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Pauline

Cotswolds My Favorite Walks in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is one of the best areas in England for walking and hiking. The public footpaths are plentiful, well signed and well maintained. They range from short, easy walks to longer, vigorous hikes.

Note that in most cases Brits don’t use the term hikes or hiking but instead use walks and walking, or rambling.

There are many resources for finding walking routes, but these guidebooks are my favorite and are dependable. The hikes are described in good detail, the maps are good, and they pick hikes that are particularly beautiful and have good points of interest along the way.
  • Goldeneye - Cotswold Classic Walks: These are my favorite walks in the Cotswolds. This book has 25 circular walks with excellent maps and hike descriptions, plus information about the area. Most hikes are two to three hours long, some have shorter versions.
  • Pathfinder - The Cotswolds - Short Walks: 20 walks ranging from one to three hours (most are two hours long) covering all the main areas of the Cotswolds. Good descriptions and detailed maps, plus interesting notes about the area.
  • Pathfinder - The Cotswolds - Walks, More Cotswolds - Walks: These two Pathfinder Guides for the Cotswolds give very good coverage for the area, with easy, medium and harder hikes. They are light and easy to tuck into your backpack. The maps and hike descriptions are excellent.
In addition, go to the tourist office in each market town and get their local walking information. Most of them will have descriptions of circular walks in their area. I will publish on another page a more complete list of resources for walking in the Cotswolds.

Below I have listed my favorite walks in each part of the Cotswolds (with a few notes about walks that I did not like). All these walks are in the Pathfinder or Goldeneye walking guidebooks.

North Cotswolds

Broadway

Broadway and Broadway Tower (Pathfinder - 2hrs): Lovely walk from Broadway to the Old Church to Broadway Tower then back to Broadway. Goldeneye has a longer version of this walk ("Broadway" - 3hrs).

Stanton - Stanway (Goldeneye - 3hrs): Beautiful hike from Stanton, up the hill to some ancient remains (Shenberrow), then back down through woods to Stanway. Return to Stanton along the valley. This is one of my favorite hikes.

Stanton, Stanway and Snowshill (Pathfinder - 5.5hrs): This is a longer version of the Stanton – Stanway walk that takes you to Snowshill.

Burford

Burford, Fulbrook and Widford (Pathfinder - 2.5hrs): Wonderful hike up across farmers' fields from Burford, through woods and fields to Widford on the River Windrush. You can do a detour to walk over to Swinbrook to visit the church and see the Mitford sisters’ graves, then have lunch in The Swan Inn. Nice walk back along the river. This is the best place to walk along the River Windrush. (The first part of the hike where you walk up through a farm field can be very muddy if it has been raining. Skip that part and walk along the lane.) Same hike is in Goldeneye - Burford / Widford / Windrush Valley.

Lost Village of Widford from Burford (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): This goes the reverse direction from the Pathfinder walk above, starting out along the River Windrush from Burford, going up Dean Bottom, then back along a lane to Fulbrook instead of through woods and farmer fields.

Minster Lovell and the River Windrush (Pathfinder - 2hrs): Nice hike from Minster Lovell, by the remains of Minster Lovell Hall, along the river to Crawley, then back over the fields. The only odd thing was the factories above the valley near Crawley belching out some smoke, but they were off in the distance. If you are only doing one hike in this area, do the Burford hike above - it was better. Same hike is in Goldeneye - Minster Lovell - Windrush Valley.

Sherborne Park (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): Trails on the Sherborne Estate, National Trust. Easy short walks around the estate. Don't walk from here to the Water Meadows because the trail goes through very muddy cow fields. Instead drive up to the Water Meadows parking and walk from there.

Chipping Norton

The Rollright Stones (Pathfinder - 4.5hrs): I love the Rollright Stones but I did not like this walk. Too much walking on lanes (one of our group was almost hit by a car whizzing by). Drive to the Rollright Stones but do your walk somewhere else.

Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden and Dover's Hill (Pathfinder - 2.5hrs): From Chipping Campden up to Dovers Hill is nice but too much of the rest of this walk is along roads. Same hike is in Goldeneye - Chipping Campden/Dover's Hill.

Chipping Campden and Broad Campden (Pathfinder - 2hrs): An easy walk through farm fields to the pretty village of Broad Campden.

Batsford from Blockley (Jarrold Short Walks - 2.5hrs): South from Blockley to the village of Batsford. We loved this hike.

Blockley and Norcombe Wood (Pathfinder - 2.5hrs): West of Blockley and through the Norcombe Wood. We have not done this hike, but this is a lovely area.

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold, Broadwell and Donnington (Pathfinder - More Cotswolds - 3hrs): Lovely walk around Stow, with some parts on roads.

Chastleton from Adlestrop (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): Adlestrop is a beautiful village and this area is good for hiking, with many trails. The hike starts out across fields with views towards Stow sitting high on the wold. Chastleton has one of England's finest Jacobean houses. Pathfinder has two longer versions of this hike: in Cotswolds - (Adlestrop, Cornwell and Oddington - 4hrs) and in More Cotswolds (Adlestrop, Evenlode and Chastleton - 3hrs). We did the More Cotswolds version and the lane from near Chastleton to Evenload was very muddy (after heavy rains), so next time I would do the Jarrold Short Walks version of this walk.

