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
Guiting Wood Loop
The Guiting Wood Loop is a charming adventure set in the picturesque Gloucestershire countryside that will allow you to explore some of the beautiful forests that can be found within The Cotswolds AONB. While out walking the trail, you will meander along a tributary of the River Windrush before climbing uphill to explore the tranquil expanse of Guiting Wood. Although there is a bit of uphill walking, this is a pleasant walk that can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of nearly every skill level.
Guiting Power Circular Walk
The Guiting Power Circular Walk is a great route in the centre of The Cotswolds AONB that will produce some lovely views of the surrounding Gloucestershire countryside. While out walking, you will make your way across rolling hills and through tranquil stretches of woodland terrain to pass through the village of Kineton on the return to Guiting Power. The relatively laid back terrain and charming views make this a superb adventure for the entire family.
Stow on the Wold Circular Walk
Walking the Stow in the Wold Circular is an amazing experience in Gloucestershire due to the fact that you can visit several charming villages and explore the scenic terrain within The Cotswolds AONB. The trail begins in Bourton on the water and cuts across the picturesque landscape to Stow on the Wold before turning to the southwest to visit the historic village of Lower Slaughter. It is a bit of a longer route, but the beautiful views and local history along the route certainly make it worthwhile.
Winchcombe and Bourton on the Water Walk
Walking the Winchcombe and Bourton on the Water Trail is a lengthy undertaking that will allow you to experience some of the most scenic locales within The Cotswolds AONB. While out on the trail, you will make your way across the picturesque Gloucestershire countryside, passing through charming villages like Guiting Power, Naunton, and Bourton on the Water in the process. This is a one-way route, so make sure to arrange a pick up at the end of the trail, otherwise you will need to make the lengthy journey back on foot.
Guiting Power and Naunton Circular Walk
The Guiting Power and Naunton Circular Walk is a fun experience in The Cotswolds AONB that features a good variety of terrain and scenic views of the surrounding landscape. While out on the trail, you will traverse open fields and quiet pathways that will lead you through historic villages with stone cottages and stretches of farmland packed with rolling green hills. There are a few steep climbs along the route, but the wonderfully scenic views are well worth the effort.
Cotswold Way: Stanton to Chipping Campden Walk
Walking The Cotswold Way - Stanton to Chipping Campden is an amazing experience that will allow you to take in the natural beauty of several locales within The Cotswolds AONB. While out on the trail, you will make your way through the historic villages of Stanton, Broadway, and Chipping Campden, all while surrounded by amazing views of the sprawling sea of green that makes up the rolling hills of the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire countryside. You will need to arrange a pick up at the end of this lengthy one-way trail, but the spectacular views are more than enough reward for your troubles.
Dovers Hill Walk
The Dovers Hill Walk is a pleasant journey in Gloucestershire that will allow you to appreciate the beautiful scenery that can be found within The Cotswolds AONB. The trail sets out from the village of Chipping Campden and climbs uphill through open fields and stretches of woodland, looping around for some lovely views of the rolling hills. This is a beautifully scenic adventure for a relaxing weekend walk.
Ilmington and Hidcote Walk
The Ilmington and Hidcote Walk is a beautifully scenic adventure that will take you on a countryside loop to visit the historic Hidcote Manor House and Gardens. While out on the trail, you will traverse open stretches of farmland terrain and walk along quiet country roads to visit the beautifully manicured Hidcote Manor Gardens that offer a fun afternoon of exploration. While the gardens and most of the trail are suitable for children, there are some portions of the walk along roads, so you will need to exercise caution.
Sezincote House and Bourton on the Hill Walk
The Sezincote House and Bourton on the Hill Walk is a great adventure in The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that can be enjoyed by families and experienced walkers alike. The trail sets out from the charming village of Bourton on the Hill and crosses the picturesque English countryside to the southwest, where you will be able to spot the grande estate of Sezincote House. This walk is perfectly suited for a relaxing weekend coffee walk.
Milton under Wychwood Circular Walk
The Milton under Wychwood Circular Walk is a fantastic route that will lead you through the picturesque Oxfordshire countryside for some lovely views. While out walking the trail, you will leave the village behind to pass through farmer’s fields and charming stretches of woodland terrain, making for a pleasant afternoon outdoors. Be sure to wear water-resistant footwear in the winter/spring seasons, as the trail can become fairly bogged down with mud.
