Walking the Cotswold Way: Hike the Most Iconic Area in England

By Rintsje Bosch

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Walking the Cotswold Way: Hike the Most Iconic Area in England
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The Cotswolds might be one of the most famous natural scenic areas of Great-Britain. For most people, when thinking about England, the old stone Cotswold houses and glowy, rolling hills come to mind. Walking the Cotswold way is on top of the bucket lists of many hikers, and they are right to have put it there. If you are curious about what is so appealing to many people to visit the Cotswolds, keep on reading this blog!

Where are the Cotswolds?

The Cotswolds are situated above the Severn Valley and the Evesham Valley and reach from the Upper-Thames Valley to the Cotswold Hills, in the south-west of England. The best way to explore this wonderful area is to do a multiple-day trekking, which is generally referred to as The Cotswold Way.

Where are the Cotswolds?

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Distance - How long is the Cotswold Way?

The Cotswold Way is a linear walk with a total length of 164 kilometres (102 miles). The route is quite easily accessible and has good road signage. It can be hiked in six to ten days, but if you want to make more miles in a day, completing the route in as short as four days is possible. The total ascend is 4,000 meters / 13,123 feet.

Distance - How long is the Cotswold Way?

The Cotswold Way Circular Walk

If you want to walk small sections of the Cotswold Way, it is also possible to divide the route into several, circular walks. These are referred to as the Cotswold Way Circular Walks. The upside is that you will not need to spend many days walking the Cotswold Way, but the downside is that you will not get to see a lot of the area. Since the several sections of the Cotswold Way are so different from each other, you will have to choose what to see and what to leave for another trip. Therefore, it is recommended that you walk the route in a linear way.

The Cotswold Way attractions

Some of the main attractions that you will find along the path are Cooper’s Hill, where cheese rolling originated from, the Abbey of Hailes and Sudely Castle by Winchcombe. However, the most beautiful things there are to encounter in the Cotswolds are the iconic yellow-stoned Cotswold houses, and vast nature as far as the eye can see. The route is praised for its diversity, as you will not only see villages, but also rolling hills, forest and typical English countryside scenery. Walk along the Cotswold countryside paths, through immense forests and enjoy your time eating in an English pub in one of the many picturesque villages along the way; the Cotswold Way has it all.

The Cotswold Way attractions

Did you know that we can book all overnight accommodation for the Cotswold Way for you? Check out all our options here.

The Cotswold Way: Start and end point

The route starts in Painswick and works its way down south to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath (nearby Bristol). In the beginning you will spend your way walking through the tiny villages, but it won’t be long before you smell the wild flowers in the English meadows or wander around the beech tree forest, while enjoying some shadow. The end point of the Cotswold Way is the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath. Here, you will find the beautiful Roman Thermal Spas that mark the beginning of the history of the city.

It is recommended to walk the Cotswold Way in the original route, from north to south, as the transportation to Painswick is more difficult than from Bath, and many hikers choose to tackle this problem firstly to assure a smooth way back home.

The Cotswold Way: Start and end point

How to get to the Cotswolds

Take one of the comfortable daily trains from London’s Paddington Station to the Cotswolds (stations Cam & Dursley, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stonehouse, Stroud or Ashchurch), and arrive as soon as one to two hours later.

If you are looking for more of a budget-friendly option to get to the Cotswolds then take the bus from Victoria Coach Station in London. Stops in the Cotswolds are Cheltenham, Gloucester or Stroud. It will take between 2,5 and 3,5 hours to arrive, but will cost significantly less than the train. Busses are comfortable and air conditioned. Be aware that the Cotswold Way is a linear walk, and that you need to get back by yourself at the end of the route.

The Cotswold Way is an easy to medium hike that can be done by any level of hiker. Most of the route is easy, with occasionally some steep ascents and descents, but since the total ascend is only 317 meters above sea level, this is nothing to be worried about.

Cotswold Way: Weather and Best Season

Contrary to other treks in Europe, like the Alta via 2 in the Dolomites and the Salzburger Almenweg in Austria, where you can only trek during the summer months, you can walk the Cotswold Way all year round. However, the best way to visit the Cotswolds is between half of March and the end of October. Be aware that this beautiful area, loved by all, is heavily visited in the summer months of June, July and August, so it might be a little more crowded along the paths, and accommodation might be full.

It is wise to book your Cotswold Way accommodation in advance, at least during this period. Keep in mind that the English weather is unpredictable and that you should take a rain- and windproof jacket, as it can rain a lot in this area.

Cotswold Way: Weather and Best Season

The Cotswold Way Map

Below, you will find a map with the stages of the Cotswold Way, starting in Painswick and ending in Bath (nearby Bristol). The route runs from North to South.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Cotswold Way with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

The Cotswold Way in 8 days - Itinerary

On this 8-day walk (6 stages that include the accommodation before and after the trek), you will start in Painswick and work your way down south to the beautiful Roman Thermal Spas of Bath, nearby Bristol. During the walk you will be wandering alongside tiny English villages, beautiful meadows or tree forests.

