The Cotswold Way - North Route

The Cotswold Way is one of the UKs managed National Trail footpaths, running 103 miles from the market town of Chipping Campden in the north of The Cotswolds, to the spa town of Bath in the South. The route crosses typical Cotswold countryside with a patchwork of fields portioned by traditional honey coloured dry stone walls across rolling hillside. The route stops at a plethora of traditional villages and small towns. This tour focusses on the northern part of the trail from Chipping Campden to Painswick, typified by the traditional Cotswold ‘chocolate box’ villages that the area is famous for. 

We are delighted to be working in association with 'England's Great Walking Trails'.

  • Grade:
  • Comfort: Mixed
  • Start/Finish: Chipping Campden / Painswick
  • Distance: Max: 12 miles / 19 km per day
  • Duration: 7 days, 6 nights and 5 days walking
  • Availability: January - December.
  • Altitude: Varied

Arrive Chipping Campden and stay overnight. Chipping Campden is a traditional market town, with preserved historic features dating back as far as the 14th century. It is also one of the earliest examples of deliberate town planning with a charter from King Henry II to set out a plan of the town. 

A: Chipping Campden to Stanton (10 miles / 16 km) 

After leaving the town, the trail takes you out onto the Cotswold escarpment with stunning views from Dover’s Hill. This is where the annual ‘Olimpick’ games were held in 1612, with leapfrog, wrestling and shin-kicking events happening each year. The walk continues across the fields to Broadway Tower and then through the village of Broadway with its historic connections with the Arts & Crafts movement. Stanton is built entirely of Cotswold stone and will be your rest stop for the night. 

Stay overnight in Stanton. Luggage will be transferred. Please note Stanton is a small village, so if no accommodation is available, the walk will be extended slightly to the next village of Stanway or Wood Stanway. 

B: Stanton to Winchcombe (8 miles / 12.5 km) 

After a steep climb up onto the escarpment, you will be rewarded with magnificent views across the Vale of Evesham towards the Malverns. Passing the Iron Age hill fort of Beckbury Camp, the Trail continues through farmland into the Cotswold town of Winchcombe. Stay overnight in this “Walkers are Welcome” certified town and explore its Neolithic, Roman and Medieval past. A highlight of the village is Sudeley Castle & Gardens, the only private castle in the UK, and final resting place of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s final wife. 

Stay overnight in Winchcombe. Luggage will be transferred. 

C: Winchcombe to Cheltenham (10 miles / 16 km + 2-3 miles into Cheltenham) 

Leave through the Sudeley Estate, climbing steadily to the ancient Neolithic long barrow of Belas Knap to Cleeve Hill – the highest point in The Cotswolds. The route continues across Cleeve Common with extensive views over Cheltenham to Gloucester and the distant Malvern Hills, before you continue onto Charlton Kings Common with its breath-taking views across Cheltenham and the Severn Vale. Follow the escarpment onto Leckhampton Hill – look out for the distinctive rock pillar known as the Devil’s Chimney - before turning off The Cotswold Way and descending into Cheltenham via The Gustav Holst Way. Cheltenham is the most complete Regency Town in the UK with extensive period architecture, a fantastic foodie scene and museums attributed to Cheltenham’s famous sons – Gustav Holst composer of The Planets and Edward Wilson, naturalist and fellow casualty on the Scott Antarctic expedition. 

Please note although only 10 miles along The Cotswold Way, there is an extra two-mile descent into Cheltenham and / or the option for a taxi transfer into Cheltenham instead.  

Stay overnight in Cheltenham. Luggage will be transferred. 

D: Cheltenham to Birdlip (12 miles / 19 km) 

The trail follows quiet tracks, lanes and paths into Crickley Hill Country Park, with its excellent viewpoints and information about the archaeological history, as well as a great café for a pitstop. There is evidence of historic settlements from as early as the Neolithic Period, as well as an Iron Age Hill Fort, indicating many periods of occupation. The trail then crosses the undulating grassland of Barrow Wake before heading into woodland to emerge at Birdlip.   

Stay overnight in Birdlip. Luggage will be transferred. 

E: Birdlip to Painswick (7 miles / 11 km) 

From Birdlip, the trail passes the remains of Great Witcombe Roman Villa, through magnificent beech woodlands and on to Coopers Hill, the site of the crazy annual cheese-rolling event every May which sees competitors chase a cheese wheel down the very steep slope. The route then emerges onto the common land of Painswick Beacon, where the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort can clearly be seen. The section ends in the picturesque town of Painswick, the mid-point of the Cotswold Way. Painswick recently featured in J.K.Rowling’s novel “A Casual Vacancy” and is also home to the Rococo Gardens which are worth a visit. 

