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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!

Are you looking for an offer for the Cotswolds? Check out our options here!

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.

beautiful valley in the cotswold way

Distance - How long is the Cotswold Way?

The Cotswold Way is a linear walk with a total length of 164 kilometres. 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 4000 meters.

Would you like to take a short break, and walk the Cotswold Way in four days? Check out this offer!

cotswold way houses

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.

cotswold way iconic houses

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.

cotswold way bath unesco world heritage site

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.

Rather walk along the English coast? Check out our blog about the South West Coast Path.

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.

yellow stone cotswold houses

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.
map of the cotswold way
The Komoot app is a very useful tool when it comes to planning your trekking adventures.

The Cotswold Way in 8 days - Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Painswick

Start your hike with getting to Painswick, and get a good night of sleep before the adventure starts.

Day 2 - From Painswick to Middleyard

On your second day in the Cotswolds, you will hike from Painswick to Middleyard. This will take approximately 15 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.

Distance: 15 km
Walking time: 4-5 hours
bluebell in the cotswold forest

Day 3 - From Middleyard to Dursley

Next on the planning is the road from Middleyard to Dursley. This slightly shorter route (12 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 ascent 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.

Distance: 12 km
Walking time: 3-5 hours

Day 4 - From Dursley to Wotton-Under-Edge

On the fourth 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 William Tyndale, who translated the Bible to English.

Distance: 12 km
Walking time: 3-4 hours

Day 5 - From Wotton-Under-Edge to Old-Sodbury

Get a good night of sleep and prepare well for day five, 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.

Distance: 21 km
Walking time: 5-7 hours

Day 6 - From Old-Sodbury to Cold Ashton

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 14 kilometers that you will walk this day, you might even see deer, foxes, or other wild animals, if you are lucky.

Distance: 14 km
Walking time: 4-5 hours

Day 7 - From Cold Ashton to Bath

The seventh 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. Enjoy this sight and go back to your cozy B&B to relax and prepare for departure.

Distance: 17 km
Walking time: 4-6 hours valley along the cotswold way

Day 8 - Departure

It’s time to leave the Cotswolds behind, as you have successfully completed the Cotswold Way walk. Gather your belongings and make your way back to London or Bristol airport, while still dreaming of the breathtaking sites that you have seen, and the history that you have learned about this iconic English area.

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.

bed and breakfast along the cotswold way

Packing list for walking the Cotswold Way

When packing for your hiking trip in Great-Britain, the weather can be the biggest challenge. The UK is known for its rainy weather, but when you’re lucky, you might find yourself walking in the sun. Be sure to prepare for all weather conditions and try to base your clothing on the "three-layer" principle. This consists of a base layer, which will absorb the moisture from your skin; a middle layer, which should provide some warmth; and a waterproof outer layer to protect you from the rain and the wind.

  • Trousers and a light jacket; waterproof, lightweight, and quick-drying

  • Shirts for base layer

  • Warm jacket or pullover for middle layer

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Hat to provide shade

  • Sunglasses

  • Trekking boots, worn in

  • Good quality socks

  • Extra footwear for the night

  • Map

  • Waste bags

  • Whistle to summon assistance in case of accidents

  • Water bottle containing enough water to take you to your next stop

  • Emergency food and snacks (high energy snacks such as chocolate, dried fruit, energy bars etc.)

  • Hiking poles

  • First aid kit and blister bandaids

  • English Pounds

  • Passport (as the UK is now a non-EU country)

  • Travel power adapter

the cotswold way walk

Where can I book the Cotswold Way walk?

The Cotswold Way walk offers the opportunity to embark on a completely self-guided, British adventure. The biggest challenge on this trek is not so much following the route, but booking accommodation along the way. If you need help booking accommodation in the Cotswolds, we can give you a hand. Our trekking specialists can book accommodation for you, so you can prepare for your Cotswold Way hiking adventure without stress. Contact our trekking experts today and start planning your trekking adventure in England!

Are you looking for a different route or hiking area in the British Isles? Then read one of our other informative blog posts:

-Hiking in Scotland
-Hiking in Northern Ireland
-Hiking in Wales

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