Walking the Cotswold Way
You’ll appreciate that the main aim of the CWA is to raise money to ensure that the Cotswold Way National Trail is kept to the highest standard. Some visitors to this site nonetheless ask us for information on the trail and advice on the best way to experience one of the UK’s most popular long distance walks. Accordingly, this page is being set up to answer some questions that prospective walkers may have.
The Cotswold Way runs for 102 miles between Chipping Campden and Bath. It generally follows the Cotswold Escarpment so there are plenty of fine views across the Severn Valley, with the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons clearly visible on a fine day.
The route drops down from the escarpment in places to allow walkers to enjoy the beauty and the facilities of the many Cotswold villages and towns along the Way. The area is well served by roads and other footpaths – with a bit of planning, there are lots of possibilities for circular day walks and linear walks.
You will find the following links particularly useful …
- The Cotswold Way National Trail website, the best place to start, has an interactive map covering the trail, including a distance measurer, points of interest, accommodation and services. Answers are given to various questions and a GPX file of the trail can be downloaded.
- The Cotswold National Landscape website provides loads of information on the Cotswolds and how to explore this valuable protected landscape.
- Guidebooks: The following guidebooks are currently available from either the National Trails Shop or other retailers …
- Cotswold Way by Anthony Burton. This is the official national trail guidebook and provides route details and general information on points of interest. It is written from north to south.
- Walking the Cotswold Way by Kev Reynolds. This is a Cicerone guide and also covers the route and general information but is written in both directions.
- Cotswold Way Trailblazer Guide. In addition to detailed route information this useful guide also provides reasonably up to date information of accommodation and services along the trail. It is written from north to south.
- Archaeological Walking Guide to the Cotswold Way by Tim Copeland. This is a specialist guidebook which focuses on the historical features present along the trail.
- Slow Travel – The Cotswolds by Caroline Mills. This is an excellent general guide to the Cotswolds with lots of suggestions for places to visit that are off the normal tourist routes.
NB The listing of accommodation and services on the National Trail website is fairly comprehensive. Important to remember, though, is that this data has been created by the establishment owners adding their own information to the site – there is no guarantee that the enterprise is still operating. It is suggested that guidebooks and websites like TripAdvisor are also used to double check availability.
- Maps: The Cotswold Way is marked on the 1:50,000 Landranger OS maps (sheet numbers N-S – 151, 163, 162 and 172) and the 1:25,000 Explorer OS maps (sheet numbers from N to S – 205,OL45, 179,168,167 and 155). The Cotswold Way Harvey Map is particularly useful as it is a strip map on one sheet covering the whole trail and the Cotswold Way A-Z Adventure Atlas also has the whole trail at 1:25,000 in book format. Both are available from the National Trails Shop.
- If you would like to whet your appetite for walking the trail or need to check on a few locations, then why not try the Cotswold National Trail on Google Street View, links can be found at the bottom of this page on the Cotswold National Landscape It’s a bit clunky but is worth a look.
How to walk the Cotswold Way…
Unlike some long distance walking trails, there is no preferred direction to walk the Cotswold Way. It is a magnificent walk whether you walk from N-S from Chipping Campden to Bath or S-N the other way. Many have chosen to do it both ways for different experiences.
Walkers of long distance trails generally find that it is most satisfying to do the walk in one go, spending the nights either in B&Bs or even camping to get to know the area. The Cotswold Way is no exception, but careful planning is required as places to stay are limited on some sections. If you are looking for a place to stay which is an easy day’s walk from Bath, then we recommend Hill Farm , a business member of the CWA.
The National Trail website has a few suggested itineraries for those who do not have the time to walk the whole trail. Some of these are organised by walking companies. We recommend Cotswold Walks and Hike & Bikes who are both business members of the CWA
Those considering walking the trail in bite sized segments might be interested in the “Cotswold Way in Stages” prepared by CWA Trustee, Harvey Mattinson. This breaks the Cotswold Way down into sixteen 6-7 mile sections based on available parking .
You don’t have to carry a heavy pack to walk the Cotswold Way. Luggage transfer is available through several companies listed on the National Trails website. One of them is Cotswold Walkers Transport Services https://www.cotswoldwalkers.com/ a business member of the CWA. They will also handle taxi transfers along the trail.
There is also the option of joining an organised walk along the Cotswold Way with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens in 10 monthly day walks. You can leave your car at Winchcombe or Cold Ashton near Bath and then a bus will take you to the start of each stage of the walk and return you back at the end of the day. More details can be found at the bottom of the Cotswold National Landscape page.
Circular and Day Walks…
There are currently 15 Cotswold Way Circular Walks varying in length from 2.5 to 6 miles and focusing on particularly interesting places along the trail. Go to our Cotswold Way Circular Walks page for more information.
You might also like to take a look at the Self-Guided Walks page of Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers for some great walks in that area.
You can make one way day walks along the Cotswold Way work, but will need to do a bit of local bus services planning. Traveline can give all sorts of public transport options. Our tip is to do the public transport link at the start of the walk rather than the end as it makes for a more relaxing walk. It is also worth investigating is the Cotswolds Discoverer one day pass.
The Best Bits…
There are lots of contenders. See our quirky “50 things to See and Do on the Cotswold Way” to start you thinking.
Experiences of the Trail
You may not know that a “Cotswold Way Hall of Fame” was set up a few years ago for those who’ve completed the trail – they can record their achievement, receive a badge and put comments and photos for others to enjoy. Complete the Hall of Fame Entry Form to record your achievement and buy a badge HERE.
Deep in the heart of Dyrham Wood, about 12 miles north of Bath, you’ll also find a message box put there about 20 years ago to allow walkers to record their experiences of walking the Cotswold Way. You will be fascinated to see some of the entries and personal stories in the Dyrham Message Book . Don’t forget to add yours when you’re passing.