Great Walks in The Cotswolds
The Walks
Few areas more epitomise England than the gentle countryside, charming market towns and lovely villages which comprise The Cotswolds. But there is also terrain to satisfy the hardy walker, as well as those looking for a modest ramble followed by a well earned cream tea!
  Background Briefing




Open Skies
Over Wold Country








The Thames Path







Cotswold Cottages





Westonbirt Pak






The Lygon Arms
Broadway




The Market Hall
Chipping Campden




The Stroudwater Canal





The Rollright Stones





Looking Out From
Bredon Hill








The Devil's Chimney
Leckhampton Hill








Stained Glass
In Notgrove Church








































































 

 

















 

























































































Bourton On The Water






Broadway Tower






Chastleton House




Gloucestershire &
Warwickshire Railway







Hailes Abbey






Owlpen Manor





The Rollright Stones







Sudeley Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






























Stow On The Wold
Youth Hostel






The Crown & Cushion Hotel
Chipping Norton
Best Western

 



The Old Manse Hotel
Bourton On The Water
Old English Inns


 


Ask a foreigner to describe their vision of England and the chances are they’ll be talking about the Cotswolds; The gently rolling hills, honey coloured grand houses, homely thatched cottages. An idealised image of England's green and pleasant land, maybe, but one we can enjoy in reality when we walk these hills, lanes and villages.

On other senses
, too, the Cotswolds epitomise our country. For in the very east of this area you can visit the birth-place of the 'Greatest Englishman'., Sir Winston Churchill. Take our Blenheim walk, on which you can circumnavigate Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born, and view the little churchyard at Bladon, where he now rests.

If exploration is your thing
then take our Sapperton walk. This will take you to the very source of the River Thames. At the height of summer the water actually dries up, and is rarely more than a boggy field. But the site is officially marked as the true source of the great waterway.

You can continue
on the mighty River Thames on our walk from the charming village of Buscot, now owned by the National Trust, taking in a small portion of the Thames Path. The river is much more mature here. The Thames Path continues all the way to central London, and then out to the 'Thames Gateway' area in north Kent.

Cotswolds terrain
is generally pretty gentle. But even here there some quite strenuous sections. The ascent of Bredon Hill is a steep climb of 277 metres, and affords stupendous views over the Avon valley and away to the Malvern Hills in the west. The hill is quoted in A.E. Housman's poem 'A Shropshire Lad'. The summit is now National Trust property. Bredon itself is a pretty Worcestershire village, with shops and inns offering welcome refreshment.

Of course
, there are real tourist honey-pots in this area. Bourton on the Water seems to enjoy one of the highest concentrations of tea shops and cosy inns anywhere in England. Even so, it is a lovely village, straddling the banks of the River Windrush, which flows through the village centre. We have devised a Figure of Eight walk, starting from Bourton War Memorial, which can be taken as two separate walks. The first section goes out to Lower and Upper Slaughter; two archetypal Cotswold villages set amidst gentle hills. The curious word Slaughter apparently derives from the old English for a miry or boggy place. Upper Slaughter is known as a 'Sainted' village because it lost none of its men in the Great War.

The second loop
from Bourton on the Water utilises a section of the Monarch's Way long distance footpath up to Clapton on the Hill. The route is said to have been taken by King Charles I, on his flight from Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War.

For a brush with modern Royalty try our Tetbury walk. On this route you skirt the boundary of Charles' and Camilla's country hideaway at Highgrove. Their estate, of course, is not open to the public and there is extensive security around. Still, this easier walk is very pleasant and takes you out to Westonbirt Park and Arboretum before returning to charming Tetbury.

In bygone days the great source of huge wealth in the area was sheep, or more particularly their wool. Many villages and market towns here have especially wide streets to enable drovers to navigate the thoroughfares with their flocks. One such is aptly names; Broadway is said to have the widest High Street of any. In any event Broadway boasts one of the most top-notch hotels in rural England;

The Lygon Arms. With its four-star rating you are assured luxury accommodation and cuisine. We're not sure whether muddy boots are welcome.

Our walk from Broadway
also passes through the unspoiled village of Snowshill. The cottages here are said to be amongst the most photographed in the Cotswolds. Snowshill Manor is a Natural Trust stately home well worth a visit.

