This five-day hike tackles the central section of the magical Cotswold Way National Trail, starting in the historic wool town of Painswick and crossing the steep Cotswolds slope and endless miles of rolling countryside before finishing 38 miles/61km later in the beautiful village of Tormarton.
The Cotswold Way offers over 100 miles of magical walking, with long-distance views and journeys through picturesque villages and past ancient sites. The full National Trail runs from Chipping Campden to Bath and can take up to 10 days to walk. So we’ve put together a shortened five-day itinerary covering 38 miles/61 km, skipping the start and finish and instead focusing on the glorious central stages of the Cotswold Way.
You’ll begin in beautiful Painswick before following the steep western edge of the Cotswold Escarpment, part of the limestone belt that stretches from England’s south coast to the North Sea. You’ll enjoy stunning views high above Severn Valley with Wales beyond, before dropping down into ancient villages and market towns. To the east the land falls away towards the tranquil meanders of the River Thames, helping frame the Cotswolds as England’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is a landscape of rural charm, fascinating history, and mellow tranquility.
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
Gentle / Moderate
History / Food & Drink
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Anyone with a good level of fitness can walk this shortened 38 miles/61km section of Cotswold Way, but visitors are often surprised by the steepness of some climbs. This day-by-day guide breaks down what to expect on each day, and picks out the unique highlights of each section of the route.
The Cotswolds is incredibly popular with tourists from all over the world, so while there are many options for accommodation, they tend to book up quickly along the Cotswold Way. You’ll find pubs, hotels, B&Bs, cottages, campsites, and hostels along the trail catering to all tastes and budgets, so plan carefully and try to book somewhere as close to the start and finish of each day as possible.
Cotswold Way is a walking paradise, with picture-perfect stone villages, rolling hills, country pubs, green fields, lazy rivers, and beautiful woodland to explore every step of the way. Each stage of this itinerary is designed to be walked at a leisurely pace and the trail is simple to follow, so it’s an ideal route for anyone with a good fitness level. Visit in spring for carpets of bluebells, summer for long days of glorious sunshine, autumn for spectacular color explosions in the trees, and winter for frosty sunrises and roaring fires in the pubs. Don’t underestimate the steep climbs though, with some days totaling more than 1,000 feet of ups and downs.
The Cotswolds is a classic English ‘foodie’ destination, with fantastic cafes, gastro pubs, traditional country inns, bakeries, farm shops, farmers’ markets, and the occasional Michelin-starred restaurant cropping up in most towns and villages. Local culinary favorites include Single Gloucester Cheese, Gloucester Old Spot Pork, Tewkesbury mustard, Bibury trout, Stinking Bishop cheese, Hobbs House bread, Cotswolds dry gin and Cotswolds single malt whiskey.
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.
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