5 mins

9 fabulous walks in the glorious Cotswolds

With rolling green hills, honey-coloured villages and grasslands full of wild flowers and wildlife, the Cotswolds are the archetypal English landscape. These walks will help you make the most of them...

View from Stow-on-the-Wold, Cotswolds (Shutterstock)

1. The Cotswold Way

Broadway Tower folly on the Cotswold Way (Shutterstock)

Broadway Tower folly on the Cotswold Way (Shutterstock)

If you want a glorious overview of the Cotswolds, ticking off everything that makes this one of the most beloved regions in the country, you can’t beat the Cotswold Way. Stretching 100 miles from Bath to Chipping Campden, it's a walk that will reward you with soothing panoramas, picture-perfect villages and pre-historic landmarks.

Hiking the full route will take you seven to ten days, depending on your level of fitness and how easily you are distracted by quaint tea shops and welcoming pubs.

Thankfully, the Cotswold Way incorporates a number of smaller walks, each with their own character, that allows you to sample the district’s charms – like the wildflowers and limestone grassland around Cleeve Common, the pretty market towns of Winchcombe and Snowshill, the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap or the Broadway Tower folly.

2. The Rollright Stones

The Kings Men stone circle, one of three monuments that make up the Rollright Stones (Shutterstock)

The Kings Men stone circle, one of three monuments that make up the Rollright Stones (Shutterstock)

Following a section of the Shakespeare’s Way long distance footpath, this five mile walk will take you from the pretty town of Chipping Norton to a group of stones steeped in mystery.

You’ll spot the monuments as you walk across a green rolling valley. They are split into three groups – a ring of stones, known as the Kings Men, the Whispering Knights burial chamber and the single King Stone.

Legend has it that the stones are a king and his knights, turned to stone by a witch. Spoilsport archaeologists have dated them further back to neolithic times. From the stones, the path continues to the charming hamlet of Little Rollright. 

3. The Wychavon Way

The village of Snowshill (Shutterstock)

The village of Snowshill (Shutterstock)

Created to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Wychavon Way is a delightful walk through meadows, woodlands, orchards and riverside pastures.

42 miles long, it leads keen walkers from the Spa town of Droitwich to the gorgeous village of Broadway, known locally as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds'.

Expect hidden hollows, towering hilltops and breathtaking views across the Vale of Evesham and beyond. As you approach Broadway, note the honey-coloured dry stone walls, a certain sign that you are in the Cotswolds.

5 of the best scenic walking trails in the UK

4. The Blossom Trail

Spring blossoms in the Vale of Evesham (Shutterstock)

Spring blossoms in the Vale of Evesham (Shutterstock)

Canny walkers save this 40-mile signposted route through the beautiful Vale of Evesham for spring. The sun is shining, the sheep are lambing and the cherry and apple trees lining the trail are heavy with pretty pink and white blossom. The Blossom Trail, indeed.

Having said that, the Blossom Trail is beautiful at any time of the year. The Vale of Evesham forms part of the River Avon’s flood plains and is rich in farmlands, orchards and patchworked fields.

You’ll pass plenty of local farm shops, roadside stalls, pick-your-own centres and farmers' markets as you walk. Head to Eversham and simply follow the signs.

5. The Winchcombe Way

View of Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe (Shutterstock)

View of Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe (Shutterstock)

This unique figure-of-eight trail is centred on the Cotswold town of Winchcombe, and offers walkers a number of ways to discover the hidden gems of the northern Cotswolds.

Head east, and you’ll follow the Farmcote Valley to Guiting Wood. Then you'll traverse through quiet valleys and tranquil villages, to Stanway House and its delightful restored watermill. 

Head west, and you’re almost immediately treated to breathtaking views from Langley Hill before dropping down into Gretton and across to Alderton.

After skirting around Dumbleton Hill and Cleeve Common, you’ll descend towards Winchcombe enjoying a lovely view of Sudeley Castle and the surrounding countryside as you enter the town.

6. The Cleeve Hill and Common Walk

Sunset on Cleeve Hill (Shutterstock)

Sunset on Cleeve Hill (Shutterstock)

Cleeve Hill is the highest common in the Cotswolds, famous for its limestone grasslands, abundant wildflowers and unending views across the Malverns and into Wales.

Starting just behind the car park at the Cleeve Hill Golf Club, this six-and-a-half mile circular walk will see you walking over open hilltops, across streams, through woodlands and dodging butterflies in field of blooming flowers.

Walkers are advised to take care when the weather is bad. Heavy mist descends upon the hill with alarming speed, cutting visibility to zero, and quarrying has left plenty of nasty pitfalls in the area.

However, if the weather is good, the views are excellent - as are your chances of spotting rare plants and birds endemic to the area.

Discover the wildest Welsh walking trails here

7. The Diamond Way

Cotswold sheep near Chipping Campden (Shutterstock)

Cotswold sheep near Chipping Campden (Shutterstock)

How do you celebrate the 60th jubilee of your walking association? Well, if you’re the Ramblers’ North Cotswold Group, you create a walk through rural Gloucestershire. What’s more, you make it 65 miles long, and in the rough shape of a diamond.

The walk stretches from Northleach in the south to near Chipping Campden in the north and from Guiting Power in the west to near Bourton-on-the-Water in the east.

Following it from point to point, you walk across undulating farmland and idyllic woodland, past sleepy hamlets of honey-hued stone and along meandering streams. It will take you a week to complete, but with plenty of traditional Cotswold Inns along the way, that’s not really a hardship.

8. The Windrush Way

The River Windrush flowing through Bourton-on-the-Water (Shutterstock)

The River Windrush flowing through Bourton-on-the-Water (Shutterstock)

Looking for a challenging Cotswold walk you can complete in a day? Then the Windrush Way could be for you.

This 14-mile circular walk links the Cotswold Way at Winchcombe with the Oxfordshire Way at Bourton-on-the-Water to provide a delightful walk through the famous Cotswold Hills.

It is a decidedly picturesque walk. The trail cuts up over the hills, through the remains of a few lost medieval villages and along the peaceful River Windrush, from which it takes its name. One for walkers keen looking for a day of Cotswold charm.

9. The Leckhampton Loop

The Devil's Chimney in the Cotswold Hills (Shutterstock)

The Devil's Chimney in the Cotswold Hills (Shutterstock)

Leckhampton Loop is the archetypal Cotswold walk. Starting in the lay-by opposite the Seven Springs pub, this circular route will take you through grasslands, ancient woodlands and finish with an Iron Age fort and a Victorian quarry.

The walk is one of the many circular walks that form part of the Cotswold Way, and is centred around the windswept Charlton Kings Common.

The Iron Age hillfort, about a mile into the walk, was built between 500 and 100 BC. Just past here, you can take a quick detour to one of the region's most famous landmarks, the Devil’s Chimney.

The Chimney is a limestone rock formation that stands above a disused quarry. Look across the Severn Valley here and you’ll agree: the devil gets all the best views.

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