Cotswolds Walking Tours | Quaint Towns and Stunning Sights
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If you’ve never been to the Cotswolds before, you might consider adding it to your travel bucket list.
Known for its gorgeous natural landscapes and quaint towns, this charming part of the English countryside is a delightful place to spend any holiday.
The Cotswolds is also an incredible region to take a memorable English walking tour. It’s a great way to get some exercise and see brilliant English landmarks, all in one epic holiday.
A prized tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, there are many things to do in the Cotswolds, from antiquing, to walking tours, to visiting historical landmarks.
People from all over the world come to see its picture-perfect villages, rolling hills, and vast, lush meadows.
They also come from far and wide to take hiking and walking trails through the magnificent country scenery.
If you’re looking for a tranquil escape from the hubbub of everyday life, this destination may be just the place for you to reconnect with nature and wind down.
The towns are slow-paced, the atmosphere is calm, and you’ll always be surrounded by beautiful greenery in the Cotswolds.
If this sounds like your dream holiday, keep on reading. This post will cover everything you need to know about Cotswolds walking tours, different tour options, and recommendations on where to stay during your holiday.
About Cotswold Walking Tours
Few places in England are as quintessentially English as the Cotswolds. Its stone village houses and country pathways are a photographer’s and tourist’s delight. The area was even designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1996.
Boasting incredible landscapes, the Cotswolds is England’s premier hiking and walking destination and a prime tourist attraction.
One of the best ways to appreciate the Cotswolds’ many towns, villages, and landscapes, is on a walking tour.
There are countless tour options, each meandering through different towns and stopping at various landmarks along the way.
These aren’t your average city walks; instead, Cotswold walking tours can span several days and nights, depending on the route you take.
There are numerous famous routes you can take, each showing a different perspective of the gorgeous Cotswolds greenery.
You can book your own stay at nearby Airbnbs, hotels, rentals, or cottages. But most visitors book planned and guided tours through various providers to reduce all the hassle of making bookings and arrangements.
These tours have been operating for years and range from basic to the most luxurious of variations.
Cotswolds Walking Tours | Guided Options
Now that you have the context behind England’s famous walking tours in the Cotswolds, it’s time for the fun part: choosing a tour. Luckily, you’re spoilt for choice with the variety of options in the Cotswolds.
The guided tours below offer a range of different stops at landmarks and historical attractions throughout the area.
They also cover stretches of some of the Cotswolds’ most famous walking routes. More on that later.
Cotswolds tours fill up quickly due to the popularity of the area, so make sure you book your place in advance if you want to avoid disappointment.
Cotswold Way National Trail North Route (7 Days)
The Cotswold Way is a famous Cotswold walking route filled with picturesque scenery and impressive countryside landscapes.
On this week-long tour, you’ll follow the Cotswold Way along the North Route and receive a delightful complimentary breakfast each morning.
Your accommodation is also completely covered for each night of the tour, and luggage transfers between hotels will be taken care of for you. You will only have to pay for your lunches and dinners for the duration of the trip.
Day 1 of the tour will take you to the town of Stanton, a quintessential Cotswold village that exudes that good old country charm tourists love.
Follow your knowledgeable tour guide to the top of Dover’s Hill for amazing views over the Cotswold escarpment and the surrounding valleys.
Then, you’ll get to stroll across the fields to Broadway Tower and through the village of Broadway. There are plenty of lovely tea houses where you can stop for a cuppa while you’re in town.
This tour also explores the towns of Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Birdlip, and Painswick as you meander through the Cotswold greenery.
The walking distance per day is around 15 kilometres (3 miles), so you’ll see plenty of breathtaking views along the way.
BOOK HERE | COTSWOLD WAY NATIONAL TRAIL NORTH ROUTE
Cotswold Way National Trail South Route (7 Days)
You can also take the South Route along the Cotswold Way if you’d prefer to start your walking tour in Painswick.
