BEST COTSWOLDS WALKS GUIDE
The Cotswolds is by far one of the best places to explore in the UK.
Its honey-stone houses create enchanting villages that have been dolloped across the patchwork of fields; every slice of the area is undeniably picturesque.
There are a plethora of hiking trails to choose from here, and some of the best Cotswolds walks lead from one village to the next, passing many historical landmarks and collecting incredible viewpoints with each step.
In this guide, you’ll find the best routes that have been tried and tested by us many times.
You’ll find an overview of each walk, as well as some key statistics and a link to the trail route.
At the end of the post, you’ll find a map that shows the start point of each route.
This should help you decide where is best to stay in order to access all of these walks easily.
WHERE ARE THE COTSWOLDS?
The Cotswolds are in the western part of the UK. They span from Bath, all the way up to Stratford-Upon-Avon.
BEST TIME TO GO WALKING IN THE COTSWOLDS
The best time to go walking in the Cotswolds is considered to be from April to October.
Hiking during these months should mean that the weather is dry and with some luck, hopefully very sunny and warm too.
That being said, you can enjoy hiking in the Cotswolds almost any time of year as long as you have the right clothing.
The Cotswolds in winter offer a truly magical experience – albeit cold – and November is often beautiful with all of the autumnal colours.
BEST COTSWOLDS WALKS
BROADWAY TOWER CIRCULAR WALK
Distance: 7.2km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 271 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
Broadway Tower Circular Walk is one of the most popular walks in the Cotswolds.
This is because Broadway is one of the best villages to visit and seeing the tower is one of the most popular things to do there.
For those who love hiking, then Broadway Tower Circular is an excellent walk that takes you from the centre of the village, up the edge of Fish Hill, through the forest and directly to Broadway Tower.
Once you’ve arrived at the tower, you can pay £12 to explore the inside whilst listening to an insightful audiotape, before heading to the top to get some of the best panoramic views of the Cotswolds.
There is also a cafe for those who need to refuel, as well as a deer park.
Once you’ve finished exploring Broadway Tower and the surrounding area, it is a downhill walk all the way back to the village centre.
Tip: Broadway Tower is always a great spot to visit for sunset.
SEZINCOTE HOUSE AND BOURTON-ON-THE-HILL HIKE
Distance: 7.7km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 212 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route map
Sezincote House and Bourton-on-the-Hill route is a super easy Cotswolds walk that is great for anyone who is looking to challenge themselves on distance whilst avoiding any major inclines.
The route starts in the lovely little village of Bourton-on-the-Hill and leads across fields that instantly provide lovely views over the Cotswolds hills that are littered with sheep.
Before long, you’ll spot the regal-looking Sezincote House – a 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace that’s perched on the hilltop.
It’s surrounded by tranquil gardens and welcomes visitors throughout the year to explore the grounds and hosts a number of weddings.
The route continues across a series of fields before arriving at the village of Longborough, where there’s a pub called The Coach and Horses – a great place to stop if you’re looking to break up the route.
Alternatively, there is a pub at the end of the walk called Horse and Groom in Bourton-on-the-Hill.
Tip: the popular village of Moreton-in-Marsh is 7 minutes away from the start of this route and worth taking a trip to whilst you’re in the area.
SALFORD TO THE ROLLRIGHT STONES CIRCULAR WALK
Distance: 8.5km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 268 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route map
The Salford to the Rollright Stones walk begins in the small village of Salford and ultimately leads to The Rollright Stones – the main attraction of the walk that’s steeped in history.
The Rollright Stones are made up of three different sites – The Whispering Knights, The Kings Men and The King Stone.
Each site has a set of stones – or a single stone – that was erected during the Neolithic and Bronze ages.
This is fascinating to see as it begs questions such as why and how these came to be, which you should hopefully get an insight into when you visit.
The Whispering Knights are the largest of the three sites and are essentially a miniature version of Stonehenge near Salisbury, whilst the other two are much smaller but equally as fascinating.
Overall, the route is relatively flat whilst still providing some fantastic views over the rolling hills in the Cotswolds.
This makes it great for those with minimal fitness levels and of course, it’s a fantastic option for those who love history.
Tip: There is a voluntary contribution box to visit The Rollright Stones which asks for £1 for adults and 70p for children, so make sure you’re carrying some spare change.
