Cotswold Way: A Classic Walk through middle England:
Britain’s Cotswold Way Walk is one of the best loved walks in England. This walk takes you along the limestone ridge, the scarp of the Cotswold Edge.
The Way begins in Bath, passes villages and towns of Hawkesbury, Wooten-under-edge, Dursley, Randwick, Painswick, Cheltenham, Winchcombe and Stanton before arriving at the old sheep town of Chipping Campden.
Mark Richards wrote one of the original guidebooks ‘The Cotswold Way’, which is a useful illustrated booklet, with line-drawings, detailed maps and route directions.
The Cotswold route is 164 km long and for those contemplating this trail for their walking holiday in England, a certain amount of planning is required. Although the path is well marked, the English weather is unpredictable and needs to be catered for.
Some general information about the walk: Cotswold Way Route: Starting from historic Bath, the 164 km trail wends its way north-eastwards and ends at Chipping Campden, an old sheep town. Although the green rolling hills seem gentle, there are some stiffer sections to cross. Besides being popular with walkers, the Cotswold Way is also run once a year as the Cotswold Way Relay from Chipping Campden to Bath, usually in late June or early July. The winning team typically takes a collective time of about 12 hours.
Some Highlights: Bath Abbey, Bath’s Roman Spa, the Somerset Monument, the Tyndale Monument, Prinknash Abbey, Coopers Hill (where they chase a round of cheese down a steep hill), Sudeley Castle, Cleeve Hill, Hailes Abbey, and the Broadway Tower.
Walking Route Planner: The number of days required depends on how fit and how quickly or leisurely you want your walking holiday to be. Work out the average number of kilometres you are prepared to do in a day, taking into account the landscape and the town or village in which you will end your day. It’s also nice to plan on arriving a little earlier in a village if there are interesting attractions you may like to visit, such as in Painswick or Winchcombe. We did the walk in 11 days, however it’s also possible to do it in about 9 days.
Luggage transfer: This efficient service is readily available and can be organized through a number of tour operators on the ‘self-guided’ itineraries.
Your Cotswold Way Accommodation: This is usually in B&Bs or inns and should be booked in advance.
Food: Mostly good quality traditional English food is served up at B&Bs and village inns and there are wide choices in their menu. Cider and ale are common. Most B&B owners can cater for vegetarians or people with other food preferences if given sufficient notice.
When to go? The northern Spring or Autumn seasons are recommended as accommodation is easier to obtain and the tourist numbers are lower.
Walking Gear: Good walking boots and socks are critical. Your shoes should have been broken in. Also important is what rain gear to take. Make sure it’s made from a breathable material.
Our Take: There is a lot to see on this 164 km journey through England, so don’t forget to bring your camera. Be prepared for rain and the wonderful walking. The Way is usually walked from south to north. See you on the track.