Nearby
you can take our Chipping Campden walk, which starts from the village famed as the centre of the 'Arts and Crafts Movement' personified by William Morris in the late Victorian era. This walk takes in Dover's Hill, which you actually ascend twice en-route. The return leg is actually quite a strenuous climb, but with great views to the west. You can feel justified in rewarding your exertion with a visit to one of several excellent tea rooms and inns in Chipping Campden.

Another quintessential Cotswolds
town built upon the wool trade is Burford. Situated in the east of the region, Burford is sometimes called 'The Gateway to the Cotswolds'. Originally an important Saxon settlement, being on a major crossroads and with a ford over the River Windrush. Now with a medieval stone bridge over the river, lovely Tudor and Georgian houses complemented by several cosy inns and tea shops the town is one of the prettiest in the Oxfordshire. Our nearby walk takes in part of the Windrush Valley.

You can combine
a little bit of literary heritage with a pub crawl on our Painswick walk. You could pass, or pause at, several pubs said to be favourites of 'Cider with Rosie' author Laurie Lee. Take refreshment at The Woolpack at Slad, then pop over the road to pay your respects at the old boy's final resting place - that great bar stool in the sky. This same walk climbs up to Painswick Beacon, at 252 metres, giving superb views. Returning to the town, why not visit the churchyard near Painswick's centre. There are said to be 99 yew trees around the church.

This area abounds
with evidence of our most ancient past. There are many earthworks and barrows in the Cotswolds, the precise history of which is very uncertain. Our Uley Bury walk, for example, passes through the Iron-Age hill fort. Its enormous earthen fortifications must have dominated this region at a time long before written records were kept.

High on a hill
north of Chipping Norton you can find the pre-historic Rollright Stones. Thought by many people to be the remains some kind of Pagan temple, perhaps like the Avebury stone circle, the actual purpose of the stones may never be known. In any event you can enjoy great views from the site on our walk from Salford village.

Belas Knap
is a particularly well preserved long barrow, and is thought to date back to around 3000 years before Christ. It stands atop a hill rising some 290 metres above sea level. You can climb it on our Winchcombe Circuit.

On the same Winchcombe walk you pass the magnificent Sudeley Castle. In the Tudor age it was home to Henry VIII's widow, Catherine Parr. In more recent times the privacy afforded by its walls has made it popular for celebrity weddings. It was here that actress and model Elizabeth Hurley married … someone whose name has been forgotten. How fickle public attention can be. Although privately owned, you can visit Sudeley Castle and its grounds at certain times. See our Directory of Local Info. For contact information.

Continuing the Tudor mansion theme, move round to the charming village of Bisley. Adjoining the churchyard is a house with a murky Royal past; Overcote Manor was the home of the infant daughter of Henry VIII, later to become Queen Elizabeth I. Local legend has it that Elizabeth actually died in childhood, but was replaced by a boy. It is said the 'Bisley Boy' was actually crowned as the English monarch, and explains why Elizabeth remained the Virgin Queen.

Our Bisley walk
also takes in the old Stroudwater Canal. Two hundred years ago this watercourse was a primary means of transporting goods between Stroud and the River Severn. It was in commercial use as late as the 1940s, but is now un-navigable for much of its length. The section we walk is now a rich haven for many kinds of wildlife.

Many periods of English history
are well evidenced in the Cotswolds. Chedworth Roman Villa is actually hidden away in a wooded coombe, surrounded by other Roman sites. The Chedworth Villa and its museum have fascinating displays of floor mosaics and other artefacts from the Roman period. Our Chedworth walk starts and finishes at the Villa car park where there are also refreshment facilities.

One of the most pivotal moment
s in our religious history is represented by the Tyndale Monument which can be visited on our Nibley walk. William Tyndale was born here in 1494, and became the prime mover in translating the Bible from Latin into English, a move which was fiercely opposed by the Catholic Church of the time. Tyndale was eventually tried and burned at the stake for heresy. But he undoubtedly had a major influence on the later break with the Church in Rome and the establishment of The Church of England.

The Cotswolds area includes several counties; Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and a little section of Warwickshire. Whichever part of the Cotswolds you first walk, the chances are you'll come back over and over again, like many walkers and visitors before.