STANTON, SNOWSHILL AND STANWAY CIRCULAR
Distance: 9.8km | Time: 2-3 hours | Elevation: 347 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
The Stanton, Snowshill and Stanway Circular is one of our favourite trails that we’ve walked many times as it has a little bit of everything; quaint villages, scenic views, woodland pathways, and a few pub stops.
Honestly, there’s not much more you could ask for from a hike in the Cotswolds.
The walk begins in the small village of Stanton and starts with a steep incline that anyone with moderate fitness levels could handle.
The route leads over hilltops, through fields and down country lanes before arriving in the well-known village of Snowshill.
It’s here that you will find your first pub – Snowshill Arms.
After following the trail through woodland and alongside a small stream, it arrives in Stanway – a small village that’s home to little more than Stanway Manor House, a church and a few dozen houses.
Whilst small, it’s utterly stunning and totally serene.
The final stretch of this Cotswold walk leads back to Stanway, where there is another pub called The Mount Inn that we highly recommend.
They’re perched along the hillside and have a great decking area for guests to enjoy a bite to eat whilst looking out over the hills.
BROADWAY TOWER, SNOWSHILL AND STANTON CIRCULAR
Distance: 15km | Time: 4-5 hours | Elevation: 522 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
This walk is very similar to the Stanton, Snowshill and Stanway loop, however, it’s just over 5km longer and swaps out Stanton for Broadway.
Including Broadway is a better option for those who enjoy a busy atmosphere and are keen to explore Broadway Tower.
But, of course, it will require more effort with additional distance and elevation.
If you’re up for the challenge, then the route leaves from Broadway and immediately climbs the long and steep hill towards Broadway Tower. It’s gentle, to begin with, but gradually steepens as you get closer to the top.
From the tower, it’s a peaceful descent to Snowshill through woodland and along country lanes.
You’ll pass Snowshill Lavender Farm – a family-run business that allows visitors to wander through the vibrant fields and sells all sorts of things made from their lavender.
The farm is actually just outside of Snowshill, so the above Cotswolds walk does not lead past it.
You’ll then drop down into Snowshill itself, where you’ll get to pop into the Snowshill Arms pub if you wish.
Alternatively, Snowshill Manor is also nearby.
As the trail continues on, it further descends into Stanton via fields and country lanes, before looping back round to Broadway.
This walk is great for those who are looking to explore the area on foot whilst also accessing some of the key points of interest that you would most likely include in your Cotswolds itinerary regardless.
BOURTON-ON-THE-WATER AND LOWER SLAUGHTER CIRCULAR COTSWOLDS WALK
Distance: 11.9km | Time: 2.5-3 hours | Elevation: 342 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
Bourton-on-the-Water and Lower Slaughter Circular includes a bustling village with a great atmosphere, a smaller village that’s peaceful and serene, and a whole lot of countryside – which may or may not come as a surprise.
This Cotswolds walk leaves from the popular village of Bourton-on-the-Water – a busy village with dozens of riverside places to eat and drink.
The route follows a trail that quickly descends into the nearby -much smaller – village of Lower Slaughter.
Over the years, Lower Slaughter has become increasingly popular and is one of our favourite places to visit for a riverside picnic.
As you’re walking through this small piece of paradise, it’s worth swinging by The Old Mill Museum to grab a well-deserved ice cream to relax with by the River Windrush.
The walking begins to get tougher as you leave Lower Slaughter and follow the trail that climbs through a series of fields.
After some time, you’ll be met by the River Windrush again. From here, the trail hugs the river all the way back to Bourton-on-the-Water.
COTSWOLDS WAY: CHIPPING CAMPDEN TO BROADWAY LOOP
Distance: 17.9km | Time: 4-6 hours | Elevation: 562 meters | Difficulty: Easy/some short ascents | Route map
The Cotswolds Way: Chipping Campden to Broadway loop is one of the bigger walks in the area and includes two of the best villages in the Cotswolds, both of which are home to the well-known pub – The Lygon Arms.
The one in Broadway is by far the more popular of the two, however, the one in Chipping Campden is also great.
Expensive – £12 for a sandwich – but still great.
The route leaves Chipping Campden behind almost immediately and finds the top of Dovers Hill, which provides incredible views right off the bat.
It then goes on to cover a series of fields with designated picnic benches, before finally reaching Broadway Tower.
The trail then leads to Broadway High Street, where there are plenty of places to eat and drink.
If you can’t stomach the cost of the Lygon Arms (and quite rightly so!), then our current favourite in Broadway is Flipside – a mouth-wateringly fantastic burger restaurant that serves all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations.
