Best Walks in Gloucestershire

Best Walks in Gloucestershire

The beautiful county of Gloucestershire is enveloped in a lush blanket of rolling countryside, peppered with woodland and crowned with monument-topped hills. A wonderful place to immerse in nature and trace trails through spellbinding scenery, it beckons for unforgettable walks throughout the year.

Whether you are looking to tread leisurely footsteps through historic estates or wilderness, both long-distance trails and easy circular routes await. To help you on your way, we’ve curated a guide to some of the best walks in Gloucestershire, from ambles through leafy woodland corridors to strolls beside meandering riverside scenes.

The Cotswold Way

A bench at the top of Cleeve Hill on the Cotswolds Way overlooking Gloucestershire countryside 

The Cotswold Way is one of the most famous long-distance trails in the UK, running for over a hundred miles from Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire all the way to the Roman City of Bath in Somerset. Tracing the western fringes of the Cotswolds Hills, it encompasses a broad array of landscapes and encourages captivating moments absorbed in pastoral tranquillity. Follow the gentle rhythm of your footsteps as you walk along the way-marked trail and explore as much or as little as you desire. A flowing, linear route that can be enjoyed in all seasons, this walk is perfect for both light forays into nature and day-long, point-to-point hikes.

Batsford Arboretum

Batsford Arboretum in Moreton-in-Marsh is an adumbral paradise home to a unique collection of rare plants and trees. Extending across sixty acres of countryside in the Cotswold National Landscape, it is a year-round idyll that transforms from season to season with a flurry of colour and leaves. If you are seeking the best walks in Gloucestershire, visit the arboretum and navigate its pathways at your own pace. Suitable for all generations, it features a dedicated children’s trail, as well as dog-friendly routes throughout. To extend your walk, you can also branch out from the arboretum and meander the mile and a half to nearby Moreton-in-Marsh.

Symonds Yat

Green fields and trees at Symonds Yat in Gloucestershire 

One of the most famous landmarks in Gloucestershire and beyond, Symonds Yat resides in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley and stars a world-renowned viewpoint, the towering Symonds Yat Rock. A natural destination for walkers from near and far, the area has a number of different walking trails ranging from gentle strolls to brisk hikes. For a relaxed introduction, the circular Symonds Yat trail proposes a mile loop through ancient forest and past an ancient Iron Age fort. For a more challenging alternative, the eleven-mile Highmeadows Trail circular takes hikers to steep ascents and rewards with some of the region’s most breathtaking vistas. Look out for peregrine falcons as you go.

Painswick Beacon

Looking over fields and woodland around Painswick in Gloucestershire 

The two-mile loop around Painswick Beacon is one of the best walks in Gloucestershire for its glorious aspect. Located just outside of the picturesque town of Painswick, home to mellow honey-hued cottages and a historic churchyard, the beacon itself rises to nearly a thousand feet and is the site of an Iron Age hillfort. To reach the top, park in the small car park on Portway Road and follow signposted trails towards the beacon. A relaxed walk with some steep inclines and uneven terrain, this route weaves through woodland and climbs to the top of the beacon for spectacular panoramas. On clear days, you can see as far as the Malvern Hills, Forest of Dean and Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) – one of our favourite places to stargaze in the UK.

Cleeve Hill

The snow-topped peak at Cleeve Hill in Gloucestershire 

One of the most iconic natural features of Gloucestershire and the subject of one of the most scenic walks in the Cotswolds is Cleeve Hill near Cheltenham. Reaching more than a thousand feet above sea level, it is the highest peak in the Cotswolds Hills and makes for one of the top walking destinations for wanderers looking for wilderness adventures. Particularly renowned for its stunning vantage points, it allows you to cast your gaze as far as Wales from the top on balmy days. Park at Cleeve Common’s southern car park and follow the Cotswold Way for a while, cutting across the common and up to the top of Cleeve Hill. At five miles long, this circular route can be extended with a paddle in the Wash Pool, as well as a detour to see Belas Knap, a neolithic long barrow nearby.

