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
Cleeve Common Circular Walk
The Cleeve Common Circular walk explores the beautiful rolling countryside of the Cleeve Common. You’ll also be climbing Cleeve Hill, which is the highest point of the Cotswolds range. From the top, you’ll have stunning views of the pastoral Cotswolds that can stretch all the way to Wales on a clear day.
Chipping Norton and Glyme Valley Walk
The Cotswolds town of Chipping Norton has been a bustling market town since the 13th century. Start the Chipping Norton and Glyme Valley walk from its historic centre and follow the path that has been used for centuries to connect the local farms to the village. You’ll love this walk through the quintessential Cotswolds countryside as you explore the valleys and farmlands of Oxfordshire.
Blenheim Palace and Queen Pool Circular Walk
Whether you are touring the Blenheim Palace and gardens, or you just want to take the public path, this is a beautiful walk that offers stunning views of this spectacular estate. The Blenheim Palace and Queen Pool Circular begins at the Palace itself, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and follows the serene Queen Pool. You’ll enjoy walking through the tranquil manicured gardens and watching the ducks and swans swimming in the ponds.
Malmesbury River Walk
The Malmesbury River Walk is a 3.9 km circular walk that begins in the centre of Malmesbury and follows the River Avon through the countryside. This walk combines fascinating historical sites in this charming Cotswolds town with picturesque paths along the riverside. This trail will lead you by the Old Courthouse, St. Helen’s Church, and many other landmarks that highlight the ancient history of the town.
Bradford on Avon and Avoncliff Walk
The Bradford on Avon and Avoncliff Walk is a scenic trail through the incredible Cotswolds countryside. You’ll follow the River Avon on its peaceful journey to the historic Avoncliff Aqueduct. The beautiful woodlands and fields on the return path along the Kennet and Avon Canal make this a popular walk for families and dog walkers.
Ashton Keynes to Thames Head Walk
The Ashton Keynes to Thames Head Walk is the first section of the long-distance trail that follows the Thames River from its source to London. Start your walk from the ancient Cotswolds village of Ashton Keynes and follow Britains’ most famous river into the countryside.
Box, Ditteridge and Colerne Circular Walk
The Box, Ditteridge, and Colerne Circular Walk is an easy trail through the countryside. You’ll pass through three charming Cotswolds villages as you explore tranquil pastures and meadows. The rolling hills offer beautiful pastoral views, and a few short, steep sections to keep you on your toes.
Elmley Castle and Bredon Hill Walk
The Elmley Castle and Bredon Hill Walk is a wonderfully scenic hike that will expose you to beautiful views of The Cotswolds AONB from a protected hilltop site. The trail will take you uphill from the village to visit Bredon Hill, an important conservation area that is home to several unique habitats and wildlife species. Also located atop the hill are an 18th Century tower and the remains of an ancient hillfort that was excavated in the 1930s. While there are some steep sections of terrain along the route, this is a fantastic walk for a fun, informative, and beautiful day on the trails with family and friends.
Minchinhampton Common Walk
The Minchinhampton Common Walk leaves the Cotswolds village of Amberley and completes a lovely circuit around the open grasslands of the Minchinhampton Common and golf course. The route is flat and often offers wide views of Gloucestershire countryside. Enjoy some refreshment at the Amberley Inn after your afternoon walk.
Walking the Stroud Trail is a fun experience that will expose you to some of the beautiful landscapes that can be found within The Cotswolds AONB. While out on the trail, you will make your way through the charming villages, peaceful forests, and picturesque farmland pastures that surround the elevated position of the Selsley Common. This is a fantastic adventure to save for a weekend of great weather.
Slad Valley Circular Walk
Walking the Slad Valley Circular is a fascinating outing in The Cotswolds AONB that features some challenging terrain and provides beautiful views of the surrounding hills. While out on the trail, you will make your way through undulating woodland terrain while crossing over winding brooks and traversing beautiful stretches of open pasture. Parts of the trail are a bit difficult, but this is still a fantastic day-walk that the entire family can enjoy.