From Broadway, the route starts to loop back round to Chipping Campden.
It throws in a series of hills which, on a hot day and after quite some distance, can be tough.
However, these are short-lived and views from the top are well worth pushing through for.
The remainder of the walk is gentle and takes explorers along many deserted bridle tracks before arriving back in Chipping Campden.
All-in-all, this is an excellent Cotswold way circular walk for those who enjoy visiting larger villages, historical landmarks and prefer walking a longer distance.
Tip: There is a small section that leads along a busy road for roughly 5 minutes. If you’ve got a dog or children, this is something to be aware of.
COLN SAINT ALDWYNS AND BIBURY LOOP
Distance: 10.5km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 270 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route map
The Coln Saint Aldwyns and Bibury Loop is yet another fantastic walk in the Cotswolds which leads to one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds – Bibury.
Bibury is a small, toy-like village that is best known for starring in Bridget Jone’s Diary and has since become a popular spot for those exploring the Cotswolds.
Whilst it’s a sleepy village with little more than a few pubs to provide entertainment, it’s certainly one of the prettiest places to walk around.
The route itself is very easy and spends a lot of its time either following the River Coln or meandering through small villages before returning to Coln Saint Aldwyns which is home to The New Inn pub.
They serve some of the best burgers we have ever tasted so highly recommend making sure you leave enough time at the end of the hike to have something to eat here.
This is one of the best Cotswolds walks that many people ensure is on their list when visiting the area – be sure not to miss it!
GUITING POWER AND NAUNTON CIRCULAR
The Guiting Power and Naunton Circular is an easy walk that’s challenging in places.
And, despite the name, it actually covers 3 villages in the Cotswolds: Guiting Power, Naunton and Barton.
The hike begins in Guiting Power, which although small, has a surprising amount of things going on.
There are more than a few pubs, a shop and a church to name a few. After following a dirt track over a couple of fields, you’ll quickly arrive in Barton, which we would describe as more of a hamlet than a village.
Nonetheless, it’s a picturesque place to pass through, with a stunning turquoise lake and grand honey-stone houses.
The route then begins to get challenging, as you’ll head up a long country road with an incline for quite some time.
Following a series of twists and turns, the route finally starts to lead downhill into the sleepy yet serene village of Naunton – one of our favourite tiny villages in the area.
As you leave Naunton, the route leads uphill towards the home straight back to Guiting Power.
Overall, this route feels very authentic; with very few tourists around you’ll get to see through the window what living here really looks like.
SEVEN SPRINGS AND LECKHAMPTON HILL COTSWOLDS WALK
Distance: 8.5km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 301 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
The Seven Springs and Leckhampton Hill Walk is very close to the top of our list when it comes to the best Cotswolds walks.
This is because it’s challenging in all of the right places, has many diversions off the main trail for secret picnic spots with insane views, and it has some interesting historical tales attached to it.
Whilst the walk wastes no time getting into an incline, those who are willing to put in the work will reap the rewards of the fantastic views that overlook Cheltenham and beyond.
And, once you’ve reached the top, that’s the hard work done for the entire walk, as the trail leads across the top of Leckhampton hill for quite some time.
It’s here that there are various tracks that divert away from the main path and lead to many secret spots with incredible views.
Before heading back down through a woodland forest, the trail passes a historical point called The Devils Chimney – a prominent rock formation that stands above a disused quarry.
The remainder of the walk meaders through the forest before arriving at a dirt track that passes some incredible mansion houses with envious views.
Overall, this Cotswolds walk is fantastic for those who enjoy a challenge and fantastic scenery.
MICKLETON AND HIDCOTE MANOR COTSWOLDS WALK
Distance: 8.4km | Time: 2 hours | Elevation: 291 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
Mickleton and Hidcote Manor Walk is a less travelled trail that in our opinion, is pretty awesome.
You’ll barely see a sole for most of the time on this route, which is why love it so much.
As the name suggests, the route starts and ends in Mickleton and stops at Hidcote Manor in between.
Hidcote Manor is a real gem in itself; it’s a national trust house with some spectacular gardens – gardens like we’ve never seen before.
Plus, it also happens to be located around the halfway point, making it a great place to grab some lunch.
The rest of the route includes plenty of undulating paths with a couple of steep sections here and there, but overall it’s nothing too strenuous and can be enjoyed by a variety of fitness levels.
