Best walks in the Cotswolds

With rolling green hills, chocolate box villages, quaint little farm shops and picturesque stone properties with a fascinating history, there’s every reason to love the Cotswolds. This beautiful part of the world has been decorating postcards and biscuit tins for years. So why not pull on your hiking boots and enjoy some of the best walks in the Cotswolds? Here are some wonderful routes for you to try.

1. Stow-on-the-Wold to Bourton on the Water

If you’re feeling energetic and in the mood for a decent hike, then the 11-mile circuit from Stow-on-the-Wold to Bourton-on-the-Water could be the right route for you. Your trek begins in Stow, the highest of the Cotswold towns, which is nestled on top of an 800-foot hill and offers splendid views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a quaint little market town and, if you’ve got time, be sure to squeeze in a spot of antique shopping or a walk around the weekly farmer’s market before setting off on your ramble for the day.

From Stow, you’ll trace the Gloucestershire Way south west to the watermill and stone footbridges at Lower Slaughter. The Gloucestershire Way is a long-distance footpath that provides ample opportunity for explorers to see the Cotswolds at their finest. You’ll then turn towards Bourton-on-the-Water, where you can take a break at one of the many eateries and cafés - or simply dangle your legs in the River Windrush. There’s also a fish and chip shop here should you fancy an indulgent treat, as well as several old-fashioned sweet shops where you can choose some retro treats for the walk back. 

Once you’re done looking around Bourton, which is in itself incredibly striking and quintessentially British, you’ll then briefly join the Oxfordshire Way on its march to Wych Rissington. Head north among hedgerows and country lanes until Stow reappears past the crest of Maugersbury Hill. You’ll probably want to leave a good three to five hours to complete this route without having to rush. This will allow time for sightseeing and photo opportunities along the way.

2. The Cotswold Way

Whether you're looking at glamping holidays in the Cotswolds or are planning to visit friends and relatives in the area, you might be wondering how to spice up your trip. The good news is you won’t be bored in this part of the world. There’s plenty to do – and a hike along The Cotswold Way is sure to be a highlight.

This exciting route stretches 100 miles from the historic city of Bath to the town of Chipping Campden. Along the way, you’ll enjoy panoramic views, visit picture-perfect villages, and discover pre-historic landmarks, including the Neolithic long barrow at Belas Knap. Romans also left their mark on the Cotswold landscape, with the Great Witcombe Roman Villa located not far from this popular Cotswolds walking trail

Hiking the full route will take you 7-10 days, depending on your fitness levels, but The Cotswold Way also incorporates a number of smaller walks, each with their own character. For example, you can enjoy a delightful circular walk through the village of Chipping Campden. This leads you from the Market Hall and along The Cotswold Way to Dover’s Hill. You can then turn right down a bridleway and keep walking to explore Lynches Wood, or you can turn left along the Cotswold Way, which will lead you to a stunning viewing point. 

The short walk through Chipping Campden is three miles and takes around 90 minutes. The longer route is 4.5 miles and takes around 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your speed.

3. Minster Lovell Ruins Walk 

If you’re looking for short walks in the Cotswolds that are easy to slip in before a Sunday roast, then don’t miss a tour of the Minster Lovell Ruins. This 3.6 mile circuit walk starts at the Old Swan Pub and takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

The Old Swan pub stands at the entrance to Minster Lovell, overlooking the River Windrush which arcs around the local cricket pitch. At the other end, a striking church stands beside the ruins of an old manor. From here, the trail heads down one side of the Windrush valley before crossing a bridge and retuning at a slightly higher elevation. If you fancy breaking the walk up with a family picnic then you can stop by the ruins or at a nearby meadow, which is a little further downstream. The river running through it is perfect for swimming during the warmer months, so it’s well worth bringing a change of clothes and a towel.

When it comes to things to do in the Cotswolds, walking is definitely a great way to see the area in detail. After all, you tend to spot more when on foot.

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