The Cotswold Way

The malverns

Do you enjoy hiking, seeing the great outdoors and touring the countryside at your own pace?  If so, you may want to plan a hike along the Cotswold Way while you are visiting in the Cotswold Hills.  The Cotswold Way is a 164 km trail which runs along the escarpment of the Cotswold ridge, affording glorious views of the scenery and also passing along a number of historical landmarks and beautiful villages and churches.  The Cotswolds have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – from the Cotswold Way you will be able to see the panoramic green vistas of the Severn Vale and the lovely beech woods and sheep pastures which have given it this title.

The Walk has been well recognized for over three decades but it was only in 2007 that it was recognized as a National Trail.  This is a very special recognition that very few trails in England receive.  The trail takes most hikers an average of one week to walk.  Cyclists and horseback riders are also permitted on the Cotswold Walk.  The Walk reaches its highest point at Cleeve Common at 317m.

What are some of the historical and geographical landmarks you will see on your hike?  You will be able to see the River Severn, the Malvern Hills and the Forest of Dean.  Some of the architectural monuments you will see include the Dyrham House, Horton Court, Broadway Tower and Somerset Monument Tower.  Historical mill towns on your route include Painswick, Stroud & Dursley, Devils Chimney, Belas Knap Long Barrow, Hailes Abbey and Sudeley Castle.  The path begins in the historical market town Chipping Campden and ends at the World Heritage City of Bath.  Famous people who were associated with the locations you’ll be visiting include Laurie Lee, William Morris, William Tyndale, Katherine Parr and Jilly Cooper.  Some of the other towns on the trail include Wottonunder Edge, Dursley and Winchcombe.

The trail is a great way to spend a whole week, or if you prefer, just a day or an afternoon.  The trail is a scenic and tranquil way to really get into the experience of the English countryside.  You can stay overnight in the nearby towns during your hike, or if you prefer, you can camp outside.  The campsite availability along the Cotswold Walk is very limited though so be sure to make reservations in advance.  Farmers sometimes allow hikers to camp on their land, but if you are thinking of doing this you should of course remember to ask permission first.  Likewise if you’re going to stay in town, you should book your spot before you go, particularly with the smaller villages which tend to fill up fast.

What part of the trail should you walk on if you only have a few hours or a couple of days?  This is a matter of personal preference, but you can characterize the trail into three main segments.  The northern segment will lead you through the characteristic Cotswold villages and pastureland with Drystone walls.  The middle section is dominated by beech woods, steep valleys and open grasslands.  Small villages huddle amongst the hills.  The southernmost segment of the trail features rolling hillsides and small villages.

The Cotswold Way offers an immersive experience in the idyllic English countryside.  It is a relaxing yet vitalizing way to enjoy the fresh air for a week or a day and see some of the famous natural and historical highlights of the Cotswolds.  The trail offers some of the best views you’ll experience on your trip and allows you to conduct your own tour of the region.