     CONTRIBUTORS    

Cotswolds walks, pictures and
background info have been compiled by:
David Hinchliffe, Anthony Colis, Ruth Sillitoe, 
Eric Joyce and Dave Beer




       THE COTSWOLDS - THE WALKS      

Download your walk report by clicking on its icon

  Walks Without An Icon Will Be Ready This Summer   

BLENHEIM AND THE CHURCHILL LEGACY 
A ramble around the Blenheim Palace Estate, with an extension to Churchill's grave
7.2 miles or 9.2 miles (11.5 km or 14.7 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

BIBURY CIRCUIT 
A gentle walk along the Coln Valley to the picturesque village of Bibury
7.2 miles or 5.0 miles (11.5 km or 8.0 km)
Toughness Rating: 1

BISLEY & THE STROUDWATER CANAL
A moderate walk through woods and by the canal
7.1 miles (11.4 km)
Toughness Rating :  2

BOURTON ON THE WATER 
A gentle stroll from Bourton to Upper & Lower Slaughter, the first loop of a Figure of Eight
5.4 miles (8.7 km)   
Toughness Rating : 1  

BOURTON & THE WINDRUSH VALLEY  
Continue the Bourton Figure of Eight with a riverside and hill walk to Clapton on the Hill
6.6 miles (10.5 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

THE ASCENT OF BREDON HILL
Visit several archetypal Cotswolds villages, and 'conquer' Bredon Hill 8.0 miles (12.8 km)
Toughness Rating : 4

BROADWAY & SNOWSHILL
A fairly strenuous walk from Broadway village to beautiful Snowshill 8.3 miles or 10.1 miles (13.4 km or 16.3 km)
Toughness Rating : 3

CASTLE COMBE 
A relatively short and easy walk from the village said to be England’s prettiest
5.2 miles (8.3 km)
Toughness Rating: 1

CHIPPING CAMPDEN 
& THE ASCENT OF DOVER’S HILL 

A sometimes steep walk ascending Dover’s Hill, from the famous 'Arts & Crafts' village
5.3 miles or 4.2 miles (8.5 km or 6.7 km)
Toughness Rating : 4

CHEDWORTH ROMAN VILLA 
From Chedworth Roman Villa, a gentle walk out to pretty Withington village
10.3 miles (16.5 km)
Toughness Rating : 2  

COTSWOLD WATER PARK
Quite a flat walk around the Water Park and the Thames Path
6.9 miles (11.0 km)                   
Toughness Rating : 1

EDGEWORTH TO MISERDEN  
An easier walk between attractive villages in the upper Frome valley 6.5 miles (10.4 km)
Toughness Rating : 1

FIVE WOLDS VILLAGES FROM HAZLETON
Stride out over high wolds on this moderate walk
10.1 miles (16.2 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

LECKHAMPTON & COBERLEY 
A moderate walk affording panoramic views and tranquil countryside
9.1 miles (14.6 km)
Toughness Rating : 1

MINCHINHAMPTON CIRCUIT 
A fairly easy walk around the high plateau of Minchinhampton Common
6.6 iles (10.5 km)
Toughness Level:
  2

MINSTER LOVELL  
An easier Figure of Eight walk from a delightful village
8.1 miles (13.0 km)
Toughness Rating:  1

NIBLEY TO CHARFIELD CIRCUIT
A moderate walk with spectacular views of the Severn Valley
10.6 miles (17.0 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

PAINSWICK BEACON & CIDER WITH ROSIE
A strenuous roller coaster of a walk, with hostelries well known to Laurie Lee
12.4 miles (19.9 km)
Toughness Rating : 3

THE ROLLRIGHT STONES                                      
An easier walk in hilly countryside, visiting the pre-historic stones near Chipping Norton
7.8 miles (12.5 km)
Toughness Rating : 2  

THE SOURCE OF THE RIVER THAMES - FROM SAPPERTON
A gentle expedition to find the tiny source of England's mightiest river 12.8 miles (20.5 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

TETBURY & THE MONARCH'S WAY  
An easier walk from delightful Tetbury, passing Charles' & Camilla's estate
7.0 miles or 9.5 miles (11.3 km or 15.4 km)
Toughness Rating : 1

