The Cotswolds Way: Romans, Regency, Rural Splendour
For the loveliest of long weekends, begin in golden-hued Bath, where the Cotswold Way slides spectacularly to its southern end. This is the city where rolling hills meet ancient Romans, gorgeous Georgians, leafy waterways, thermal springs, Michelin stars and craft ales. It’s the perfect place to combine culture, sophistication, indulgence and the great outdoors, both in the city and beyond.
In Bath itself, you can time travel through the centuries along the city’s handsome streets: the remains of 2,000-year-old temples lie alongside a Gothic Abbey (where the first King of all England was crowned), medieval relics and elegant 18th-century crescents straight from Jane Austen’s pages. The refined air is enhanced by classy hotels, an eclectic range of restaurants and a host of independent shops and cafes. But this is a city where Mother Nature makes her presence felt too: from the centre, you’ll see slopes you can climb, waterways you can paddle, lanes and towpaths that can you can pedal along, outskirts you can float above… Then, after a day or two centred in Bath, you can trace the escarpment north to picture-book Painswick – ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’ – to experience the region at its bucolic best. Hop between honey-stone villages, refuel in country pubs and explore mile upon mile of wonderful walking trails
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
Walks from 6km to 16km
Easy / Moderate
Rolling Countryside / Connecting Villages & Towns / City Exploring
History / Food & Drink
Activities & Experiences
Walking / Cycling / Water Fun / Heritage / Wellness
The Cotswold Way: Romans, Regency, Rural Splendour
Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break in the southern Cotswolds. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information. To save this itinerary to view later, use the Save to My Rucksack button at the top of the page.
This three-day dip into the Cotswolds is full of possibilities. Spend time in beautiful Bath, mixing UNESCO-listed sites, superb walking and a range of adventures on the doorstep. Then swap city life for picturesque Painswick, for a true taste of Cotswold countryside living.
Day 1 Welcome to Bath
Day 2 Bath & Beyond
Day 3 Painswick, Queen of the Cotswolds
Bath has a variety of options, from hotels and hostels to family-run B&Bs.
- Royal Crescent Hotel – Bath’s most prestigious address, occupying the centre of its namesake curve.
- Bath Priory – Luxurious retreat with gorgeous gardens and an acclaimed restaurant.
- Gainsborough Bath Spa – Stylish hotel with pools fed by the city’s natural hot springs.
- The Oakhouse – A cosy, tree-tucked cabin, right on the Cotswold Way.
- Courtyard Apartment – Characterful flat, in a fine old house where Jane Austen once lived.
Painswick has some lovely accommodation choices, plus B&Bs, glampsites and hotels nearby.
- Falcon Inn – A traditional 16th-century inn with rooms.
- The Painswick – Boutique-chic Cotswold bolthole.
- Court House Manor – Luxury Painswick B&B set within a 15th-century house once patronised by King Charles I.
- Hatton Court Hotel – Stylish hotel near Gloucester.
- Hawkwood College B&B – Peaceful B&B, a short drive from Stroud, set with sustainably managed grounds.
- Hammonds Farm – B&B nestled in 100 grassy acres near Stroud, where guests can wander with the resident
Food & Drink
Welcome to the delicious West Country. Bath has many excellent independent cafes and restaurants, excelling in everything from cream teas and fine dining to inventive veggie and pop-up Vietnamese. Nearby Bristol offers the world on a plate, not least several unmissable Italian ice cream shops. Painswick has pubs, restaurants and a teashop, with plenty of country pubs tucked nearby.
- Pump Room – Afternoon teas are served in the grand Regency salon; Bath’s famed mineral waters can be tasted too.
- Café Lucca – Light-filled cafe serving fresh food in The Loft concept shop.
- Wild Café – Quality indie hang-out serving brilliant breakfasts, brunches and lunches.
- Society Cafe – Coffee for connoisseurs.
- Olive Tree – Fine modern-British dining at the classy Queensbury Hotel.
- Sotto Sotto – Simple-done-well cellar-tucked Italian.
- Savouring Bath – Guided foodie tours, introducing the best local food and drink producers.
