Walks in The Cotswolds
Cotswolds walks are one of the best ways to bask in the honey-hued thatched cottages and charming villages that are scattered across the undulating terrain of this region. 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. Cotswolds walks are definitely the key to this 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 will find a collection of incredible Cotswolds walks with routes packed into the six counties that make up the region.
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 adventure by checking out some of the incredible Cotswolds walks listed below!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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, the best time to walk in the Cotswolds is between the end of March and the start of October. During this period many Cotswolds walks will have dry trail conditions, making the summer months the ideal time to head out on an adventure.
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
Outside of Cotswold walks, 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.
Find more walking regions
- Lake District Walks
- Peak District Walks
- South Downs Walks
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Walks
- Chiltern Hills Walks
- Snowdonia Walks
Or use this link to find all walking regions in the UK.
Best Hikes in The Cotswolds
Rollright Stones Circular Walk
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.
Broadway Tower Walk
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.
Newark Park Loop
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.
Cleeve Hill – Winchcombe Circular Walk
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.
Great Barrington Circular Walk
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.
Chedworth Roman Villa Walk
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.
Minster Lovell and Crawley Circular Walk
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.
Westonbirt Arboretum Walk
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.
Elmley Castle Walk
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.
Painswick to Slad Loop
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.
Cotswold Way: Birdlip to Painswick
The Cotswold Way: Birdlip to Painswick walk is a pleasant section of the famed walk through the beautiful Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You’ll discover a quiet woodlands walk between two historic villages. This walk also features a climb up Cooper’s Hill—home to the annual Cheese Rolling festival.
Belas Knap Long Barrow Walk
Walking the Belas Knap Long Barrow Trail is a fantastic adventure in The Cotswolds AONB that will take you uphill along the Cotswold Way to visit a Neolithic burial monument dating back thousands of years. While out on the trail, you will make your way along the footpath to visit the barrow before heading west to trek through a serene forest setting on the return leg of the walk. This is a spectacular outing for those with interests in history and the outdoors.
Seven Springs and Leckhampton Hill Circular Walk
Walking the Seven Springs and Leckhampton Hill Circular is a fantastic outdoor experience in the Cotswolds AONB that will take you from the village of Seven Springs through a picturesque stretch of English countryside. While out on the trail, you will traverse charming grassland hills, visit unique historical sites, and make your way through the peaceful woodlands that can be found along the Cotswold Way. The stunning scenery along this walk and the good variety of terrain make it perfect for a fun family adventure on the weekend.
Painswick Beacon Circular Walk
Walking the Painswick Beacon Circular is a great adventure in The Cotswolds AONB that features some beautiful scenery and pleasant terrain, making it perfectly suitable for a fun family excursion. The trail sets out from the Falcon Inn in Painswick and leads you through a variety of terrain such as open farmland, rolling hills, and lovely forests before arriving at the stunning viewpoint atop the beacon. Once there, you will enjoy a panoramic sightline that sweeps across the rolling hills and picturesque countryside that make this area such a popular walking destination.
Shenington and Tysoe Circular Walk
The Shenington and Tysoe Circular Walk is an awesome adventure in The Cotswolds AONB that will take you through charming villages and beautiful stretches of pasture. The route travels between the two villages and exposes you to views of scenic rolling green hills, as you work through a variety of terrain that features a short but steep uphill climb. This walk is perfectly suited for a leisurely weekend stroll through the Oxfordshire and Warwickshire countryside.
The Freeland Stroll is a relatively quick and easy adventure just outside the borders of the Cotswolds AONB that will lead you through several charming villages for views of the surrounding countryside. Easy to navigate and fairly flat walkways make this a suitable adventure for outdoor enthusiasts of nearly every skill level. Keep an eye out for the beautiful churches that can be seen poking above the village buildings throughout the route.
Fladbury River Circular Walk
The Fladbury River Circular Walk is a wonderfully scenic adventure in Worcestershire just on the outskirts of The Cotswolds AONB that will lead you along the banks of the River Avon for some stunning views. While out on the trail, you will meander the banks of the river and walk through picturesque swathes of farmland before taking a stroll through the village of Fladbury to view its charming cottages and historic mills. This is a fabulous walk that can and should be enjoyed by any and all walkers.
The Stonesfield Stroll is a fantastic outdoor experience that will take you through the Oxfordshire countryside for some beautiful views of the surrounding Cotswolds terrain. The trail sets out from the charming village of Stonesfield next to the Church of Saint James the Great and passes by two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as you work your way through the picturesque terrain that can be found in the region. The walk largely follows along field pathways and country roads, with only one notable steep section near the start/end point of the route.
Castle Combe and Nettleton Mill Walk
The Castle Combe and Nettleton Mill Walk in the Cotswolds, UK, is a circular path that explores one of the prettiest villages in England: Castle Combe. This family-friendly walk is a picturesque journey back in time through the ancient village into the AONB countryside. This trail follows the golf course and will lead you into pretty woodlands, past idyllic cottages, and the historic location of the Nettleton Mill.
Bourton on the Hill and Sezincote House Loop
The Bourton on the Hill and Sezincote House Loop is a lovely family-friendly walk that starts in the beautiful hillside village of Bourton on the Hill. Enjoy the views of the sprawling Cotswolds pastures as you walk through the countryside. Along your way, you’ll come across amazing views of the spectacular 200-year-old Sezincote estate that was styled to look like an Indian Palace!
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