Cleeve Common and Belas Knap Walk
Walking the Cleeve Common and Belas Knap Trail is a fun, but slightly challenging experience that will expose you to some of the beautiful and amazing highlights that can be found within The Cotswolds AONB. While out on the trail, you will circle around Cleeve Hill and traverse Cleeve Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) before visiting the Stone Age site of Belas Knap Long Barrow and the Jacobean Manor at Postlip. This is a fantastic adventure if you are looking for a bit of a challenge that is packed with interesting highlights.
Selsley Common Walk
Walking the Selsley Common Trail is a fun adventure in The Cotswolds AONB that will take you through the picturesque English countryside for views of the surrounding villages and rolling hills. While out on the trail, you will climb gently up the hilly terrain of Selsley Common, where you will be greeted with an awesome sightline that stretches out to the Bristol Channel. This route is part of a good network of trails in the area, meaning that you can make your journey longer, shorter, or more challenging if you wish.
Neigh Bridge Circular Walk
The Neigh Bridge Circular Walk can be found just south of The Cotswolds AONB and offers the chance to take in some beautiful lakeside scenery and spot local wildlife. While out on the trail, you will make your way around the forested shores of Neigh Bridge Lake while taking in the scenic views across its calm surface. This quick adventure features very little elevation gain, making it perfectly suitable for a fun family adventure.
Leafield and Field Assart Walk
The Leafield and Field Assart Walk is a pleasant outdoor experience in the southeast corner of The Cotswolds AONB that will take you through a nice mixture of terrain with beautifully scenic views. While out exploring the trail, you will traverse village walkways, open farmland, and quiet country roads, all while taking in the views of the surrounding English countryside. The route is fairly flat overall with little in the way of challenging terrain, making the walk suitable for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts.
Finstock and Wychwood Way Walk
The Finstock and Wychwood Way Walk is a lovely adventure in The Cotswolds AONB that will expose you to the beautiful fields and woodlands that surround the charming Oxfordshire village of Finstock. The trail features fairly flat footpaths and byways, making it suitable for walkers of most ages and skill levels.. Try timing your walk for the spring season, when the natural beauty of the terrain around the woodlands is highlighted by a blanket of bluebells.
Blenheim Park Circular Walk
Walking the Blenheim Park Circular is a fantastic outdoor activity that can be found just on the edge of The Cotswolds AONB and allows you to explore the grounds of Blenheim Palace, the primary residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. While out on the trail, you will meander the banks of the River Glyme and take in spectacular views of the grand estate and its immaculate buildings. Small amounts of elevation gain and easy to navigate terrain make this a great family walking route.
Combe to Blenheim Circular Walk
The Combe to Blenheim Circular is a lovely walk through the scenic Cotswolds countryside. Start the afternoon in the picturesque villages of Combe and then journey through the rolling hills and woodlands towards Blenheim. When the Blenheim Palace comes into view, it will take your breath away. Its rare architecture and formal gardens are a sharp contrast to the pastoral Cotswolds landscapes and provide a beautiful backdrop for your walk.
Marshfield to Cold Ashton Walk
The Marshfield to Cold Ashton Walk is a circular route that travels through the bucolic English countryside between two picturesque Cotswolds villages. After your stroll through the rolling fields and quiet pastures, you’ll find a charming pub waiting for you back in Marshfield.
Wellow – Midford – Upper Twinhoe Walk
The Wellow – Midford – Upper Twinhoe walk takes you to the historic villages of Wellow where you’ll revel in the iconic Cotswolds’ stone cottages, lovely bridges, and charming atmosphere. Then you’ll walk towards the village of Midford through the lush fields and meadows of the lovely English countryside. This walk reaches Upper Twinhoe Farm, where you’ll have some lovely pastoral views.
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