Tip: Hidcote Manor is closed during the winter months. They also close early on Sundays, so it’s always worth checking the opening times ahead of your hike if you’re planning to stop here.
COTSWOLDS AND BURFORD CIRCULAR
Distance: 10.5km | Time: 2-3 hours | Elevation: 279 meters | Difficulty: Easy | Route map
Cotswolds and Burford Circular starts and finishes in one of the larger and most popular villages in the area – Burford.
It’s a hillside village with a busy high street that’s filled with gorgeous bakeries, antique shops and bookstores.
We highly recommend picking up a treat from Bakery On The Hill to enjoy at the halfway point of the walk.
This hike predominantly leads through a number of fields with grazing livestock.
It’s very easy, with only a gradual incline for the first half of the walk.
Not long after the halfway mark, the route drops down to find the river Windrush, which is followed all the way back to Burford.
Whilst this loop is just over 10km, it’s very gentle and one that can be enjoyed by most walkers – including children – and is easily one of the best Burford walks on the map.
CHIPPING CAMPDEN AND DOVERS HILL CIRCULAR WALK
Distance: 8km | Time: 1.5-2 hours | Elevation: 305 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
The Chipping Campden and Dovers Hill Circular leaves from the popular village of Chipping Campden.
The map shows the route leading along the main road at times, however, there are walking trails parallel in the fields beside the roads.
These are easily identifiable from the map and we recommend taking this option for the most enjoyable route.
Once you’ve left Chipping Campden behind, you’ll cover most of the distance over fields with grazing livestock and travel alongside a stream before the climb begins to Dovers Hill.
This can be quite steep at times, however, it’s not anything that anyone with moderate fitness levels won’t be able to handle.
Once you’ve reached the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views over the Cotswolds and beyond for roughly 10 minutes.
The route then descends back into Chipping Campden where there are plenty of options for a drink and a bite to eat.
BLOCKLEY AND BATSFORD CIRCULAR COTSWOLDS WALK
Distance: 7.9km | Time: 1.5-2 hours | Elevation: 268 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
Blockley and Batsford Circular leaves from Blockley which is one of the lesser-known villages in the area with an authentic feel.
It’s home to a small number of traditional-style restaurants, as well as Blockley Cafe which is a modern Cotswolds building – the type with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that are jaw-droppingly stunning.
The trail leaves Blockley to find a large woodland area with some incredibly tall trees and many sounds of nature that echo through the forest.
The route goes on to find the village of Batsford, which is home to Batsford Arboretum.
If you’re looking to break up the walk, then this is a great place to swing by for a drink and something to eat.
Alternatively, you can continue along the trail which covers multiple fields with views over the rolling hills, before arriving back in Blockley.
Although this is a short walk in the Cotswolds and fairly simple, it’s one of the most peaceful walks in the area.
WINCHCOMBE AND BELAS KNAP CIRCULAR
Distance: 10.3km | Time: 2-2.5 hours | Elevation: 375 meters | Difficulty: Moderate | Route map
Winchcombe and Belas Knap Circular begins in Winchcombe – a Cotswolds town that has a combination of Tudor style and honey-stone buildings – think Stratford-upon-Avon crossed with Broadway.
This route covers over three-quarters of its elevation within the first couple of kilometres, making it a fairly tough start.
As you climb higher, Winchcombe gets smaller and visibility further afield gets greater.
This is quite tough on the legs and a great challenge, even for the experienced hiker.
Once the route flattens, you’ll soon be at Belas Knap – an ancient chamber that dates back to the Neolithic period.
The site is free to roam around and offers further information on a plaque.
As you continue along the walk, you’ll follow tracks across fields before reaching the well-known Cleeve Common which is the largest area and the highest point in the Cotswolds.
As soon as you enter the area, you’ll begin to descend along a track that leads through peaceful woodland and alongside a stream.
Eventually, you’ll arrive at a country road that leads past an impressive mansion house, before retracing your steps along the final descent back into Winchcombe.
Tip: Winchcombe is also home to Sudeley Castle which is owned by Lady Ashcombe. We highly recommend visiting the grounds if you’ve got time.
Tip: Whilst there isn’t anywhere to stop for something to eat and drink along this route, The Old Bakery in Winchcombe is one of the best places on the high street to finish your walk with.
BEST COTSWOLDS WALKS MAP
Below you’ll find an interactive map with all of the best Cotswolds walks plotted in green.
Each pin has a link to the route map.
WHAT IS THE BEST VILLAGE TO USE AS A BASE IN THE COTSWOLDS?
