The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way is a long distance walking trail that runs between the market town of Chipping Campden in the north and the city of Bath in the south.
The Trail is over 100 miles (164 km) long and for most of that it follows along on the Cotswold escarpment. The trail passes through many beautiful villages and close to a significant number of historic sites, for example the Roman city of Bath (a world heritage site), the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap, Sudeley Castle and Hailes Abbey, near Winchcombe. Not to mention many beautiful churches and historic houses.
Travelling by public transport? The Cotswolds Conservation Board publishes a series of Explore the Cotswolds by public transport guides and timetables, including one for the Cotswold Way. There is also a sherpa van service to help you walk the route without a car.
If the idea of walking 102 miles seems a little ambitious or daunting, there are a number of shorter, circular walks along the route, after all, the best walks aren’t necessarily the longest ones.
Circular walks along the Cotswold Way
Here are a some of the best walks along the route that take in parts of the Cotswold Way, allowing you to experience it without having to tackle the whole thing in one go.
This enjoyable short walk takes you through the quintessentially English market town of Chipping Campden – with its honey coloured stone cottages, around shaded woodlands and past breathtaking views of the rolling countryside. A wonderful introduction to the Cotswolds and an excellent start to the Cotswold Way.
- Distance: 4½ miles (Short cut: 3 miles)
- Duration: 2½ -3½ hrs (Short cut: 1½-2½ hrs)
- Difficulty: Moderate, some steep sections (Short cut: Easy, avoids climbs)
Broadway and Broadway Tower
This delightful walk leads you through the picture perfect Cotswold high street of the village of Broadway, following historic tracks up hill to the fascinating Broadway Tower with its spectacular views across 16 counties. An excellent chance to taste a little more of what the Cotswolds has to offer.
- Distance: 4 miles
- Duration: 2½ -3 hrs
- Difficulty: Moderate, some steep sections and stiles
Stanton, Snowshill and the Edge
Walk between two of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, over hilltops, down valleys and through secluded woodlands. Although this walk is slightly more challenging than other walks, your efforts will be rewarded by invitingly warm pubs and some of the most wonderful views of the Cotswolds hills.
- Distance: 6 miles (Short cut 2½ miles)
- Duration: 3½ -4½ hrs (Short cut 1½ – 2½ hrs)
- Difficulty: Moderate, some steep sections and stiles. Muddy sections after wet weather.
Winchcombe and Belas Knap
This scenic and interesting little walk takes you from the delightfully unspoilt town of Winchcombe, along routes old and new, and up to one of the area’s most intriguing ancient monuments. A wonderful combination of history and scenery that should leave you eager to discover more of this National Trail and the inspiring landscape that it runs through.
- Distance: 5¼ miles (Short cut route 3½ miles)
- Duration: 3 – 4 hrs (Short cut 2 – 3 hrs)
- Difficulty: Moderate, some steep sections and stiles
The Cleeve Hill Ring
This breathtaking walk takes you over open hilltops, across streams and through woodlands, immersing you in one of the country’s most fascinating and precious habitats – limestone grassland. Over half of this wildflower and butterfly rich natural resource is within the Cotswolds. Some of the finest examples can be found on Cleeve Common. The unsurpassed views along the way are the perfect backdrop for experiencing the wonder of the Cotswolds scenery.
- Distance: 6 miles (Shorter route 4 miles)
- Duration: 3½ – 4½ hrs (Shorter: 2 – 3 hrs)
- Difficulty: Moderate, no stiles but some steep sections (Shorter: Easy, no stiles and mostly level)
The Leckhampton Loop
This walk guides you around one of the most beautiful and varied stretches of the Cotswold Way. From rich grassland to peaceful woodlands, Iron-Age remains to Victorian quarries, this route offers up a taste of the entire Cotswold landscape in 4 ½ sheltered and windswept miles.
- Distance: 4 ½ miles
- Duration: 2½ – 3 hrs
- Difficulty: Moderate, no stiles but some steep sections
Cranham Coopers and the Beechwoods
This beautiful little walk shows you around one of England’s most treasured habitats, beech woodlands, and leads you to the site of perhaps the Cotswolds’ most iconic and hazardous tradition, cheese-rolling. Follow these four short miles and discover the cathedral-like calm of Buckholt Wood, richly carpeted with bluebells in May, and wonder at the dizzying heights of Cooper’s Hill, where for hundreds of years the brave and the foolhardy have risked their necks for cheese and glory…
- Distance: 4 miles
- Duration: 2 – 3 hrs
- Difficulty: Easy. No stiles, but some moderately steep sections.
The Selsley Circuit
This extremely popular walk is one of the easiest to follow, winding its way along the National Trail for nearly all of its length. Through sheltered beech woodlands and over rich open grassland, it guides you around remnants of an industrial past that shaped the Cotswolds landscape we love today. Wander between the grandeur of Victorian mills alongside the sleepy beauty of the waterway, and discover a timeless journey between past and present that reveals yet another face of the glorious Cotswolds.
- Distance: 5 miles
- Duration: 3 – 4 hrs
- Difficulty: Moderate – Three stiles, some steep sections.
Cam Long Down and Uley
The incredible variety of the Cotswold Way is once again explored by this stunning little walk. From woodland tracks to open hilltops, it leads you around the intriguing ancient history of Uley Bury to the more recent remains of a pestilent past. Even the few hillside climbs are rewarded by compass-wide views that spread out all around you back into the heart of the Cotswolds and across the Severn Estuary into Wales…
- Distance: 4 miles (shorter route: 1½ miles)
- Duration: 2½ – 3½ hours (shorter: ¾ – 1½ hours)
- Difficulty: Moderate to difficult – Some stiles, steps and steep sections.
As rich farmland gives way to woodland tracks and rolling parkland, this enchanting walk leads you from the top of the escarpment to valley bottom, back into one of the Cotswold’s most charming and thriving small towns. With spectacular views, intriguing shops and historic architecture, all tastes will find something wonderful in this special little corner of the Cotswolds.
- Distance: 5 miles (6½ with detour to Newark Park)
- Duration: 3 – 4 hrs (4 – 5 hours with detour)
- Difficulty: Moderate – Stiles and steep sections.
Old Sodbury – The Hill Fort and Church
From the delightful village of Old Sodbury, follow the Cotswold Way up to the serenity of a medieval church, around oak-fringed farmland and along shaded paths to the breath-taking outcrop of an iron-age hillfort. Views, history, peace and rest all combine to make this simple little stroll a wonderful taster of the southern Cotswolds.
- Distance: 2½ miles
- Duration: 1½ – 2 hrs
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate – no stiles, steepish slopes.
Journey’s End – The Walk into Bath
Discover a true sense of pilgrimage with this wonderful walk into the heart of Bath and the southern end of the Cotswold Way. Follow the trail as it slides from open hill top into historic city, winding its way around open farmland and down bustling alleyways to its crescendo at the majestic splendour of Bath Abbey.
- Distance: 6 miles (linear – public transport return)
- Duration: 3½ -4 hrs (plus max. ½ hr return)
- Difficulty: Moderate – one stile, some steep sections.
The Cotswold Way is one of many walking routes in the Cotswolds, you can find more information about other long distance routes on our page dedicated to walking in the Cotswolds.