The best walks in the Cotswolds

Family, Activity, Walking

Posted by Kate W on 10th March 2020

Disclaimer

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Get outdoors in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and experience this wonderful region up close with a countryside ramble. 

If you’re a keen walker, and even if you aren’t, there’s so much to see in the Cotswolds that you won’t be able to stop yourself venturing out and about. This exquisite area is crisscrossed with a wide variety of walking trails for you to choose from, whether you’d prefer a rural hike or a stroll through traditional villages, with far-reaching views, iconic attractions, and cosy walkers' pubs where you can end your trek with a well-earned dinner.

Many of these Cotswolds walks would be great for families to follow, allowing children to experience the natural world first hand and burn off some energy on a long trek. These hikes in the Cotswolds make unforgettable dog walks too if you have a canine companion who is young and fit enough to keep up, while couples on a getaway could conquer the more challenging trails together or spend a pleasant day meandering around towns and villages.

Take a look through what we consider to be a few of the best walks in the Cotswolds, and then strike out and begin exploring this beautiful holiday destination.

1.     The Cotswold Way, Cotswold Hills

Broadway Tower

Probably the most well-known walk in the Cotswolds, the Cotswold Way National Trail stretches all along the Cotswold Hills from the idyllic village of Chipping Campden in the north down to the spa city of Bath in the south. It’s 102 miles long and a fantastic challenge for keen hikers, but if you don’t fancy days and days of walking, it can be broken up into many shorter trails, a few of which we’ve included later in this post.

Take a look at this map of the Cotswold Way to get a feel for this wonderful route. 

Distance: 102 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Interestingly, if you choose to tackle the full 10 days’ worth of walking, you could pass through up to 35 different varieties of lavender! So, make sure you venture out along the Cotswold Way during the spring and summer months to see this beautiful and fragrant plant in full bloom. Take a look at the Cotswold Way on National Trails to discover a few iconic attractions you might like to visit during your walk.

Cotswolds cottages

2.     The Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones

This intriguing ancient site is set in the north of the Cotswolds, right on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border, and it’s over 5,000 years old. It’s made up of three elements – the King’s Men stone circle, the King Stone and the Whispering Knights – each of which was created at different times across the Neolithic and Bronze periods of history. It is a wonderful destination to visit and you needn’t walk anywhere. However, if you are planning on stretching your legs, then have a go at the 5.5-mile trail taking you through woodland, over a stile and stream, and through the village of Little Rollright.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

This Rollright Stones trail begins and ends in Salford village which has a pub, farm shop, tearoom and grassy play area for kids to enjoy, where you may decide to stop for a picnic. There are delightful picnic spots en-route too, so you can sit on the grass and enjoy a break before continuing on your Cotswolds walk. Take a look at the full Rollright Stones route for directions.

Chipping Norton cottages

3.     The Diamond Way

Bourton-on-the-Water

So-named as it is roughly a diamond shape route, this Cotswold walk covers much of the north of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a wonderful way to get to know the region. The four corners of this diamond-shaped trail are Northleach (southern point), Chipping Campden (north), Guiting Power (west) and Bourton-on-the-Water (east).

Distance: 66 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Like the Cotswold Way, the Diamond Way route will take days to complete so feel free to break it up into shorter sections. Bourton-on-the Water is known locally as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ and is a delightful place to stay or visit with welcoming pubs and shops, so why not pick one of the trails leading to or from the quintessential village?

Bourton-on-the-Water cottages

4.     The Leckhampton Loop

The Leckhampton Loop

One of the shortest routes in this list, the Leckhampton Loop begins and ends right outside a pub so after you’ve conquered this trail you can pop in for a pint or enjoy a well-deserved dinner. Along the way, you’ll pass an Iron Age hillfort, a nature reserve, and see the Devil’s Chimney limestone rock formation (pictured above).

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

You’ll conquer this trek by following part of the Cotswold Way until you reach Leckhampton Hill, when the Leckhampton Hill Walk provides a scenic route that circles back to the beginning where the pub awaits (find the full directions at National Trails). Leckhampton is a district of the bustling town of Cheltenham, a wonderful place to stay during a Cotswolds getaway with many more local walking opportunities.

Cheltenham cottages

5.     The Windrush Way

The Windrush Way

Linking two National Trails, the Windrush Way is one of two routes that wind from Winchcombe and the Cotswold Way, to Bourton-on-the-Water and the Oxfordshire Way. Its sister route, the Warden’s Way, will take you through pretty Cotswolds villages and is an easier option, but we’ve chosen the Windrush Way as one of our favourite walking trails because it will take you over the hills with fantastic rural views and through the remains of a mysterious ‘lost’ village.

Distance: 13.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

At the beginning of this Cotswold walk, you’ll pass the magnificent Sudeley Castle before climbing up to the idyllic village of Hawling, meandering along past Gazeley Wood and Westfield House, and finally descending to the River Windrush and Bourton-on-the-Water. Both Winchcombe and Bourton-on the-Water have a variety of eateries and shops so you can plan to stop off at a pub at the end of your walk or head straight back to your cosy Cotswolds holiday let to relax.

Winchcombe cottages

6.     The Blossom Trail

The Blossom Trail

Seek out the AA signs and these will lead you through this fantastic springtime trail – you may want to plan your holiday to the Cotswolds accordingly! You’ll pass through Evesham, Broadway and Pershore, taking in charming honey-hued houses and a variety of trees in full bloom. Even though this route is named for its wonderful springtime blossoms, it makes a delightful rural route to follow any time of year.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Strike out through the beautiful Evesham Valley on this route and you’ll meander over the River Avon, past grassy picnic areas and you’ll even pass a variety of cafés and shops too during your exploration. The AA signs are great guides although if you’d prefer, you could download this trail guide from Worcester’s Vale & Spa which has a couple of alterations from the traditional route that takes in additional places of interest. You can cycle or drive around The Blossom Trail too!

Evesham cottages

There are seemingly endless walking trails that crisscross this region, but if you have already explored these routes we’ve no doubt you’ll find many more corners of the Cotswolds to walk during your next break. For more fantastic places to go walking, head over to our Cotswolds outdoor guide to the best walks.

Once you’ve decided which of these walks in the Cotswolds you’d like to tackle, start browsing through our collection of holiday cottages and discover your ideal getaway. From hot tub lodges to family-friendly retreats, big celebration houses to romantic getaways for couples, you'll be spoilt for choice when looking through our range of cottages in the Cotswolds.