Stay overnight in Painswick or depart. Luggage will be transferred. 

The nearest train station is Stroud or guests can return to Cheltenham via transfer and depart from Cheltenham train station as an alternative.  

Key details:

  • The routing is subject to accommodation availability and will run from A-E as above. Extra nights can be added in Chipping Campden, Cheltenham and Painswick if desired.
  • The daily walking distance for this tour is 7 miles / 11 km -  12 miles / 19 km per day
  • This tour runs for 7 days, 6 nights and 5 days walking, but can be extended or decreased by changing the daily distance. 
  • This walking tour is moderate

Tour highlights include:

• Gentle daily walking through idyllic English countryside, peppered with traditional pubs and charming tea rooms. 
• Sudeley Castle at Winchcombe, ( as seen in the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and also the final resting place of Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII.
• Cheltenham which is the most complete Regency town in the UK.
• The elegant Painswick Rococco Gardens

 

By Road:
London via M40 & A40 (app 2hr). Birmingham via A435 (app 1hr; 36 miles) or M40 (app 1hr; 50 miles). Bristol via M5 (app 1hr 15min; 65 miles)

By Ferry:

The sea ports of Dover, Portsmouth or Southampton will require a train journey to Cheltenham Spa/Moreton in Marsh and then a bus or transfer as outlined above, or with prior notice Compass can arrange parking for your own car.

By Rail: 
London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh (app 1hr 45min) then bus to Chipping Campden (app 45min) or taxi (app 15min; 10 miles).

Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-Upon-Avon (app 50min) then 7 min walk to bus stop then bus to Chipping Campden (25-45min).

Bristol Temple Meads to Moreton-in-Marsh via Didcot & Oxford (2hrs 30min) then bus to Chipping Campden (app 45min) or taxi (app 15min; 10 miles)

By Bus: 

A number of local buses and taxis run along the route. Compass Holidays will be more than happy to assist visitors in booking a taxi transfer. Local timetables can also be obtained and shared with visitors. The times are seasonal and vary throughout the year.
 

By Air:

The nearest airports for the trail are Birmingham and Bristol, however access is still easy from London. Trains to Cheltenham Spa or Moreton in Marsh provide the best start with the option of a bus to Chipping Campden or alternatively Compass Holidays can arrange a transfer for a small additional charge.

Included
  • Accommodation
  • Full English Breakfast
  • Luggage Transfers
  • Fully comprehensive tour pack with maps, available in English, German, French and Italian as standard. (Other languages available on request)
  • Access to a smartphone digital app which offers GPS tracking for the routes (downloaded prior to save on data costs)
  • Access to a 24/7 helpline in case of any emergencies
Excluded
  • Individual Travel to the UK
  • Lunch & Dinner 
  • Travel taxes
  • Entry Fees to Attractions

Arrive Chipping Campden and stay overnight. Chipping Campden is a traditional market town, with preserved historic features dating back as far as the 14th century. It is also one of the earliest examples of deliberate town planning with a charter from King Henry II to set out a plan of the town. 

A: Chipping Campden to Stanton (10 miles / 16 km) 

After leaving the town, the trail takes you out onto the Cotswold escarpment with stunning views from Dover’s Hill. This is where the annual ‘Olimpick’ games were held in 1612, with leapfrog, wrestling and shin-kicking events happening each year. The walk continues across the fields to Broadway Tower and then through the village of Broadway with its historic connections with the Arts & Crafts movement. Stanton is built entirely of Cotswold stone and will be your rest stop for the night. 

Stay overnight in Stanton. Luggage will be transferred. Please note Stanton is a small village, so if no accommodation is available, the walk will be extended slightly to the next village of Stanway or Wood Stanway. 

B: Stanton to Winchcombe (8 miles / 12.5 km) 

After a steep climb up onto the escarpment, you will be rewarded with magnificent views across the Vale of Evesham towards the Malverns. Passing the Iron Age hill fort of Beckbury Camp, the Trail continues through farmland into the Cotswold town of Winchcombe. Stay overnight in this “Walkers are Welcome” certified town and explore its Neolithic, Roman and Medieval past. A highlight of the village is Sudeley Castle & Gardens, the only private castle in the UK, and final resting place of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s final wife. 

Stay overnight in Winchcombe. Luggage will be transferred. 

