The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales. The Cotswolds covers some 800 square miles of gorgeous English landscape and spreads into 5 counties (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire).
The Cotswold Way itself runs along the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills, from the market town of Chipping Campden in the north to the World Heritage City of Bath in the south. The whole Cotswolds Way is steeped in history, and this National Trail gives you the opportunity to experience the very best of it. Great British Walks work hard to provide you with fabulous itinerary choices. The Cotswold Way can be walked in either direction, and can also be walked in sections. Our description begins in Chipping Campden, a fine market town which dates back to medieval times. Your walking holiday begins in this first town, full of fine architecture, stone mullioned windows, and high gables.
Your first walking day passes by Broadway Tower, a magnificent folly built around 1800. William Morris was known to have stayed here. Along the route between Broadway and Woodstanway is Snowshill Manor now in the care of the National Trust. Further along, Stanway House (17th century) originally belonged to the manor of Tewkesbury. The restored 18th century water gardens, typical of Capability Brown, but probably designed by Charles Bridgeman.
Near Winchcombe, visit the only standing remains of Hailes Abbey. A 13th century Cistercian house. One of the last in England to be built. Whilst walking the Cotswold Way, look out for the Cotswold Lion! This is not an actual lion, but a rare breed of sheep. It was originally bred for its long fleece.
For wild flower enthusiasts Cleeve Hill is particularly noted for its fine display and rich summer covering of harebells. The flowers bring with them the butterflies; Chalk hill Blues and Fritillaries, Meadow Browns and Cabbage Whites. Bird life is plentiful, the meadow pipit may not be the most beautiful to look at, but its song is a welcome accompaniment on a long walk. A keen eye will spot the skylark, whilst kestrels and buzzards dance on the thermals. Further along the walk on the edge of Leckhampton Hill is the Devils chimney. A reminder of quarrying days gone by.
Walking the Cotswold Way is a walk through English history. A number of historical sites including several Neolithic burial mounds, numerous hill forts and prehistoric barrows, magnificent churches and mansion houses. The earthworks of Crickley Hill fort, where archaeologists estimate its age as 4000 BC.
The Cotswold Way National Trail explores one glorious village after another. There are the grotesque gargoyles of Winchcombe church, rose covered cottages in Stanton, the thatched cricket pavilion in Stanway and the Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham.
The grand finale is your arrival in Bath, where you can still see the Roman Baths and museum. A perfect location to take an extra day. Take in the sights of the Royal Crescent, or hike up to the Bath Skyline and admire the views.
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