The Cotswolds is known across the UK as a prime holiday destination for beautiful scenery, historic landmarks, picturesque villages with thatched cottages, and an abundance of wildlife. At BCH Camping
, we feel extremely lucky to have such a stunning area on our doorstep.
To celebrate the Cotswolds and its beautiful scenery, for this month’s blog we’re looking at one of its most famous trails. The Cotswold Way is a 102 mile walk that runs along the Cotswold Edge escarpment from the market town of Chipping Camden, down to the city of Bath. What is an escarpment? It is a steep slope or long cliff that forms because of erosion or some other faulting, which separates areas of land with different heights.
Most of the Cotswolds Way follows the escarpment. There are a few circular routes you can take along the way, as well as a couple of easy access walks. Completing the trail in its entirety takes between seven and ten days.
National Trail status
Following many years of lobbying by the Ramblers Association and others, in 1998 the government approved the Cotswolds Way to be a National Trail. The Cotswold Way formally became a National Trail in May 2007, making it one of only a few trails in England with this special grading.
How difficult is the Cotswolds Way?
If you are reasonably fit, you can walk the Cotswold Way, although be warned that there are quite a few steep climbs. The route is very well waymarked, but as with any other long distance walk, it is highly advisable that you take a map, compass and/or a guidebook.
What can I expect to see along the Cotswolds Way?
The Cotswolds Way passes through picturesque villages, many historic sites, beautiful churches and historic houses. It is the diversity of landscape and terrain that makes the Cotswolds Way unique. There are wildflower meadows, shaded beech woodlands with bluebells and wild garlic, sleepy villages and market towns.
Some of the highlights are:
- Roman heritage at Bath
- Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap on Cleeve Hill
- Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe
- 13th century Hailes Abbey, near Winchcombe
- Broadway Tower
- Snowshill Manor and Garden at Broadway
- Battle of Lansdowne site
- Somerset Monument
- Tyndale Monument
The Cotswolds Way route
You can walk the Cotswolds Way in whichever direction you prefer. This route is from north to south.
Arrive at Chipping Campden, one of the most beautiful Cotswolds towns so you may want to arrive a night early to enjoy a short stay there.
Day 2 (18.3 miles) Chipping Campden to Winchcombe.
The route over Dover’s Hill takes you to Broadway Tower, an 18th century folly, once home to the artist William Morris. You’ll pass through the villages of Broadway and Stanton to reach the hamlet of Church Stanway and Stanway House. A steep climb up to Stumps Cross takes you onto the Iron Age Hill Fort of Beckbury Camp to enjoy stunning views. On the way back down you will find the remains of the medieval Hailes Abbey before continuing over the fields and into Winchcombe.
Day 3 (14.3 miles) Winchcombe to Seven Springs
From Winchcombe you will see Sudeley Castle in the distance, and the Neolithic long barrow of Belas Knap. You climb up to Cleeve Common with its panoramic views over the Cheltenham countryside and on to the summit of Cleeve Hill, the highest point on the Cotswold Way. The route from Cleeve Hill takes you through woodland and quiet country lanes and on to Seven Springs which is believed to be the source of the Thames.
Day 4 (14.7 miles) Seven Springs to Painswick
This is a very rural section of the trail through the iconic Cotswold countryside. There is a climb up to Charlton Kings Common, where you will find the rock pillar known as the “Devils Chimney”. The trail continues through peaceful woodland, filled with wildflowers during spring. You’ll pass Coopers Hill, home to the famous annual cheese rolling festival. At the end of your day you will arrive in Painswick, a town with historical links to the cloth trade.
Day 5 (7.3 miles) Painswick to Dursley
This will be a particularly rewarding day, with ancient woodlands and incredible panoramic views. You’ll find Stanley Mill on the edge of Kings Stanley, a nod to the area’s rich history in the woollen trade. The path then follows shaded beech woodlands up to Coaley Peak and Nympsfield Long Barrow, from where you can see the promised panoramic views. Cam Long Down offers even more views, before arriving in the small town of Dursley.
Day 6 (17.5 miles) Dursley to Old Sodbury
The trail from Dursley takes you through valleys with aged mills and streams as you make your way to Hawkesbury Upton. You will be transported back to the rich history of the woollen industry on this section of the trail, and pass through isolated rural villages before walking into Old Sodbury.
Day 7 (9 miles) Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton
Upon leaving Old Sodbury, the Cotswold Way takes you through fields to Coombs End and its extensive farmland. You’ll pass by Dodington Estate on the way to the small village of Tormarton with its fascinating church of St Mary Magdalene. From Tormarton, country lanes take you to the edge of Dyrham Park and past Hinton Hill with its ancient hill fort. Passing through the hamlet of Dryham, and the National Trust’s Dyrham House with its glorious gardens, you finally arrive in the quiet village of Cold Ashton.
Day 8 (21.8 miles) Cold Ashton to Bath
From Cold Ashton you follow lanes, cross fields, climb to the site of an English Civil War battle, and on to Hanging Hill. From here you proceed to Prospect Stile, a popular viewpoint, with Bath now clearly in your sights. Follow the hilltop to Kelston Round Hill which marks the point where the Cotswold Hills end, and on to the end of the trail in Bath.
Get in touch
supply all the clothing
, and backpack equipment
needed to make your Cotswold Way experience one to remember. We have stores in Bath, Chippenham and Trowbridge where our staff will be more than happy to help with any enquiries. Just get in touch
Remember, the adventure starts at BCH!