C: Winchcombe to Cheltenham (10 miles / 16 km + 2-3 miles into Cheltenham) 

Leave through the Sudeley Estate, climbing steadily to the ancient Neolithic long barrow of Belas Knap to Cleeve Hill – the highest point in The Cotswolds. The route continues across Cleeve Common with extensive views over Cheltenham to Gloucester and the distant Malvern Hills, before you continue onto Charlton Kings Common with its breath-taking views across Cheltenham and the Severn Vale. Follow the escarpment onto Leckhampton Hill – look out for the distinctive rock pillar known as the Devil’s Chimney - before turning off The Cotswold Way and descending into Cheltenham via The Gustav Holst Way. Cheltenham is the most complete Regency Town in the UK with extensive period architecture, a fantastic foodie scene and museums attributed to Cheltenham’s famous sons – Gustav Holst composer of The Planets and Edward Wilson, naturalist and fellow casualty on the Scott Antarctic expedition. 

Please note although only 10 miles along The Cotswold Way, there is an extra two-mile descent into Cheltenham and / or the option for a taxi transfer into Cheltenham instead.  

Stay overnight in Cheltenham. Luggage will be transferred. 

D: Cheltenham to Birdlip (12 miles / 19 km) 

The trail follows quiet tracks, lanes and paths into Crickley Hill Country Park, with its excellent viewpoints and information about the archaeological history, as well as a great café for a pitstop. There is evidence of historic settlements from as early as the Neolithic Period, as well as an Iron Age Hill Fort, indicating many periods of occupation. The trail then crosses the undulating grassland of Barrow Wake before heading into woodland to emerge at Birdlip.   

Stay overnight in Birdlip. Luggage will be transferred. 

E: Birdlip to Painswick (7 miles / 11 km) 

From Birdlip, the trail passes the remains of Great Witcombe Roman Villa, through magnificent beech woodlands and on to Coopers Hill, the site of the crazy annual cheese-rolling event every May which sees competitors chase a cheese wheel down the very steep slope. The route then emerges onto the common land of Painswick Beacon, where the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort can clearly be seen. The section ends in the picturesque town of Painswick, the mid-point of the Cotswold Way. Painswick recently featured in J.K.Rowling’s novel “A Casual Vacancy” and is also home to the Rococo Gardens which are worth a visit. 

Stay overnight in Painswick or depart. Luggage will be transferred. 

The nearest train station is Stroud or guests can return to Cheltenham via transfer and depart from Cheltenham train station as an alternative.  

Key details:

  • The routing is subject to accommodation availability and will run from A-E as above. Extra nights can be added in Chipping Campden, Cheltenham and Painswick if desired.
  • The daily walking distance for this tour is 7 miles / 11 km -  12 miles / 19 km per day
  • This tour runs for 7 days, 6 nights and 5 days walking, but can be extended or decreased by changing the daily distance. 
  • This walking tour is moderate

Tour highlights include:

• Gentle daily walking through idyllic English countryside, peppered with traditional pubs and charming tea rooms. 
• Sudeley Castle at Winchcombe, ( as seen in the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and also the final resting place of Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII.
• Cheltenham which is the most complete Regency town in the UK.
• The elegant Painswick Rococco Gardens

 

By Road:
London via M40 & A40 (app 2hr). Birmingham via A435 (app 1hr; 36 miles) or M40 (app 1hr; 50 miles). Bristol via M5 (app 1hr 15min; 65 miles)

By Ferry:

The sea ports of Dover, Portsmouth or Southampton will require a train journey to Cheltenham Spa/Moreton in Marsh and then a bus or transfer as outlined above, or with prior notice Compass can arrange parking for your own car.

By Rail: 
London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh (app 1hr 45min) then bus to Chipping Campden (app 45min) or taxi (app 15min; 10 miles).

Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-Upon-Avon (app 50min) then 7 min walk to bus stop then bus to Chipping Campden (25-45min).

Bristol Temple Meads to Moreton-in-Marsh via Didcot & Oxford (2hrs 30min) then bus to Chipping Campden (app 45min) or taxi (app 15min; 10 miles)

By Bus: 

A number of local buses and taxis run along the route. Compass Holidays will be more than happy to assist visitors in booking a taxi transfer. Local timetables can also be obtained and shared with visitors. The times are seasonal and vary throughout the year.
 

By Air:

The nearest airports for the trail are Birmingham and Bristol, however access is still easy from London. Trains to Cheltenham Spa or Moreton in Marsh provide the best start with the option of a bus to Chipping Campden or alternatively Compass Holidays can arrange a transfer for a small additional charge.

Included
  • Accommodation
  • Full English Breakfast
  • Luggage Transfers
  • Fully comprehensive tour pack with maps, available in English, German, French and Italian as standard. (Other languages available on request)
  • Access to a smartphone digital app which offers GPS tracking for the routes (downloaded prior to save on data costs)
  • Access to a 24/7 helpline in case of any emergencies
Excluded
  • Individual Travel to the UK
  • Lunch & Dinner 
  • Travel taxes
  • Entry Fees to Attractions
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