This tour also covers your stay at quaint B&Bs and pretty Cotswolds hotels along the way, and your luggage transfers and breakfasts are paid for with the tour price.
The journey begins with a night in Painswick, one of the best towns in the Cotswolds. You’ll also spend a night in the town of Stonehouse, Wooton under Edge, Old Sudbury, Cold Ashton, and Bath.
You’ll pass through magical woodlands along the way, not to mention the steep valley hills that offer incredible panoramic views of the Cotswolds region.
BOOK HERE | COTSWOLD WAY NATIONAL TRAIL SOUTH ROUTE
Cotswolds: Full-Day Private Walking Tour with Local Guide
Why not try this full-day private walking tour if you don’t have time to take a whole week away in the Cotswolds? You’ll get to see some of the Cotswolds’ prettiest villages in just five hours with a local professional guide by your side.
One of the great things about this tour is that it’s entirely customisable depending on your fitness level or preference. Don’t worry; you won’t miss any of the highlights on the short route.
Both the 9-mile (14-kilometre) route and the 15-mile (24-kilometre) route cover the same attractions.
Try to book this tour between May and September during berry picking season. During this time, you’ll get to pluck fresh fruit while you meander through the Cotswolds fields and meadows.
You’ll also get to enjoy a delightful spot of tea and cake in Burford after your walking tour.
BOOK HERE | COTSWOLDS: FULL-DAY PRIVATE WALKING TOUR WITH LOCAL GUIDE
10-night / 9-day Luxury Tour
This luxurious 10-night tour takes Cotswolds walks to a whole new level. From Oxford to Bath, you’ll get to see 53 miles (85 kilometres) of the splendid Cotswold countryside with an abundance of highlights along the way.
Home to world-class museums and the prestigious Oxford University, Oxford is a must-see town in the Cotswolds and your resting place for the first two nights of the tour.
You’ll receive the distinct pleasure of spending two nights at The Old Parsonage Hotel, a five-star establishment that treats its guests like royalty.
Once you’ve explored Oxford, you’ll be off to Hidcote, Broadway, Winchcombe, Upper Slaughter, and Lower Slaughter.
Of course, you’ll stay in the best of the best hotels en route and even get to spend two nights in Bibury on Day Seven. From there, the tour continues to Cirencester and Bath, where you’ll spend your final two nights.
Your guide will take you on an unforgettable skyline walk around the hills of Bath. You’ll also see the small towns of Lacock and Castle Combe on your last day in the Cotswolds when you’ll get a free day to explore on your own.
There are loads of things to do in Castle Combe, so you’ll have plenty to do and see to make your last day in town spectacular.
BOOK HERE | 10-NIGHT / 9-DAY LUXURY TOUR
5-night / 4-day Luxury Tour
If you’re looking for a shorter Cotswold walking tour, this tailor-made luxury excursion may be the one for you. It spans four nights and five days and covers around 49 kilometres (40 miles) of lush Cotswold terrain.
You’ll get all your steps in on this tour, walking at least a few kilometres per day. After you’ve finished your itinerary for the day, you’ll get a bus transfer back to Chipping Campden, where you’ll spend each night in a beautiful hotel.
Day one of the excursion begins with a journey on foot to Hidcote in the morning, taking you about 7 kilometres (11 miles) through the Cotswold countryside.
You’ll then get to explore the immaculate Kifsgate Court Garden, a 100-year old garden famous for its array of rare plants, before heading back to your hotel for the night.
On Day 3, you’ll take a pleasant walk to Moreton-in-Marsh and make a stop at Bourton House garden along the way.
The garden boasts three acres of breathtaking exotic plants and hedge mazes. Waltzing about amongst the fountains and greenery is an utter delight.
Day 4 involves a circular walk in Naunton as you explore Upper and Lower Slaughter.
This walk is a relatively long one, but don’t worry; the pub grub afterwards will be well worth it. Finally, you’ll embark on a 9-kilometre (6-mile) circular walk in Bibury for your final walk of the tour.
