Walks in The Cotswolds

Region in England, United Kingdom

One of the best ways to bask in the honey-hued thatched cottages and homes lining villages speckled across the undulating Cotswolds is via foot. Instead of thinking about tired limbs carrying you across the rolling hills, your eyes will be fixated on the magical scenery unfolding in front of you—whether you’re immersed in a natural setting or passing through a village harking to medieval times. Carved throughout the English countryside, you’ll find a plethora of paths leading you over hills to stunning views overlooking the countryside or into quirky villages adorned with charm. Walking in the Cotswolds is definitely a wanderer’s wonderland!

A popular route in the Cotswolds is the long-distance Cotswold Way, which stretches across 164km and takes you along the National Trail. This is a great way to immerse in the magical scenery glittering this historic area and its phenomenal villages, but you can always take on a section or two of the route to catch a glimpse of what it’s all about. However, outside of the National Trail, you’ll find a collection of incredible routes packed into the six counties that make up the Cotswolds.

The 10 Greatest Walks in The Cotswolds AONB

Experience surreal, historical scenery on some of the greatest walks in the Cotswolds! You’ll find a selection of walks that cater to all fitness levels and age groups, making this a fun place for anyone to explore the undulating countryside etched with fascinating imagery and ancient tales. Start your walking in the Cotswolds adventure by checking out some of the meanders listed below!

  1. Newark Park Loop

  2. Marvel at the green-cloaked scenery stretching across the Newark estate. This family-friendly loop curves through woodlands, meadows decorated with wildflowers while also unveiling exceptional Newark house and garden views!

  3. Cleeve Hill - Winchcombe Circular Walk

  4. Take on a steeper incline on the Cleeve Hill - Winchcombe Circular Walk! Stretching across 14.8km and boasting an elevation of 467m, this walk is one of the more challenging ones in the region, but the views from atop Cleeve Hill are incredible. Walk along a section of the Cotswold Way National Trail!

  5. Great Barrington Circular Walk

  6. Revel in the Gloucestershire countryside while you meander above the village of Great Barrington on the 8.2km Great Barrington Circular Walk. Look out for Skylarks, sheep, and cattle as you wander along this easy-to-follow trail!

  7. Chedworth Roman Villa Walk

  8. Intertwine history with adventure on the family-friendly Chedworth Roman Villa Walk! After leaving charming Chedworth village behind, the countryside will envelop you as you search for the ruins of a Roman villa. The National Trust operates this site!

  9. Westonbirt Arboretum Walk

  10. The Westonbirt Arboretum Walk takes you on a magical loop through a collection of various tree and plant species! Enjoy walking along the aerial walkway along the Silk Wood area of the park. Do note that dogs are allowed in only some sections of this park but not in the old Arboretum, so you’ll have to skip this section. However, they will enjoy the off-leash area on this walk.

  11. Painswick and Slad Loop

  12. Enjoy a blend of countryside and historic villages on the Painswick to Slad Loop. This 11.7km walk takes you along fields and streams, dipping you deep in the serenity of the lovely English countryside!

  13. Cotswold Way: Birdlip to Painswick

  14. Take on a section of the famous Cotswold Way on the one-way Birdlip to Painswick route! Meander through secluded woodland and revel in the relaxing views as you travel between two villages exploding with history. You’ll also pass by Cooper’s Hill, which is where the Cheese Rolling Festival takes place.

  15. Bourton on the Hill and Sezincote House Loop

  16. Bourton on the Hill and Sezincote House Loop begins from the charming Bourton on the Hill before immersing you in stunning quintessential Cotswolds scenery: pastures and history. En route, you’ll discover the Sezincote estate, harking back to 200 years ago!

  17. Castle Combe and Nettleton Mill Walk

  18. Explore one of the most idyllic villages in the Cotswolds: Castle Comb. Admire the ancient stories spanning this village and the pretty countryside on this family-friendly loop! You’ll also stop by Nettleton Mill, a historic location. Talk about a walk with the perfect blend of history and natural beauty!

  19. Cleeve Common Circular Walk

  20. Take your family on the 8.7km Cleeve Common Circular Walk and bask in the countryside scenery rolling across the land. However, your heart rate will pick up as you climb Cleeve Hill to the highest point in the Cotswolds! Spend a moment at the top to take in the pastoral views, which bleed into Wales (you can see this on a clear day!).

When Is The Best Time To Walk in the Cotswolds?

To avoid super wet weather, it’s best to walk in the Cotswolds between the end of March and the start of October.

Best Regions for Walking in the Cotswolds

To take advantage of some of the best walks stretching across the Cotswolds, kickstart your time in this historic area by staying in Winchcombe. Some even call this the walking capital of the Cotswolds! Plus, the village unravels like an unspoiled magical ancient painting.

Other Outdoor Activities in the Cotswolds

Other popular activities in the Cotswolds include cycling and horseback riding! Cyclists will enjoy the routes ranging from on-road to off-road, as well as ones that stretch across a variety of distances, making it fun to choose a path that tailors to your exercise mood of the day. Meanwhile, horseback riders will appreciate the long-distance Sabrina Way, as well as a few shorter rides carved into the area. Lastly, the 164km Cotswold Way is a long-distance walk worth adding to your bucket list!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the prettiest village in the Cotswolds?

