The Most Beautiful Hikes and Walks in the Cotswolds Countryside

Discover the mysterious Rollright Stones on a Cotswolds walk
Discover the mysterious Rollright Stones on a Cotswolds walk | © Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Sarah Dawson
8 September 2020

With a stunning landscape just waiting to be explored, the Cotswolds offer walks and hiking trails to rival the very best in England and the UK – from the Cotswold Way to the Leckhampton Loop. So whether you fancy a gentle ramble or a more adventurous hike, pop on your walking boots and head out on one of these fantastic trails.

The Cotswold Way

Hiking Trail
Map View
The Cotswold Way path Painswick Beacon
© AA World Travel Library / Alamy Stock Photo
Arguably one of the most well-known routes for walkers in the area and certainly the longest, the Cotswold Way stretches over 161km (100mi) through the region. Starting at Chipping Campden, the long-distance walking trail leads all the way to the beautiful city of Bath, taking in glorious countryside, picturesque villages and ancient landmarks. The full route takes from seven to 10 days to complete, so unless you’re a very keen hiker, you might prefer to dip in and out of the Cotswold Way on one of the many smaller routes on offer. When it’s time to rest, this thatched cottage in Chipping Campden is a picture-perfect place to stay and makes a great base for exploring the Cotswold villages. With two bedrooms accommodating up to four guests, the cottage also offers enclosed gardens with a sitting-out area where you can enjoy a glass of wine and unwind after your walk.

The Windrush Way

Hiking Trail
Map View
Autumn morning along the Windrush way in Bourton on the Water, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England
© Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo

At 23km (14mi), the Windrush Way is a great choice for those looking for a challenging walk that can be finished in a day. The circular route links the Cotswold Way at Winchcombe with the Oxfordshire Way at Bourton-on-the-Water. Follow the trail up over the Cotswold Hills, through the remains of “lost” medieval villages and along the peaceful River Windrush. This quiet walk is the perfect route for getting away from it all. Just make sure you pack a picnic to refuel midway! As for where to stay, the charming Chapel Cottage in Bourton-on-the-Water is ideally located right off the High Street. Dating back to the 17th century, the semi-detached cottage offers three bedrooms for up to five guests, with a pretty, gravelled garden and a stylish wrought-iron table and chairs for making the most of the morning sun.

The Cleeve Hill Ring

Hiking Trail
Map View
A view of Cheltenham Racecourse and Spa from Cleeve Hill, England
© Martin Bache / Alamy Stock Photo

This 10km (6.5mi) walk takes you up to the Cotswolds’ highest common, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views out to the Malverns and even across to Wales on a clear day. The area is famous for its limestone grassland, which is home to a huge number of birds, as well as rare plants and wildflowers. The old English name for the hill is Cleeve Cloud, and as it’s 330m (1,083ft) above sea level, you can understand why. If the weather is bad, it’s best to avoid this route, as the mist can set in very quickly. After a day of walking, relax and get cosy in this one-bedroom apartment within the grounds of a large house and wooded plot in the Cleeve Hill area. Perfect for a couple or a solo traveller, the self-contained apartment features a full kitchen and offers guests plenty of peace and privacy.

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  • The Diamond Way

    Hiking Trail
    Map View
    A public footpath (the Gustav Holst Way, the Wardens Way and the Diamond Way) in the valley of the River Windrush near the Cotswold village of Naunton
    © Cotswolds Photo Library Creative / Alamy Stock Photo

    Created by the Ramblers’ North Cotswold Group to celebrate its 60th Jubilee in 1995, this 105km (65 mi) walk is the perfect way to explore some of the prettiest villages and towns that the Cotswolds has to offer. The circular (or, to be more precise, diamond-shaped) route crosses undulating farmland and idyllic woodland, passing through sleepy hamlets of honey-hued stone and along meandering streams. There are shorter circular walks along the route that are between 5km and 11km (3mi and 7mi) long, but the whole Diamond Way will take a week to complete, including overnight stops. One option is this loft in a period coach house – a charming place to sleep within walking distance of the High Street in Moreton-in-Marsh. The light and airy open-plan apartment offers a super king bed (or two singles), a comfortable lounge and a kitchen area.

    The Leckhampton Loop

    Hill Station
    Map View
    The Devil's Chimney at Leckhampton Hill overlooking Cheltenham, England
    © Martin Bache / Alamy Stock Photo
    One of the many circular routes along the Cotswold Way, the Leckhampton Loop guides you through grasslands into peaceful, ancient woodlands and past an Iron Age hill fort. Magnificent views are on offer, especially when you reach Leckhampton Hill’s viewpoint, and the Devil’s Chimney is a Cotswolds landmark that is worth a short detour if you have time. At the top of Leckhampton Hill sits Shrublands Lodge, which is the place to stay if you want to wake up to spectacular views. Accommodating up to four guests, the two-bedroom lodge is 2km (1.5mi) from the popular Bath Road, which offers local amenities, pubs and restaurants.

    The Rollright Stones

    Archaeological site
    Map View
    England, Oxfordshire, The Rollright stones. A late Neolithic, bronze age, ceremonial Stone Circle, called 'The King's Men'. Daytime, summer, blue sky.
    © Malcolm Fairman / Alamy Stock Photo

    At just over 8km (5mi), this scenic route is a great introduction to the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Starting at the pretty village of Salford, the walk takes you along the valley and then up towards the mysterious Rollright Stones. This collection of three Bronze Age stone circles – the Whispering Knights, the King’s Men and the King Stone – was said to have been formed when a king and his men were turned to stone by a witch. Once you’ve explored the stones, follow the walk down through the charming hamlet of Little Rollright and back towards Salford, and go for a well-earned drink at the Salford Inn. Book into Stable Cottage for a luxurious yet quaint stay, perfect for a romantic getaway or peaceful long weekend. Tucked in at the end of Salford, the one-bedroom cottage has been newly refurbished and can sleep up to four people.

    These recommendations were updated on September 8, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.