The Cotswolds is one of the best walking holiday destinations in the UK. You will find some of the best hikes in England in this picturesque corner of the country.
The 800 square mile area of natural beauty is steeped in history and dotted with quintessential English picture-perfect towns. The Roman city of Bath on the southern edge of the Cotswolds the most famous.
Green rolling hills and chocolate box villages make every outing in the Cotswolds a treat for the whole family. However, it is waking holidays and day hikes where the Cotswolds comes into its own.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a Cotswolds walking holiday whether you’re looking for multi-day hikes like the Cotswold Way, short walks or day hikes.
Or, it may be one of the popular pub walks in the Cotswolds that tickles your fancy. You’ll find all the best trails in the Cotswolds here.
The Best Walks in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds Way
Several multi-day walks attract hikers from around the world to the Cotswolds. The most famous, the Cotswolds Way is a seven to ten-day walk stretching North East 100 miles from Bath to Chipping Campden.
If you are looking for a shorter walk, you can choose a section to walk. Walk among the wildflowers at Cleeve Common, the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap or the pretty market towns of Winchcombe and Snowshill.
For an easy eight-mile section of the Cotswolds Way that starts and finishes at a pub, head to the Mount Inn in Stanton.
With stunning views of the Black Welsh mountains, it’s not a bad place to plan your route. One of the most beautiful walks in England, there is something for everyone on the Cotswolds Way.
The Diamond Way
For a week of honey-hued houses, quaint inns and plenty of sheep, take a walk on the Diamond Way route.
Named after it’s rough shape, this hiking trail in the Cotswolds is a fair distance at 65 miles. The Diamond Way stretches from Northleach to Chipping Campden and Bourton on the Water to Guiting Power.
For a slightly shorter route, start from Eversham and follow signs for the ‘Blossom Trail’. One of the most beautiful Cotswolds walking routes in spring for the abundance of flowers.
The 40-mile trail will take you past local farm shops, roadside stalls and pick-your-own farms.
The Best Day Hikes in The Cotswolds
Cleeve Hill Circular Walk
If you are short on time or looking for a more leisurely schedule, there are many shorter hikes and family walks in the Cotswolds. For one of the best views, head over to Cleeve Hill.
It’s the highest point in the area and has stunning views across the Malverns and over the border to Wales.
Start at Cleeve Hill Golf Club and make your way over streams, through forests and fields of blooming flowers on the six and a half-mile circular walk.
A Section of Shakespeare’s Way
See the Rollright Stones (think Stonehenge) on a 5-mile section of the well known Shakespeare Way. The 146-mile trail is said to be Shakespeare’s route between his home in Stratford-Upon-Avon and London.
For one of the best Cotswolds pub walks with a touch of everything the beautiful region has to offer, take the Leckhampton Loop.
Starting, and finishing, at the Seven Springs pub, this afternoon walk takes in ancient woodland, a Victorian quarry and an Iron Age hillfort built between 500 and 100 BC.
Don’t miss the Devils Chimney, a limestone rock formation looking out over the vast Severn Valley.
For one of the more challenging day hikes in the Cotswolds, try the 14 miles Windrush Way that links the Cotswolds Way to the Oxfordshire Way.
A circular route, it takes in the best of the Cotswold Hills between Bourton-on-the-Water and Winchcombe. You’ll pass through the quaint villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter and the welcoming Black Horse Inn at Naunton.
Cotswolds Walking Tours
Guided tours are available to visit some of the must-see sights in the Cotswolds including Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold and Lower Slaughter.
Hikes usually last around 6 hours and can cost between £35 to £55 per person. Cotswolds walks can also be organised as a day trip from London, but it’s much nicer to stay awhile to enjoy the serenity. Check out the Cotswolds official website for more information.
When to Visit the Cotswolds
The weather in England is famously unpredictable. The months between June and August are the warmest with average daytime temperatures between 19°C and 22°C. However, while the weather is beautiful, you can expect it to get busy with tourists.
The shoulder seasons between April to May and September to October are the best time to visit the Cotswolds. You can enjoy fewer tour groups, lower prices and milder weather averaging between 9°C and 19°C. You can also enjoy lovely displays of colour in both spring and autumn.
Winter can see snow and temperatures falling between 6°C and 8°C, as well as shorter days restricting walking hours.
As long as you have the right clothes, it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like in the Cotswolds. It’s beautiful any time of year.
Best Places in the Cotswolds to Stay
What’s the best place to stay in the Cotswolds? For easy access to all the best walking routes in the Cotswolds, bustling market town beauty and a great food scene, Cirencester is an excellent place to start.
With award-winning fish and chip shops like the Malt & Anchor (voted the Best Fish & Chip Shop in the UK 2020 at the ITV Food and Drink Awards), modern eclectic bistro dining from “Made By Bob” and traditional British pubs like The Fleece you won’t be short of places to grab a bite to eat.
Stay at the beautiful Victorian-era Ivy House Bed and Breakfast or The Fleece Hotel mentioned above for the great food.
How to Get to the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds are easily accessible by road, train and bus from any major city in the UK.
Typical journey times from Gloucester by car or train would be:
- Bristol: 45 minutes to 1 hour
- London: 2 hours to 2.5 hours
- Cardiff: 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes
- Birmingham: 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes
- Manchester: 2 hours, 40 minutes to 3 hours.
A day trip from London to the Cotswolds is even possible. However, the Cotswolds deserves more than a day to explore. If you are staying in London, read this post on the top ten weird things to do in the city.