Why you should walk the Cotswold Way
By Mark Wright
The Cotswold Way is a charming and much cherished long-distance trail stretching 102 miles from the market town of Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire to the historic city of Bath in Somerset. Walking the Cotswold Way is a truly rewarding experience for those who appreciate the combination of history, heritage, and beautiful landscapes on their travels. Here we take a closer look at why we think you should consider this amazing trail as your next great adventure.
The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is characterised by its gently rolling hills, picturesque villages, and lush green patchwork fields. On your journey you’ll find yourself immersed in the natural beauty of the English countryside as you head through ancient woodlands, flower filled meadows, and along the Cotswold escarpment. Day after day, this delightful trail serves up enchanting landscapes that seem straight out of a storybook. The golden-hued stone walls and idyllic thatched cottages add to the quintessential charm. This is a place where time appears to slow down, allowing you to savour the beauty and tranquility of this unspoiled countryside.
As you make your way along, you’ll pass through attractive Cotswold towns and villages such as Chipping Campden, Winchcombe, Painswick, and Wotton-under-Edge. Each of course has its own unique character, but all are known for their medieval churches, quaint streets, delightful local shops, and welcoming local pubs. These picturesque settlements boast charming cottages made from the region’s distinctive honey-coloured limestone. Many of these places have preserved their heritage with meticulous care, and you can feel the weight of history in their ancient architecture. It’s a pleasure to spend time in these communities.
The Cotswold Way is a journey through time, with a wealth of heritage sites and historical treasures waiting to be discovered along the route. These sites offer a fascinating insight to the region’s past and add depth to your walking experience. Here are some of the highlights you’ll encounter along this fascinating trail:
- Well-preserved Roman villas, such as the one at Chedworth, showcasing intricate mosaics and evidence of Roman life in the Cotswolds.
- Hill forts, including the one at Belas Knap, provide a window into the Iron Age and prehistoric era, offering magnificent views from their hilltop locations.
- The Cotswolds are home to an abundance of ancient churches, many dating back to the medieval period. These churches often feature remarkable architecture, stained glass, and other historic elements.
- Barrow Wake and Nympsfield Long Barrow are prehistoric burial mounds, steeped in history and mystery.
- Historic market towns such as Winchcombe and Malmesbury boast a rich heritage, with medieval market squares, ancient buildings, and historical landmarks.
- The Cotswolds have connections to various battles and events, including the English Civil War. Visit the site of the Battle of Edgehill, which took place in 1642.
These heritage sites add layers of historical significance and intrigue to your journey, allowing you to explore the rich tapestry of the region’s past while enjoying the natural beauty of the countryside.
While the walking itself may not be overly strenuous, the Cotswold Way offers a feast of stunning views that are guaranteed to take your breath away. From its elevated vantage points, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Cleeve Hill, the highest point in the Cotswolds, provides a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. The impressive Broadway Tower offers an incredible outlook over the Vale of Evesham, while the escarpment at Crickley Hill offers sweeping views of the Severn Vale and the Malvern Hills in the distance.
These fabulous viewpoints allow you to take in the patchwork of fields, woodlands, and those honey-coloured villages beneath. The changing seasons bring a dynamic element to the landscape too, from the wildflowers in spring to golden harvests in late summer. Whether you’re savouring the panoramas across the undulating hills or the meandering River Severn, the Cotswold Way’s stunning views provide a deep connection to the beauty and splendour of the English countryside.
A highlight for many choosing the Cotswold Way is the historic city of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, most famous for its Roman-built Baths. The city’s Georgian crescents and squares, exemplified by the Royal Crescent and the Circus, are architectural gems. The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, commonly known as Bath Abbey, admired for its stunning Gothic architecture, is another notable landmark. The city’s elegant streets are lined with boutique shops, restaurants, and tearooms. Bath is also a cultural hub, hosting various museums, galleries, and festivals, making the city a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
The tranquil and unspoiled countryside of the Cotswolds, with its gentle rolling hills and quiet meadows, provides the perfect setting to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As we know, just the physical act of walking in nature is inherently calming, helping you unwind and find inner peace as you connect with the natural world.
The unhurried pace of life in the Cotswolds, along with the harmonious blend of history, heritage, and stunning landscapes, creates an immense sense of wellbeing. The clear fresh air, the soothing sounds of birdsong and nature’s palette further contribute to the serenity. It’s a place where you can recharge and enjoy a feeling of contentment that will remain with you long after you’ve completed your journey along the Cotswold Way.
So, as you can see, history, nature, and stunning views unfold along this path, creating an idyllic and immersive experience that epitomises the charm and beauty of the Cotswolds. We offer a range of walking holidays along the Cotswold Way. You can walk the whole route in anything from 6 to 11 days, or we offer the Northern and Southern sections as holidays in their own right, each over 5 days. For further information and to book your 2024 adventure email us [email protected] or call us on 017687 72335 to speak with one of our walking holiday experts.