THE THAMES PATH FROM BUSCOT                       
Take a section of the River Thames Path from Buscot National Trust village
9.1 miles or 4.4 miles (14.5 km or 7.0 km)
Toughness Rating : 1

ULEY & THE IRON AGE FORT  
A moderate walk deep into history, with an ancient hill fort and a pretty hamlet
5.8 miles (9.2 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

WINCHCOMBE & BELAS KNAP 
Walk part of the Windrush Way and pre-historic Belas Knap
8.5 miles (13.5 km)
Toughness Rating : 1

THE WINDRUSH WAY FROM GUITING POWER 
A longish walk following part of the River Windrush through meadows and woodland
12.4 miles (19.9 km)
Toughness Rating : 2

THE WINDRUSH VALLEY
A stroll around the undulating countryside west of Burford
6.6 miles (10.5 km)
Toughness Rating: 2

WOTTON-UNDER-EDGE AND OZLEWORTH
A longish walk, taking in a beautiful valley with much of interest
11.8 miles (18.8 km)
Toughness Rating: 2


* This walk also features in our Wiltshire edition



 
TOUGHNESS RATINGS

All our Cotswolds routes can be undertaken by reasonably fit walkers able to utilise our map segments, together with the route guidance notes. Always consider recent and forecast weather.

Each walk has been allocated a Toughness Rating:

  1.     Easier walks with modest ascent and generally on well defined paths. There may be stiles or narrow gateways to negotiate.

  2.     Routes which are more demanding. They may include more ascent and possibly paths which are looser or more difficult underfoot.

  3.     More strenuous walks with some steep sections, higher paths or places which may be wet and boggy.

  4.     The most demanding walks in this edition. There may be prolonged steep ascents. Conditions may be challenging underfoot.

Toughness Ratings are allocated in the context of the terrain in the edition area.
For example a walk rated as demanding in the Cotswolds may be equivalent to a moderate route in the Brecon Beacons.





Directory of Local Information Sources

     WHAT TO SEE      

Our selection of the most interesting things to see
or visit on or near the walks

 

Birdland
Park and Gardens
Bourton on the water
01451 820480
Hundreds of exotic birds
www.birdland.co.uk

Blenheim Palace
Stately Home
Woodstock
08700 60 20 80
Visit the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill www.blenheimpalace.com

Broadway Tower
18th Century Gothic Folly
Broadway Hill, near Broadway
01386 850930
Superb panoramic views from the tower www.broadwaytower.co.uk

Chastleton House
National Trust Property
Near Chipping Norton
01608 674355
Fine Jacobean Mansion
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Cotswold Farm Park
Experience Farm Life
Near Guiting Power
01451 850307
All weather fun for all the family
www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk

Cotswold Motor Museum
30 Cars and More
Sherborne Street, Bourton on the water
01451 821255
Cars, motorbikes and caravans

Cotswold Wildlife Park
160 Acres of Park and Gardens
Bradwell Grove, Burford
01993 825728
See wildlife in landscaped grounds
www.cotswoldwildlifepark.com

Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway
Steam Railway
The Railway Station, Toddington
01242 621405
20 miles of steam train experience
www.gwsr.com

Hailes Abbey
English Heritage property
Near Winchcombe
01242 602398
See this place of medieval pilgrimage www.english-heritage.org.uk

Hidcote Manor Garden
National Trust Property
Near Chipping Campden
01380 438333
Superb formal gardens
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Kelmscott Manor
Home of William Morris
Kelmscott, Near Burford
01367 252486
Former home of ‘Arts and Crafts’ pioneer William Morris www.kelmscottmanor.co.uk

Minster Lovell Hall and Dovecote
15th Century Manor House
Minster Lovell, Near Witney
English Heritage Site
www.english-heritage.org.uk

The Old Mill
Museum of Mill Life
Lower Slaughter
01451 820052
Museum, craft shop and tea rooms


Owlpen Manor
Tudor House and Gardens
Near Uley
01453 860261
Tours and Refreshment

The Pudding Club
Famous Restaurant for Pudding Lovers
Threeways Hotel, Mickleton, Near Chipping Campden
01386 438429
Internationally renowned eatery
www.puddingclub.com