Day
1

Painswick

We will book your first night, before starting the Cotswold Way in Painswick, where you will be able to relax and prepare for your adventure.

Troy House (Painswick)

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Troy House (Painswick)
Day
2

Painswick to Stonehouse

Duration: 04:42 h
Distance: 16.8 km
Ascent: 290 m
Descent: 390 m
You will hike from Painswick to Stonehouse. This will take approximately 17 kilometers (4-5 hours). You will walk through meadows and soon reach the beech forests of Standish Wood and Stanley Wood that are along the Cotswold Way.

The White Hart (Stonehouse)

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The White Hart (Stonehouse)
Day
3

Stonehouse to Dursley

Duration: 03:51 h
Distance: 13.6 km
Ascent: 300 m
Descent: 280 m
Next on the planning is the road from Stonehouse to Dursley. This slightly shorter route (14 km) will take you along the 5000 year old graveyard of Nympsfield and will give you a beautiful panoramic view of the Severn Valley. A short and steep descent awaits before you reach the top of Cam Long Down, but it will all be worth it when you see the breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside. Descend to the Dursley village and your day will be complete.

Ye Olde Dursley Hotel (Dursley)

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Ye Olde Dursley Hotel (Dursley)
Day
4

Dursley to Wotton-Under-Edge

Duration: 03:23 h
Distance: 11.5 km
Ascent: 310 m
Descent: 290 m
The next day, you will walk 12 kilometers to Wotton-Under-Edge. This section of the Cotswold Way walk will start with a steep ascent, but will all be worth it when you see the beautiful view of Severn Estuary. When moving on to North Nibley, you will pass the statue of English 16th century celebrity Willian Tyndale, who translated the Bible to English.

Swan Hotel (Wotton-under-Edge)

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Swan Hotel (Wotton-under-Edge)
Day
5

Wotton-Under-Edge to Old-Sodbury

Duration: 05:52 h
Distance: 20.8 km
Ascent: 420 m
Descent: 390 m
Get a good night of sleep and prepare well for day four, as it will be the longest day that you will be hiking this trip. In 21 kilometers, you will go from Wotton-Under-Edge to Old-Sodbury. You will see several villages, but will soon leave them behind for the easy and quiet trails through the Cotswold countryside. At the end of this section, you will have the chance to see two fortresses that are over 2000 years old.

The Dog Inn (Old Sodbury)

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The Dog Inn (Old Sodbury)
Day
6

Old-Sodbury to Cold Ashton

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 16.6 km
Ascent: 240 m
Descent: 210 m
From Old Sodbury, it is time to move on to Cold Ashton. Two attractions along this way are the old aristocrat houses that can be seen in Dodington and Dirham Park. During the 17 kilometers that you will walk this day, you might even see deer, foxes, or other wild animals, if you are lucky.

Hill Farm (Cold Ashton)

Info
Hill Farm (Cold Ashton)
Day
7

Cold Ashton to Bath

Duration: 04:04 h
Distance: 14.6 km
Ascent: 230 m
Descent: 330 m
The sixth day will be the last day of walking, and is a spectacular ending to the Cotswold Way. Firstly, you will walk across a battlefield where one of the battles of the Great-British Civil War was fought in 1643. As you move on, you will end up in the city of Bath, where you can see Bath Abbey laying next to the Roman Baths.

Broad Street Townhouse (Bath)

Info
Broad Street Townhouse (Bath)
Day
8

Departure

After breakfast, our services and your Cotswold Way adventure will be over. Have a safe trip back home!
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Cotswold Way accommodation

Most of the accomodation in the Cotswolds are cozy English B&B’s. You will be warmly welcomed by your host, and provided with a typical English breakfast which will give you enough energy to last the entire morning. After staying in a typical Cotswold B&B, you will surely start your hike well rested and well fed.

Cotswold Way accommodation

Packing List for the Cotswold Way

No matter where you go hiking or for how long, bringing the right equipment is of utmost importance. For your hike, the first thing you need is a good backpack. The size of it will depend on the number of days you will be trekking, the season and the clothes you take with you. If you have luggage transport, the comfort level of your daypack is most important. We have compiled a packing list with a few essential items of clothing you should bring and some extras you might find useful:
  • Essentials

  • Extras

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your accommodation and luggage transport, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Cotswold Way, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

Safety tips for the Cotswold Way

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The Cotswold Way is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the Cotswold Way. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of Cotswold Way and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Cotswold Way.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where Can I Book the Cotswold Way?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Cotswold Way and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations, organizing luggage transportation and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Cotswold Way not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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