Scenic Walks in the Cotswolds

Scenic Walks in the Cotswolds

Stepping out into the Cotswolds, you immediately come face-to-face with the archetypal postcard scenes that the English countryside is so famous for. A green and idyllic land interspersed with charming villages of honey-coloured cottages and wooded copses of emerald trees, it is truly dreamy.

As one of the best ways to discover the Cotswolds in summer and winter, walking allows you to delve a little deeper into this National Landscape and visit both famous and little-known gems hidden along the way. From ancient monuments dating back to the Iron Age to lofty hills with far-reaching views to pretty hamlets with quaint tea shops, there’s plenty to see en route. Whether you’re ready to take on the Cotswolds Way or are looking for a gentle countryside amble, here are just some of our favourite scenic walks in the Cotswolds to get you started.

Broadway and the Tower

A view of Broadway Tower on a balmy day with blue skies and tufty white clouds

Distance: 1 mile / 4 miles

Sitting on the summit of Middle Hill near Broadway, Broadway Tower is one of the most famous sights in the Cotswolds. Known as “the tower atop the Cotswolds”, this historic folly was designed by world-famous landscape designer Capability Brown in the 18th Century and sits within a 200-acre parkland estate. Commanding a striking prospect, from the rooftop the eye can travel across 16 counties as far as Wales on clear days here. For a romantic introduction, follow the estate’s mile-long walk around the foot of the tower and up to its roof for picture-perfect panoramas. Or, for more of a leg stretch, pick up the 4-mile circular walk from Broadway village, passing the 11th Century St Eadburgha's church and wending through impossibly pretty fields and deer park en route.

Cleeve Hill to Winchcombe

A powdering of snow atop Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds in winter

Distance: 5.5 miles

At 1,083ft above sea level, Cleeve Hill is the highest point in the Cotswolds Hills and a natural magnet for walkers. Though there are many intermingling trails you can trace up and around Cleeve Hill, there’s a particularly great walk starting from Cleeve Hill’s Quarry car park that you can follow all the way to Winchcombe. Encompassing highlights such as Cleeve Hill Common SSSI, the wooded depths of Breakheart Plantation, the Grade I listed Sudeley Castle, and the 5,000-year-old Belas Knap Neolithic long barrow, it boasts incredible visuals at every turn. Making the destination of Winchcombe even more appealing after a blustery walk are the town’s many welcoming eateries and timbered pubs, ready to reward walkers with warm welcomes and warmer plates.

Bourton-on-the-Water to Stow-on-the-Wold

The yellow stone cottages and winding river of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds under blue skies

Distance: 6 miles / 12 miles

A 6-mile linear walk from the Old Stocks Inn provides a wonderful way to explore both Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold on foot. Navigating a meandering thread of historic streets and country trails before briefly joining the Oxfordshire Way, this walk begins in Stow-on-the-Wold and introduces you to a number of scenic Cotswolds villages and viewpoints along the way. Pitstop en route or save some time to visit some of Bourton-on-the-Water’s attractions upon arrival. Home of Bourton House and its gorgeous gardens, Birdland Park & Gardens, Cotswold Motoring Museum and The Model Village, there is certainly more than enough to capture your attention. Return on foot or by bus back to Stow-on-the-Wold and the Old Stocks Inn, ready for delicious fare to refuel and revive.

Chedworth and the Roman Villa

Blue skies over the National Trust's Chedworth Roman Village and Museum in the Cotswolds

Distance: 4 miles

Originating from 2nd Century AD and rediscovered in 1863, Chedworth Roman Villa near Cheltenham is a fascinating historical time capsule in the heart of the Cotswolds. Now admired by booted walkers, the foundations of this villa were once trodden by well-heeled Roman dignitaries in the Golden Age of Roman Britain. Adding to its appeal as a popular tourist attraction, Chedworth also happens to be surrounded by fairy-tale countryside daubed with oak, hazel and beech woodland. To really make the most of the heavenly surrounds, stroll along the 4-mile loop around Chedworth village, woods and villa, and soak up the history and scenery as you go.

Westonbirt Arboretum

A tree-lined avenue at Westonbirt Arboretum

Distance: 1 mile / 17 miles

The National Arboretum at Westonbirt is an adumbral arcadia populated by 2,500 different species of trees from all over the world. Allowing you to travel to all the corners of the globe whilst staying rooted in the Cotswolds, the arboretum’s scenic walks weave around the estate’s 600 acres. With over 17 miles of paths to choose from, you can savour moments spent within Westonbirt’s umbrageous treescapes and decide how much, or little, walking you’d like to do. Must-sees are the site’s National Collections of maples, bladdernut, lime and walnut, as well as its more endangered species. Of these, the Wollemi pine is one of the oldest and rarest plants in the world and dates back to the dinosaurs.

Sezincote House to Bourton-on-the-Hill

The exotic mansion of Sezincote with a lake in the foreground and blue skies above

Distance: 3 miles

A pleasant 3-mile walking route starts in the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill close to Batsford Arboretum and leads amblers to the magnificent Sezincote House near Moreton-in-Marsh. Cutting through picturesque countryside and the manicured grounds of Sezincote Estate, it promises an extraordinary walk from the Cotswolds all the way to the exotic climes of India. Modelled on a Mogul Indian palace, Sezincote House with its domes and minarets and gorgeous gardens makes for a completely unique experience. Spend time following the curve of its spring-fed pools and lake and exploring its pavilions and temples for a sensory feast. Upon your return, Bourton-on-the-Hill’s local pub, Horse and Groom, beckons with tasty replenishment.

Stanton to Snowshill

The flower-filled gardens of Snowshill Manor in the Cotswolds

Distance: 6 miles

Joining two picture-perfect villages, Stanton and Snowshill, this 6-mile walk takes walkers on a tour past thatched cottages, through dappled woodland and down and over sunken valleys. Encompassing Cotswolds highlights including the 16th Century Snowshill Manor and the Iron Age Shenberrow Hill Camp, it beckons with historical and cultural intrigue as well as some of the most bucolic scenery imaginable. Lace up your walking boots and head out into the fresh Cotswolds air; you’ll need a good level of fitness as this route includes some steep sections, stiles and mud in winter, but is well worth the effort. Of course, added incentive lies in the form of the villages’ eateries and pubs.

Chipping Norton and the Rollright Stones

The famous Rollright Stones in the Cotswolds with trees in the background

Distance: 8 miles

This 8-mile route begins in the old market town of Chipping Norton (known affectionately as “Chippy” by locals) and includes the fascinating Rollright Stones. With its name meaning “market north town”, records of Chipping Norton date back to the 9th Century, while recently the town has found further fame as being the location of Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop. To discover the stones, cross rolling countryside towards the village of Salford, on the fringes of which sit the curious Rollrights. So old are these Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments that even the lichen on their gnarled faces have been carbon dated as 800 years old. Let your eyes flit between the stones and the views before heading back to Chippy, ready to pick up some farm fresh treats to take back to your Boutique Retreat.

Looking forward to donning your walking boots? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds.



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