Rollright Stones
Pre-historic Standing Stones
Near Great Rollright
Overlooking Chipping Norton

Snowshill Manor
National Trust Property
Snowshill, Near Broadway
01386 852410
Stately home and art collection
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Sudeley Castle
Fairy Tale Castle
Near Winchcombe
01242 602308
Castle and gardens
www.sudeleycastle.co.uk

Tewkesbury Abbey
Abbey and Grounds
Church Street, Tewkesbury
01684 850959
Abbey tours
www.Tewkesburyabbey.org.uk  

Westonbirt Arboretum
The National Aboretum
Westonbirt, Near Tetbury
01686 880220
A superb display of forestry
www.forestry.gov.uk

 

        GETTING HELP        


Tourist Information Centres

Free local guide brochures available by post.
Information and an accommodation booking service
is available at the centres listed below.

Bath Tourist Information Centre
Abbey Church Yard, Bath
Tel: 0870 4201278

Bourton on the Water Tourist Information Centre
Victoria Street, Bourton on the Water
Tel: 01451 820211

Burford Tourist Information Centre
The Brewery, Sheep Street, Burford
Tel: 01993 823558
www.cotswolds.com

Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre
77 The Promanade, Cheltenham
Tel:01242 522878

Chipping Norton Visitor Information Centre
The Guildhall, Goddards Lane, Chipping Norton
Tel: 01608 643384

Cirencester Visitor Information Centre
Corn Hall, Market Place, Cirencester
Tel: 01285 654180

Cotswold Visitor Information Centre
Hollis House, The Squeam, Stow-on-the-Wold
Tel: 01451 831082

Tetbury Tourist Information Centre
33 Church Street, Tetbury
Tel: 01666 503552

Witney Tourist Information Centre
Market Square, Witney
Tel: 01993 775802

Woodstock Tourist Information Centre
Park Street, Woodstock
Tel: 01993 813276


National Organisations

The Ramblers Association
Representing walkers throughout Britain
Tel: 020 7339 8500
www.Ramblers.org.uk

English Heritage
Preserving and maintaining our heritage in England
www.English-Heritage.org.uk

The National Trust
Properties described on their web site
Tel: 0870 458 4000
www.NationalTrust.org.uk


      WHERE TO STAY     


An accommodation booking service throughout the Cotswolds is available online or by telephone to the numbers listed in our Getting Help section above.

The main website: www.cotswolds.com

Other Organisations

Youth Hostels Association
All properties in the area and throughout
the U.K. are described on their web site.
Directory available free to members
Tel: 0870 770 8868
www.yha.org.uk

Camping & Caravanning Club
Details of 1400 camp sites on the web site
Tel: 0845 130 7632
www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
     


Town & Country Hotels

FREE directories and web sites for regional and national hotel groups or franchises:

Best Western Hotels
Franchised hotels throughout Britain
Tel: 0845 33 00 415
www.BestWestern.co.uk

Corus Hotels
Country & town centre hotels throughout Britain
Tel: 0845 300 2000
www.CorusHotels.com

The Independents
Consortium of 2 & 3 star hotels throughout Britain
Tel: 0800 88 55 44
www.TheIndependents.co.uk

Marston Hotels
Independent four star hotels throughout England
Tel: 0845 1300 700
www.MarstonHotels.com

Old English Inns
Classic Inns across England
Tel: 0800 917 3085
www.OldEnglishInns.co.uk

Premier Travel Inn
470 budget hotels across the U.K.
Tel: 0870 242 8000
www.PremierTravelInn.com

Travelodge
Budget accommodation across the U.K.
Tel: 08700 850 950

Welcome Break
Budget accommodation at motorway services
Tel: 0800 731 4466

 



          Essential        

Contributors

Safe & Courteous

Walking Our Routes

Toughness Ratings

         Local Info        

Getting Help

What To See

Where To Stay


        Best Links        

Weather To Walk

Ramblers Association

English Heritage

The National Trust


Camping and
Caravanning Club


Youth Hostels

Town & Country
Hotel Groups

 

 

 

 



 




 

 

Great Walks text and pictures are the copyright of Synchra Communication Ltd 2009

Mapping is the copyright of Synchra Communication Ltd 2009
Developed under License from The Ordnance Survey