Lower Slaughter - Upper Slaughter - Lower Harford (Goldeneye - 4hrs): Nice enough hike, but boring in parts and too much time walking along roads.

The Slaughters from Bourton-on-the-Water (Jarrold Short Walks - 2 or 2.5hrs): The hike goes along three long distance paths - Windrush Way, Macmillan Way and Wardens' Way. Some road walking and you have to cross the A429.

Bourton-on-the-Water, the Slaughters and Naunton (Pathfinder - 5hrs): We did most of this hike, starting from Naunton, where we were staying, and doing it in the opposite direction. You can make it shorter by cutting across on the Macmillan Way at Lower Slaughter (avoiding Bourton-on-the-Water). The hike goes along two long distance paths - Windrush Way and Wardens' Way.

Longborough, Sezincote and Bourton-on-the-Hill (Pathfinder - 2.5hrs): Very nice walk by an Indian mansion from the early 1800s. There is a shorter version from Bourton-on-the-Hill in Jarrold Short Walks (2hrs).

Winchcombe

Winchcombe and Hailes Abbey (Jarrold Short Walks - 3hrs): Walk along the Cotswold Way from Winchcombe to Hailes Abbey (medieval ruins and a good tea room nearby), then up into the hills and back on the Gloucestershire Way.

Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey and Sudeley Castle (Pathfinder - 4.5hrs): This is a longer version of the walk above coming back to Winchcombe via Sudeley Castle. We did this hike several times when we stayed in Winchcombe. Goldeneye has a shorter version (skips Hailes Abbey) - Winchcombe - Little Farmcote - Sudeley - 4hrs.

Cleave Hill (Jarrold Short Walks - 2.5hrs): Cleeve Common is the highest wold in the Cotswolds at 1083 feet. As on Minchinhampton Common, there is a golf course here. Beautiful views and part of the trail is on the Cotswold Way. Pathfinder - Cotswolds has a longer version (Cleave Common - 4hrs) where you walk to Belas Knap, a Neolithic long barrow.

Guiting Wood (Jarrold Short Walks - 3.5hrs or less): Two short circular walks from the same point, one around Guiting Wood, the other from Guiting Wood to the village of Guiting Power or do both as a figure "8" walk. There are pubs in Guiting Power.

The Guitings and Guiting Wood (Pathfinder - 3hrs): A good walk around Guiting Wood, also visiting the villages of Temple Guiting, Kineton and Guiting Power. Goldeneye has a shorter version, Guiting Wood - 1.5hrs.

South Cotswolds

Cirencester

Cirencester Town and Park (Jarrold Short Walks - 1.5hrs): Good walk through the historic town center, into Cirencester Park and back via the Broad Ride - a magnificent wide walking road lined with huge tree, with views towards the town.

Bibury and Coln St Aldwyns (Jarrold Short Walks - 3hrs): Beautiful hike along the River Coln valley from Bibury to Coln St Aldwyns and back, with some parts up in the hills. Our first time on this trail we managed to get lost because the river had flooded and covered the trail. Pubs in both villages. Pathfinder has a different version going out along the hill tops and back along the river - Bibury and the River Coln - 3hrs. Same hike is in Goldeneye - Bibury - Coln St Aldwyns.

Chedworth (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): There are many trails in this area and each hiking guide has a walk here, but this one is the is the best. Good pub in Chedworth, The Seven Tuns. The Roman Villa is very interesting. Pathfinder has a 5hr version (Chedworth and Withington). Goldeneye has a 3.5hrs/1.5hrs version (Chedworth/Chedworth Woods).

Sapperton - Golden Valley (Goldeneye - 2.5hrs): This is my favorite hike in the area. The walk takes you from the beautiful village of Sapperton to the start of the Thames & Severn canal tunnel (the tunnel ends at Coates), along the canal, then up into the woods of the Bathurst Estate and back to Sapperton. Full of Ramsons (garlic flowers) in the spring. Pubs in Sapperton, Daneway, Frampton Mansell. Pathfinder has a longer version of this hike - Sapperton and Daneway - 3hrs.

Lechlade

Purchase the "Fairford and Lechlade Walks" guide at the Post Office or Newsagent. The Thames Path National Trail passes through Lechlade.

Town Walk - River Thames: There is a public footpath from the church to St John's Lock, return via the Thames path to Halfpenny Bridge for a short walk, or continue east on the Thames path for a longer walk.

Town Walk - River Leach: From the north end of town, across from the Little Faringdon Mill & Trout Farm, a public footpath follows the River Leach to Southrop.

Eastleach-Leach Valley (Goldeneye - 2.5hrs): Wonderful hike from two side by side villages - Eastleach Turville and Eastleach Martin - through an organic farm (Hatherop Estate), along the remains of a Roman Road (Akeman Street) and back to the villages. Good pub in Eastleach Turville. Jarrold Short Walks (Eastleach Turville and Eastleach Martin) has a shorter version of this walk (2 hrs).

