is a very pretty village, but few accommodation options which are about 1km out of the village continuing on the quiet road. Accommodation: Hill Farm B&B. This is situated right on the Cotswold Way and really is aimed for walkers on the trail. It is no longer a working farm but was recently converted into quality accommodation spaces and workshops. As there are no places nearby to eat within walking distance, they can do a pre-order dinner service. They also provide you with a full English breakfast of ingredients which you can cook yourself to your own liking.

Meals:  B

The last day on the Cotswold Way certainly does not disappoint! It’s a wonderful last leg, walking through glorious rolling countryside which certainly feels and looks different from the Northern sections. The start of the walk heads downhill for a short while, traversing lovely farmland, before pretty much the only major climb of the day. It is quite steep at times, but you will be surrounded be fantastic views all around you. At the top you will reach a battle monument to Sir Bevill Grenville from the civil war. Passing Bath Race Course, you are treated to a wonderful view of Bath itself as well as further afield to Bristol to the West. It is a pleasant walk down to the outskirts of the city and you reach the suburb of Weston and walk into the city via the beautiful Georgian streets: Royal Crescent, and shortly after that the Circus. Finally pass the Guildhall and finish the trail in front of the imposing Bath Abbey and Roman Baths. The Cotswold Way ends as it started, with a limestone plaque, identical to that in Chipping Campden. Accommodation: Rising Sun Inn, an award-winning pub and restaurant, only a 5 minute walk from Bath Abbey. The rooms are all modern and is a great place to be if you want to be close to the centre of the city.

Meals:  B

Trip concludes after breakfast

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 11 breakfasts, typically Full English
  • 11 nights B&B accommodation on a twin share basis usually with ensuite facilities
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including route notes & maps (1 pack per room booked)
  • Emergency hotline
  • GPX Files

What's Not Included

  • Travel to Chipping Campden and from Bath Spa
  • Lunches, dinners & drinks
  • Transfers
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:12 Days
Countries:England
Starting Point:Chipping Campden
Finishing Point:Bath
Activities:Self-Guided Walking
Grade:moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:WAD
Prices From:GBP£1040 Per Person
Single Supplement:GBP£380  Click for more information
Please do not book any flights or extra arrangements until such time that your booking is confirmed by Sherpa Expeditions by phone or email.