Cotswold Way: A 164 km national walking trail from Bath to Chipping Campden:
England’s classic Cotswold Way walk is a 164 km route that takes walkers along the limestone ridge, the scarp of the Cotswold Edge. It’s a wonderful walking holiday that will take you through England’s heart.
The walk can be done in as little as 8 days, but for a more pleasurable walking experience 11 days is recommended. In planning an itinerary, some of the considerations in determining the distance for each day should include the type of terrain, the accommodation, weather, time of year and how fit one is.
The following is an outline of the 11-day walk itinerary that we chose. We decided on this itinerary because of the reasonable distances and the available accommodation.
Begin at: Bath, England.
How to get there: Trains or buses from London’s Victoria Station to Bath. Then take a taxi to your accommodation.
Day 1. Bath – Cold Ashton (16km)
– After looking at the Roman Baths and the Jane Austen Centre, a glorious walk through Regency and Victorian Bath and out to the countryside. The Way crosses some main roads before arriving at the quiet village of Cold Ashton.
Day 2. Chipping Sodbury (17.5km)
Some hill climbing today. One thing that starts to become apparent today is the walk’s mix of farms, pastures, woods, country estates, golf courses and little villages. And these sites will be repeated from time to time along the Cotswold Way.
Day 3. Wotton-under-edge (17.5km)
The Way now starts to become a little simpler and for much of the day it follows the extensive limestone scarp quite faithfully, climbing to the heights and down again to the vale several times. Visit St. Adeline’s Church in Little Sodbury (William Tyndale preached here). The Somerset monument, after a military commander, Somerset who served under Wellington at Waterloo. We reach Wotton-under-edge, once a wool town.
Day 4. Dursley (11km)
This section has many ups and downs and is typical of the Cotswolds. Over the next two days you will ascend and descend about 830 metres, so prepare yourself for some fine, if energetic walking. Visit the Tyndale monument on Nibley Knoll. After the descent from the Knoll there is another walk up to Stinchcombe Hill before the final walk into Dursley.
Day 5. Randwick (11.5km)
After Dursley we come to Cam Long Down, an isolated wedge of hill, a detached outlier of the main Cotswold scarp. The Cotswold way climbs its western spur and traverses its whole length. We visit Hetty Pegler’s Tump and Nymphsfield Long Barrow, Neolithic burial mounds. We walk through a number of villages such as Middleyard Kings Stanley before making it to Randwick.
Day 6. Painswick (14.5km)
On the way is Standish Wood and the marvellous open top of Haresfield Beacon. Today we walk through some other delightful woods, Cliff Wood, Halliday’s Wood and Maitland’s Wood. We walk through Edge and have our first glimpse of the wonderful Cotswold village of Painswick.
Day 7. Birdlip (11.5km)
After visiting Painswick’s fine St. Mary’s Church and the Rococo Gardens, today’s walk is through a mix of fields, pastures, downland, woodland, villages and small townscapes, with excellent viewpoints from the edge of the Cotswold scarp. A varied itinerary today. First a climb up to Painswick Beacon, an Iron Age Hill Fort. Then down to Prinkash Abbey to visit this relatively modern Benedictine monastery. Further along we come to Cooper’s Hill where the annual cheese rolling events are held. If you have the time you will be able to visit Witcombe Roman Villa with its fine Roman mosaics.
Day 8. Langett (near Cheltenham) (25km)
We first walk up Crickley Hill, a Neolithic settlement and then on to Leckhampton Hill and the Devil’s Chimney, the symbol of the Cotswolds. Then to Seven Springs – claimed as an alternative early source of the Thames. Further on are Chatcombe and Lineover Woods, before we arrive at Langett and our B&B on the shore of the Dowdswell Reservoir.
Day 9. Winchcombe (11km)
We bypass the large spa city of Cheltenham and walk up Cleeve Hill, great views. We descend to a velley and then continue uphill (again) and come to Belas Knap, a magnificent Neolithic Long Barrow, built 5,000 years ago. Further along we take the alternative route to Sudeley Castle and spend a few hours exploring the former home of Katherine Parr, one of King Henry’s wives. We then walk the remaining few kilometres into Winchcombe.
Day 10. Stanton (13km)
Today is another day full of wonder as we walk to Hailes Abbey, on of the most famous pilgrimage sites during medieval times. We walk through two delightful Cotswold villages, Stanway and Stanton. Then we pay a visit to Snowshill Manor, the work of a tireless collector.
Day 11. Chipping Campden (16km) – your destination!
More ups and downs – what did you expect? From Stanton we walk to Broadway and the well-known upmarket Lygon Arms Hotel. Then to the folly known as Broadway. Then a pleasant walk to Fish Hill, Mile Drive and Drover’s Hill and we’re there. Visit St James and the Jacobean Market Hall.
How to get back from Chipping Campden: Bus to Stratford-Upon-Avon, train to London.
Our Take: There is a lot to see on this 164 km journey across northern England. A good option is to spend an extra day in Bath to explore this fine Victorian-era town.