BOOK HERE | 5-NIGHT / 4-DAY LUXURY TOUR
More Cotswolds Walking Tours | Self-Guided Options
Keep reading to learn more about the most famous Cotswold hiking and walking trails to choose your ideal Cotswold walk for your next holiday.
You can plan a magnificent self-guided walking tour using any of the picturesque routes outlined below.
The Cotswold Way
One of the most popular walking routes in the Cotswolds, the Cotswold Way begins in the town of Chipping Camden and ends in the historic city of Bath.
The long-distance walking trail stretches 164km (102 miles), and hiking the route will take at least 7-10 days to complete.
Of course, you can take your time in the B&Bs, antique stores, and old English pubs along the way. You’ll need to be reasonably fit to broach the steep countryside hills, but the route is also appropriate for moderately skilled hikers.
Cotswold Way is a National Trail in England, so the route is well-marked with plenty of signage along the way.
At the end of your journey, you’ll be able to spend a delightful weekend in Bath, the only UK city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Diamond Way
Another famous walking trail in the Cotswolds, Diamond Way was created in 1995 by the Ramblers’ North Cotswold Group in celebration of its 60th Jubilee. The trail is roughly diamond-shaped, spanning 106km (66 miles) of footpaths that meander through exquisite countryside landscapes.
On this route, you’ll get to explore rural Gloucestershire’s idyllic woodlands and cross several pretty streams. With overnight stops along the way, the loop should take you a week to complete.
The route starts off in Northleach, travels through Chipping Campden, then ends in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Most tour guides will make stops at Moreton-in-Marsh, Ebrington, Blockley, and Ford along the way.
Your accommodations will depend on what tour company you choose, but some popular choices include The Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh and The Ebrington Arms in Ebrington.
The Winchcombe Way
The Winchcombe Way is one of the most beautiful stretches in the Cotswolds, stretching 68 kilometres (42 miles) on a trail shaped like a figure of eight. If you’re interested in the lesser-known, hidden treasure of the Cotswolds, this trail is for you.
It explores small and quiet villages in the northern Cotswolds that you’ve probably never heard of.
There are two loops you can take on Winchcombe Way: the eastern loop and the western loop. The eastern loop begins in Winchcombe and meanders through the Farmcote valley, a breathtaking expanse replete with hills and picture-perfect vistas.
The route then loops through Cutsdean, Taddington and Snowshill before reaching the Cotswold escarpment, also known as the Cotswold Edge.
The escarpment is essentially a steep grassland area that offers spectacular sweeping views of the Severn Vale. The trail continues past Buckland, Laverton, and Stanton and loops back towards Winchcombe.
If you’d prefer, you can take the western loop up Langley Hill, one of the most scenic spots in the Cotswolds.
The trail then descends the hill into Gretton and Alderton and heads towards the town of Alstone. From there, you’ll hike up Notting Hill until you get to the Cleeve Common, an outstanding nature reserve full of rare plants.
Once you’ve taken a peek at the botanic wonders, you’ll follow the trail to the Belas Knap Long Barrow, a historical landmark on Cleeve Hill. Then it’s back to Winchcombe to complete the loop.
If you’re looking for a home away from home in Winchcombe, try The White Hart Inn for cosy accommodations.
The Gloucestershire Way
The Gloucestershire Way is a great way to see as much of the Cotswolds as possible, and get in a considerable amount of exercise. The long-distance trail is a whopping 160 kilometres (100 miles) long and will take several days to complete.
The route will take you through the lush Forest of Dean, an ancient forest home to a variety of wildlife and a fascinating sculpture trail.
Once you’ve crossed the forest, the route will take you through Severn Plain and onto the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail. From there, you’ll travel through Crickley and Salperton before ending your journey in the small town of Tewksbury.
Tewksbury is an ancient town at the confluence of the River Avon and the River Severn. It’s also one of the few Cotswold villages home to buildings made of timber rather than stone.