While the Cotswolds AONB boasts a surplus of beautiful villages, Castle Combe ranks as the prettiest—and not just in the Cotswolds, but all of England.

What is the main town in the Cotswolds?

Most refer to Cirencester as the Capital of the Cotswolds! It’s a lively market town worth visiting, for sure.

What are some big attractions in the Cotswolds?

Some major attractions include Gloucester Cathedral, The Roman Baths, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Cotswold Distillery, Sudeley Castle, to name a few.

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Best Hikes in The Cotswolds

Open details for Rollright Stones Circular Walk

Rollright Stones Circular Walk

Easy
8.5 km
268 m
2-3h

The Rollright Stones Circular Walk is a great outdoor activity in the northeastern part of The Cotswolds AONB that will lead you through a lovely stretch of English countryside to visit an interesting historical site. The trail sets out from the charming village of Salford and traverses the open farmland and rolling hills to the northeast before arriving at the Rollright Stones, a series of Neolithic and Bronze Age limestone monuments. This is a fantastic day-walk for anyone that is interested in local history.

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Open details for Broadway Tower Walk

Broadway Tower Walk

Moderate
6.4 km
239 m
2-2.5h

The Broadway Tower Walk is a truly outstanding adventure that will take you uphill to visit a stone folly that was built for Lady Coventry at the tailend of the 1700s. The trail will see you climb uphill for the majority of its length, with the ultimate reward being a commanding sightline over England that encompasses 16 different counties on a clear day. Although it is a bit of a grind, the route is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring the picturesque terrain of The Cotswolds AONB.

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Open details for Newark Park Loop

Newark Park Loop

Easy
3.9 km
142 m
1-1.5h

The Newark Park Loop makes its way through the 700 acres of the Newark estate. This easy trail wanders through the woodlands of the Cotswolds escarpment and across endless meadows full of wildflowers. The trail also offers beautiful views of the Newark house and garden, which makes it the perfect way to extend your visit to the estate.

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Open details for Cleeve Hill – Winchcombe Circular Walk

Cleeve Hill – Winchcombe Circular Walk

Moderate
14.8 km
467 m
4-5.5h

Take a beautiful walk through the Cotswolds countryside on the Cleeve Hill – Winchcombe Circular trail. This scenic walk begins in the picturesque town of Winchcombe and takes you along the Cotswold Way National Trail into tranquil farmland. Follow the trail to discover an ancient burial monument and the panoramic views from the top of Cleeve Hill.

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Open details for Great Barrington Circular Walk

Great Barrington Circular Walk

Easy
8.2 km
365 m
2.5-3.5h

The Great Barrington Circular Walk explores the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside above the village of Great Barrington. The rolling hills and easy paths allow you to focus your full attention on the splendid views that surround you. You’re likely to see Skylarks and other birds, as well as sheep and cattle along your trail.

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Open details for Chedworth Roman Villa Walk

Chedworth Roman Villa Walk

Easy
3.7 km
144 m
1-1.5h

Chedworth is a charming quintessential Cotswold village, and it’s also the gateway to an even older settlement. The Chedworth Roman Villa Walk leaves the village behind, so you can enjoy walking through the lush countryside and woodlands in search of the remains of one of Britain’s largest Roman villas. Take a break from your walk to explore this incredible ancient site that is operated by the National Trust.

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Open details for Minster Lovell and Crawley Circular Walk

Minster Lovell and Crawley Circular Walk

Moderate
5.8 km
122 m
1.5-2h

Walking the Minster Lovell and Crawley Circular is a fun adventure in the southeast corner of The Cotswolds AONB that will produce some lovely views of the surrounding Oxfordshire countryside. The route travels between the villages of Minster Lovell and Crawley, taking you past charming stone cottages and picturesque farmlands before leading you on a riverside walk along the banks of the River Windrush. There are a few climbs and descents along the route, but overall it is a perfect walk for a nice weekend outing.

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Open details for Westonbirt Arboretum Walk

Westonbirt Arboretum Walk

Easy
7.8 km
97 m
1.5-2.5h

The Westonbirt National Arboretum features trails through a fantastic collection of over 2500 species of trees and plants. Take the circular Westonbirt Arboretum Walk to explore the perimeter trails and the old arboretum. This beautiful nature walk includes the new aerial walkway through the Silk Wood section of the park.

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Open details for Elmley Castle Walk

Elmley Castle Walk

Moderate
8.7 km
236 m
2-3h

The Elmley Castle Walk is a scenic adventure in The Cotswolds AONB that will lead you uphill for some beautiful views of the surrounding Worcestershire countryside. While out on the trail, you will make your way across some open countryside to visit the village of Great Comberton before climbing up the forested hillside to the southwest for some lovely views of rolling green hills and charming cottages. While parts of this walk are physically demanding, the excellent views are more than enough of a reward.

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Open details for Painswick to Slad Loop

Painswick to Slad Loop

Easy
11.7 km
414 m
3-4.5h

Explore the beautiful South Cotswolds on the Painswick to Slad Loop. This lovely walk shows off some of the most beautiful walking country and the charming historic villages of Painswick and Slad. You’ll enjoy the bucolic views from the tops of rolling hills, and the tranquility of walking along the fields and streams of the English countryside.

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