Swinbrook and Fullbrook Circular Walk
The Swinbrook and Fullbrook Circular Walk is a beautifully scenic experience in Oxfordshire that will take you through some of the lovely countryside landscapes that can be found within The Cotswolds AONB. Along the trail, you will make your way through charming villages, open fields, and atmospheric forests that produce a real sense of relaxation, allowing you to let go of the outside world and reconnect with nature. Wellies are a must if you are planning this walk in the winter/spring, as the ground will likely be fairly muddy.
Minster Lovell and Burford Walk
The Minster Lovell and Burford Walk is a great experience in Oxfordshire that will lead you around several historic villages set within The Cotswolds AONB. While out walking this route, you will pass through charming locales such as Swinbrook, Widford, Burford, and Fullbrook, taking in the beautifully scenic views of picturesque countryside and historic buildings along the way. This is a fantastic intermediate length route for a fun weekend excursion.
The Finstock Stroll is a lovely adventure set in the Oxfordshire countryside that will lead you through the beautifully scenic farmland that surrounds a charming village. While out on this easy walk, you will traverse easy terrain that is interrupted only by a few gates, making it suitable for outdoor enthusiasts of every skill level. If you are looking to take a leisurely approach to your Cotswolds adventure, try popping into The Plough Inn at the midway point of the walk for some refreshments.
Heart of England Way: Stow Circular Walk
The Heart of England Way - Stow Circular Walk is a fun journey in The Cotswolds AONB that will take you through several historic villages with beautiful scenery in between. While out walking the trail, you will pass through the village of Stow on the Wold and make your way down to the banks of the River Dikler, following it closely to pass through Lower Swell on the return leg of the route. Although there are a few portions of this walk that follow along the road, it is still a scenic adventure that is suitable for walkers of varying ability.
Crackpot Hall Walk
The Crackpot Hall Walk is a stunning journey that incorporates nature and history. Explore the ancient ruins along this walk and cool off in the cascading waterfall. Enjoy the quaint village of Muker and gaze at the captivating views at the valley of Swinner Gill.
Combe Circular Walk
Explore the tranquil Cotswolds countryside on this beautiful circular walk in Oxfordshire. The Combe Circular Walk begins from the Combe train station and you’ll walk along rolling fields, and pastures as you head towards the Cotswolds village of Combe. The route pops into this historic hilltop village before it makes another loop towards Stonesfield.
Stroud and Stonehouse Canal Walk
If you are after a relaxing one-way stroll by the water’s edge, then the Stroud and Stonehouse Canal Walk is the perfect way to spend an afternoon on the trails. This charming route will take you along the restored Stroudwater Navigation Canal, exposing you to views of historic buildings and lovely recreation areas in the process. While there is one set of stairs to navigate, this trail is otherwise free of difficult terrain, making it perfectly suitable for walkers of every skill level.
Ozleworth Park Walk
The Ozleworth Park Walk is a scenic adventure that will lead you through a beautiful estate set within The Cotswolds AONB. While out walking the trail, you will climb through the undulating landscape and take in beautifully scenic views of rolling green hills, peaceful forests, and winding brooks. Certain parts of this trail can be confusing and difficult to navigate, so be sure to bring a decent trail map or GPS to stay on the correct route.
Monarch’s Way and Newark Park Circular Walk
If you enjoy lengthy countryside walks and taking strolls through quaint villages, then the Monarch’s Way and Newark Park Circular Walk is a perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon. The trail sets out from the Newark Park National Trust building and loops through the undulating countryside to pass through the villages of Hillesley and Wortley, while offering scenic views of the surrounding Cotswolds landscape. Be sure to keep to the well-trodden pathways, as portions of this route border private property.
Edge Hill Loop
Walking the Edge Hill Loop is an amazing experience in The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that will take you past a grand estate for views overlooking the Warwickshire countryside. While out on the trail, you will make your way past the Upton House and Gardens and walk along a wooded edge that offers sweeping views of the surrounding landscape before passing through the charming village of Ratley. This is an outstanding route with plenty of natural and historic charm.
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