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

A winding path leading through autumnal trees during golden hour in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire 

The Forest of Dean forms a sweeping tapestry of ancient woodland in Gloucestershire. Situated between the Rivers Severn and Wye, it rests near the border of England and Wales and has roots dating back to 1,000AD when it was used as a royal hunting forest. These days, the Forest of Dean is a spectacular place for ethereal walks between the towering trunks of its ancient trees. For something a little different, the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail offers a sweet introduction. Covering four and a half miles, it has undulating terrain and showcases a range of beautiful artworks interpreting the forest setting, including a fifteen-foot-high stained-glass window suspended between trees. Close by, Mallards Pike resides just four miles away and promises beautiful lakeside strolls.

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

Pretty, honey-hued cottages in a row in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire 

Another of our favourite walks in the Cotswolds, the six mile linear walk from Stow-on-the-Wold to Bourton-on-the-Water provides an enchanting mixture of picturesque villages and charming countryside. Beginning at The Old Socks Inn in Stow-on-the-Wold, it tracks its way through collections of honey-hued cottages and historic buildings, past curated gardens and meandering rivers, and finishes in Bourton-on-the-Water. Take your time to explore the sights along the way, leaving some hours aside if you can for the lovely attractions awaiting in Bourton, such as The Cotswold Motoring Museum, Birdland Park & Gardens, and The Model Village.

Dyrham Park

Cows grazing in a field with Dyrham Park estate house in the background 

Dyrham Park is home to a regal estate, intertwined with 270 acres of gardens and parkland. A haven for walks throughout the year, Dyrham is equally as beautiful in spring with its kaleidoscope of colour as it is in winter with its cloaks of frost and snow. If you would like to explore the estate, the two-and-a-half-mile circular Terraces Walk leads you from the grounds, past the Old Pond and through the deer park, before skirting the pear orchard and ascending Neptune Hill, eventually looping back to the starting point. Steep and uneven in place, the terrain can also become muddy and slippery in winter. Don hardy footwear and immerse yourself in the soothing serenity of the park and relish the vistas that reach past the Severn bridges and as far as the Black Mountains in Wales.

Rodborough Common

Looking out over the grassy fields of Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire 

A nature lover’s dream, the limestone grassland of Rodborough Common in Stroud is an expansive site of Special Scientific Interest protected for its biological and geological merits. One of the best places for walks in Gloucestershire, it is laced with a plethora of pathways that beckon for hours in the fresh country air. One of the easiest walks in the county, the National Trust’s Rodborough Common walk comprises a one-mile lap around the common. Presenting the beautiful flora and fauna of the area and promising showstopping views across the Stroud Valley and Severn Estuary, it encourages a slow pace and moments of quietude. For added magic, gather up a picnic and relax beneath open skies.

Chipping Campden to Dover’s Hill

Sheep grazing in front of the church in Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire 

Encompassing the start of the Cotswold Way and skirting the hem of Dover’s Hill, the four-and-a-half-mile Chipping Campden to Dover’s Hill circular walk lends itself perfectly to adventures throughout the year. A jewel in the Cotswolds crown, it starts in the market town of Chipping Campden; renowned for its terraced High Street, Medieval and Georgian architecture and traditional Cotswolds stone. Pick up the start of the Cotswolds Way trail and veer out of the town, following waymarked signposts as you strike out into the countryside, through sun-dappled woodland and around the hill. Taking from two and a half to three and a half hours, this route requires a good level of fitness, and rewards with a selection of eateries in Chipping Campden upon your return.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum lies just outside of the town of Tetbury and provides sanctuary for awe-inspiring tree collections from all over the world. Sheltering 2,500 different species and five national collections, it offers an idyllic natural playground for soul-soothing walks. Wend past brightly coloured flowers in spring and tread crunchy leaves underfoot in autumn, choosing from a number of walks across the arboretum’s six hundred acres and seventeen miles of hard, grassy paths. Divided into three sections, including the dog-friendly Silk Wood and Central Downs and the dog-free Old Arboretum, Westonbirt truly has something for everyone. Particularly magical, the mile-long sensory walk covers flat, surfaced trails and strives to connect people of all ages with nature.

Looking forward to a walk through spellbinding scenery? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Gloucestershire


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