If you look at the above map, then you will quickly realise that a lot of the greatest walks are towards the middle and northern areas of the Cotswolds.
You’ll find teeny tiny villages to more built up and touristic locations to base yourself across the Cotswolds, and so it depends on your travel style to which would suit you best.
Below are some places to consider depending on your preference, however, if I had to give one recommendation for each, then it would be Bibury and Broadway.
Remote and peaceful locations
Guiting Power is a tranquil and idyllic village that provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Its rural charm, rich history, and beautiful surroundings make it a popular destination for tourists seeking an authentic Cotswold experience.
Historically, Guiting Power was a significant centre for the wool trade during the medieval period.
The village features several well-preserved Cotswold stone houses and buildings that showcase the traditional architecture of the region, which of course, is what makes the Cotswolds such a charming and desirable place to visit.
The best place to stay is:
Blockley is a picturesque village situated about three miles northwest of Moreton-in-Marsh.
The charming village streets are lined with cottages and historic buildings, creating a quintessential Cotswold ambience that – for those who enjoy a peaceful yet picturesque setting – will no doubt love.
Despite its small size, Blockley offers a range of amenities and services.
The village has a post office, a community-run shop, a café, and a pub called The Great Western Arms, which serves as a local gathering spot.
The best place to stay is:
Bibury is often referred to as one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, renowned for its idyllic setting, historic architecture, and natural beauty.
The village of Bibury is situated on the banks of the River Coln and is known for its rows of perfectly preserved medieval stone cottages.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the most famous streets in Bibury is Arlington Row, a row of weavers’ cottages dating back to the 17th century.
These cottages, with their steeply pitched roofs and honey-coloured limestone walls, have become an iconic image of the Cotswolds and have been frequently photographed and depicted in artwork.
The best place to stay is:
Vibrant and bustling locations
The village of Broadway is often referred to as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds” due to its stunning beauty and idyllic surroundings.
The main street of Broadway is lined with honey-coloured limestone buildings, many of which date back to the 16th century, and the architecture reflects a mix of Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian styles, adding to the village’s unique character and charm.
You’ll find heaps of restaurants, cafes and boutique shops, as well as some excellent accommodation options.
Some of the best places to stay are:
Bourton-on-the-Water is perhaps one of the most well-known villages in the Cotswolds and is often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” due to the small bridges that cross the River Windrush, which flows through the centre of the village.
The High Street is lined with traditional Cotswold stone houses, shops, cafes, and tea rooms and offers a delightful place to stroll, shop for local crafts, and enjoy traditional English cream tea.
Although it’s one of the most touristic villages in the area, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular once you visit.
The best places to stay are:
Chipping Campden is a quintessential Cotswold market town that captivates visitors with its historical significance, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene.
The town’s name, “Chipping Campden,” comes from the Old English word “cēapen,” meaning market, and “camp,” meaning field or encampment.
This reflects the town’s historical significance as a thriving market centre during the Middle Ages.
You’ll find plenty of things to do, epic viewpoints and heaps of incredible places to eat in and around Chipping Campden, making in a great base.
The best places to stay are:
- What are the best Cotswolds walks with pubs?
Broadway Tower Circular, Broadway Tower, Snowshill and Stanton Circular, Chipping Campden and Dovers Hill Circular Walk & Coln Saint Aldwins and Bibury Loop.
- What are the best Cotswolds winter walks?
You can do any of these walks during the winter, but perhaps the most preferable ones are shorter and include some pubs along the way (as per above).
- How many days are enough for Cotswolds?
You could spend weeks and weeks walking in the Cotswolds as there are so many epic trails, things to do and cute villages to explore.
However, most people spend 1 to 2 weeks here, depending on how much time they have.
DISCOVER BEYOND THE BEST COTSWOLDS WALKS
If you enjoyed this post about the best Cotswolds walks, then we’ve got some other posts about the area for you to discover below.
- Where to stay in the Cotswolds / discover the best locations and heaps of budget to luxury hotels
- Cotswolds itinerary / take all the hassle away and follow this 3-day trip
- Glamping in the Cotswolds / discover the best glamping spots with hot tubs and outdoor baths
- Romantic things to do in the Cotswolds / find the best things to do with your loved one
- Seven Sisters walk / if you fancy something different, then why not try this dramatic coastal trail
- Climbing Ben Nevis / tackle the UK’s highest mountain
Stay Wild Travels.
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