Minchinhampton

Minchinhampton Common (Jarrold Short Walks - 2.5hrs): A flat, easy walk on these beautiful wide open commons, with good views to the valleys below. Part of the walk is along the ancient Bulwarks. Pubs in Amberley along the walk, and in Minchinhampton. Pathfinder has a similar version (Minchinhampton Common - 2hrs).

Nailsworth

Stroud Pedestrian/Cycle Trail: This trail was built over old train tracks that ran through this area. The path is paved and is used for walking and bikes. It starts behind the Egypt Mill in Nailsworth and goes into Stroud (or branch off for Stonehouse and Eastington). It runs parallel to the A46, but the part from Nailsworth to South Woodchester is far enough away from the road that you don't hear it. North from South Woodchester the trail is right beside the road, but only for a half a mile, then it separates again. It is about 5 miles to Stroud and you can take a bus back, but they do not run frequently. Instead park in either Nailsworth or Stroud and walk out and back.

Nailsworth to Minch: Another lovely walk we found when staying here. Park in Nailsworth. Take the Stroud Pedestrian/Cycle Trail north to Dunkirk Mills. Take the marked footpath up the hill towards Amberley. There are a few different ways to go, but all bring you up to the Minchinhampton Commons. Walk across the commons to Minchinhampton. Return via lanes to Box and then to Nailsworth. About 2 hrs. You need your Ordnance Survey map for this hike.

Woodchester Park (Jarrold Short Walks - 3hrs): We did this walk many times, walking from our cottage on the northern edge of Nailsworth. This hike has you park at the other end, near the mansion, then walk through the woods, along the ponds. A lovely hike in an almost secret valley.

Stroud and the Five Valleys

Stroud Pedestrian/Cycle Trail: This trail was built over old train tracks that ran through this area. The path is paved and is used for walking and bikes. It starts behind the Egypt Mill in Nailsworth and goes into Stroud (or branch off for Stonehouse and Eastington). It is about 5 miles to Nailsworth and you can take a bus back, but they do not run frequently. Instead park in either Nailsworth or Stroud and walk out and back.

Cotswold Canal: The canal runs through Stroud. From the multi-level car park by the Waitrose, cross the A419 to the canal and the river. Follow the trail east towards Sapperton.

Cranham - Sheepscombe (Goldeneye - 3hrs): Wonderful walk in the area north of Painswick. From Cranham, up to a hilltop and around the edge through woods, down to Sheepscombe (good pub, church), then back up and around the other side of the hill. Beautiful woods, good views.

Cooper's Hill and Buckholt Wood (Pathfinder - 3hrs): Another hike from Cranham. We have not done this one, but it looks like a good hike. Part is on the Cotswold Way.

Laurie Lee Country (Pathfinder - 4.5hrs or 3hrs): This hike takes you out the Slad and Dillay valleys. This is gorgeous countryside. You can easily make this into a shorter hike. Pub in Slad. Same hike is in Goldeneye - Slad and Dillay Valleys.

Misarden Park/Edgeworth (Goldeneye - 1.5hrs): We did the short Misarden Park walk. Easy walk, beautiful village (with pub), beautiful views. Jarrold Short Walks (Misarden Park) has a different version of this walk (1 or 2 hrs).

Haresfield Beacon (Jarrold Short Walks - 2.5hrs): Beautiful views from the Haresfield Beacon, north of Painswick. Pathfinder has a longer version which includes the Standish Wood (Haresfield Beacon and Standish Wood - 3.5hrs).

Tetbury

Castle Combe (Pathfinder - 2hrs): Nice walk from the charming village of Castle Combe through woods and farmland. Goldeneye has a different version - Castle Combe, 2.5hrs and a shorter 1hr version.

Wotton-under-Edge

Ozleworth (Goldeneye - 2.5hrs with a shorter version around Ozleworth Park): I think this would be a beautiful hike, but we lost the trail an hour into the hike (at the end of Ozleworth Bottom) and had to turn around. Ozleworth Bottom is a beautiful valley full of spring flowers.

Wotton-under-Edge, the Tyndale Monument and Coombe Hill (Pathfinder - 3.5hrs): Walk out through forests, but back along a road (books says this is a small lane, not used much). We have not done this hike.

Uley Bury - Cam Long Down (Goldeneye 2.5hrs): Wonderful hike starting outside of Uley at the Uley Bury Iron Age Fort (you cannot get inside). Start on a hilltop, then hike down into the valley, across the valley, up another hill, then along the Cam Long Down (hilltop). You may see paragliders jumping from here. Down to the valley and walking through farms, then back up to Uley Bury. Delightful! For a shorter walk with less downhill/uphill, walk around Uley Bury.

Posting this resource now and photos will be added later.
About the Author
Pauline Kenny lived and walked in the Cotswolds for five years but now lives on the Dorset Coast.
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