- Dyrham Park – The onsite teashops serves coffee and cakes by the 17th-century country house and deer park.
- Falcon Inn – A 16th-century hostelry serving homecooked food and real ales.
- The Oak – Pub in the heart of Painswick, with real ales and open fires.
- The Woolpack – Laurie Lee’s favoured boozer, in Slad.
- Edgemoor Inn – Local pub and restaurant in the village of Edge, overlooking the Painswick Valley.
- Rococo Garden Cafe – Coach House turned cafe at the entrance to the gardens, open to all.
There’s so much adventure potential in the southern Cotswolds. Walking possibilities are almost endless, while more offbeat fun is available too.
- Bath Skyline, 10km – Super circuit with big city views.
- Cotswolds Circulars No 12: Journey’s End – The Walk Into Bath, 10km – The grand finale of the Cotswold Way.
- Corsham Heritage Trails, from 6km to 16km – Eight routes centre in the handsome market town.
- Laurie Lee Wildlife Walk, Slad, 10km – Lee’s poems are set in glass on posts along the walk.
- Cotswold Circulars No 7: Cranham, Coopers and the Beechwoods, 6.5km – Includes Coopers Hill, of cheese-rolling fame.
- For more walks in the region, visit the Cotswolds AONB and Bathscape.
- Original Wild, Bath – Go stand-up paddleboarding on the Avon.
- Hot-air ballooning, Bath – Float above the city; flights run at sunrise and sunset.
- Cotswold Alpaca Walking, near Stroud – Stroll the Cotswolds with a woolly camelid
For further walking inspiration visit The Outdoor Guide.
The hills of the southern Cotswolds are soaked in history. Visit ancient sites, handsome country houses, art galleries and more.
- Roman Baths – Excellent museum exploring the 2,000-year old baths and temples.
- Thermae Bath Spa – Britain’s only natural thermal spa, with state-of-the-art spa facilities.
- Bath Walking Tours – Guided strolls around the city.
- Jane Austen Centre – All things Austen; includes interactive exhibits and a Regency Tea Room.
- Herschel Museum of Astronomy – Museum set in the house of William Herschel, who discovered Uranus in 1781.
- Victoria Art Gallery – A public gallery housing a collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.
- The Holburne – Museum in a Grade I listed mansion, with a lovely cafe, accessible without entering the museum.
- Dyrham Park – A glorious 17th-century country house and deer park, part of the National Trust.
- Bristol – Lively, cosmopolitan city; numerous festivals and attractions.
- SS Great Britain, Bristol – Brunel’s great ocean liner, transformed into an award-winning museum.
- Richmond Painswick – Relaxing spa in the Cotswolds.
- Rococo Garden – Fanciful and frivolous 18th-century pleasure garden near Painswick.
- Woodchester Mansion – Unfinished Gothic Revival masterpiece, home to a colony of horseshoe bats, set in extensive parkland.
- Woodchester Valley Vineyard – Cotswold winery, open for tours and tastings.
Though the southern Cotswolds are somewhat undulating – providing white-knuckle fun for keen riders – there are flatter options for novices too.
- Cotswolds Mountain Biking – Mountain biking and e-mountain biking trips off-road and offbeat.
- Wild Carrot guided cycling and coffee stop, Chavenage – Rural road cycles.
- Bristol Bath Cycle Path – Disused railway turned flat, traffic-free bike path.
- Kennet & Avon Canal – Bucolic towpath, great for easy rides.
Great Western Railways runs regular services from Paddington and Bristol to Bath. Taxis are bookable at Bath.
Driving is the easiest way to reach Painswick. A car is necessary for all local trips. There are no direct buses.
Most walks around Bath and Painswick are moderate to strenuous as the territory is hilly. The canal walks are flat and easy. Paths may become muddy. Walking boots are suggested but not necessary, especially during the summer months.
We advise that you check opening times and booking restrictions before travelling.
Please check out these links for latest advice when in the countryside
To access the map please click here: Interactive Map
Maps, Guidebooks & Merchandise
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.