There are gorgeous places to stroll along the river banks once you get there, as well as an abundance of cafes and tea rooms you can explore.
Book a room at the Hilton Puckrup Hall in Tewksbury. It boasts glorious Cotswolds views, elegant suites, and its own 18-hole golf course. This four-star hotel is a great place to enjoy some luxurious treatment after a long and arduous walking tour in the Cotswolds hills.
The Thames Path
You may have heard of the Thames Path, a National Trail that meanders alongside England’s most famous river. The hiking trail is 294 kilometres (184 miles) long and is suitable for both avid and novice hikers.
If you’re dying to go on a Cotswolds walk, but you’re a tad unfit, the Thames Path would be a great place to start for you.
The trail is long, but it’s mostly flat, and the natural slopes along the way aren’t particularly steep or too challenging.
Completing this route can take you as long as two weeks, depending on your pace, fitness level, and the number of stops you decide to make along the way.
Rather uniquely for a Cotswold walk, this trail offers a combination of countryside landscapes and urban jungle. It begins in a Cotswold village, winds through the country hills and valleys, and travels east through the busy streets of London. Of course, there are numerous stops in the Cotswolds’ rural villages before you reach the bustling streets of London.
The Thames Path begins in a remote meadow of the Cotwolds in the town of Kemble, Gloucestershire. It will take you past many old stone houses, quaint villages, and lush valleys towards the town of Cricklade in Wiltshire.
Cricklade dates back to the Saxon times and exudes the historical charm the Cotswolds is known for. This would be an ideal spot to take some travel photos or pick up a postcard in one of the town stores.
From Cricklade, the path will lead you to Lechlade, over to Newbridge, and past a remote stretch of the Thames towards Oxford.
You’ll also be able to make stops at Wallingford, Tilehurst, and Marlow as you follow the river waters across the region.
The Wysis Way
The Wysis Way is one of the shorter hiking trails available in the Cotswolds. It’s about 89 kilometres (55 miles) long and crosses over two other long-distance Cotswold walking trails: Cotswolds Way and the Thames Path.
You could complete this route in about five days to a week, depending on the stops you make en route and your fitness level.
The Wysis Way trail starts at the Wye Bridge in Monmouth, Wales, then crosses through the Forest Dean and the Severn Vale in the Cotswolds region.
You’ll see three of England’s greatest rivers along the way, including the Thames River, the River Severn, and the River Frome. There’s nothing quite like sitting by the water as you soak in the fresh air on a good morning walk.
Once you’ve gone through the pretty trees of Forest Dean, the trail will take you eastwards through the towns of Glasshouse, Taynton, and Tibberton before you reach Gloucester.
From there, you’ll head up Robinswood Hill and down through Painswick, Bisley, and Oakridge Lynch.
The Wysis Way trail then runs along the River Frome as you approach the town of Sapperton in Gloucestershire.
Finally, the route ends in the town of Kemble, Gloucestershire, where it links up with the Thames Path.
If you’re looking for accommodations along the Wysis Way, you can book a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Gloucester.
They have cosy, elegant rooms where you can rest after a long day out walking. Another popular option is the Mercure Gloucester Bowden Hall Hotel, which boasts stunning suites and large, lush grounds you’ll adore.
Enjoy the Famous Cotswold Walks
As you’ve probably gathered from this post, there are countless variations of Cotswolds walks you can choose from for your holiday walking tour.
You can take the routes described above to design your own self-guided walking tour, or you can book a spot with a tour company that will handle all the arrangements on your behalf.
No matter what route you choose or how you choose to embark on this remarkable journey, walking the Cotswolds is an unforgettable way to see the English countryside.
From foreign tourists to Londoners craving country air, the Cotswolds is a beautiful area that appeals to many different people.
Hopefully, you get to see as much of the Cotswolds as possible and visit all of its quint towns and villages.
If you’re still at a loss as to how to play your holiday, you can get some inspiration from this one-day Cotswolds Itinerary. Enjoy your Cotswolds walking adventure!