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Walking in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds area is named for the limestone Cotswolds hills that run for 50 miles northeast from Bath. Historically this area was used for raising sheep and was made wealthy by the wool trade. The towns are beautiful; full of stone cottages and narrow lanes, surrounded by open fields and wooded areas. Most towns have a "wool church", a large church from the 1500s built by the rich wool merchants of the time. These are all well worth visiting.
The Cotswolds is an official Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), second only to the Lakes District in size. This puts in on the level of a National Park, but most of it is privately owned, not government owned. There building and farming restrictions within an AONB, to keep the area protected.
We love this area for the abundance of public walking trails, the beautiful villages and the beautiful countryside. If you want an outdoors vacation, this is a perfect place.
Southern Cotswolds Sapperton - Golden Valley trail, May 2000
For walking in the Cotswolds, we use the Goldeneye Complete Collection of Cotswolds Walks and both Pathfinder Guides for the Cotswolds. We sometimes use the AA 50 Walks guide, but it is not my favorite. This gives us lots of walks to choose from, but you will see that many walks are the same in these three guides (so you really only need one of them). See our Hiking Guidebooks page for links to Amazon for purchasing these book.
You will also find small local walking guidebooks in the local shops. There is no shortage of good books describing walks in the Cotswolds. Make sure you also have an Ordnance map for the area as backup when walking.
Our Favorite Southern Cotswolds Hikes
Slad and Dillay Valleys (Laurie Lee Country) from Goldeneye book.
Cranham - Sheepscombe from Goldeneye book. May 2000
Sapperton - Golden Valley from Goldeneye book. May 2000
Other Southern Cotswolds Walks
Bibury - Coln St Aldwyns from Goldeneye book, May 2000
Castle Combe from Goldeneye book, May 2000
Roman Villa - Chedworth Woods - Chedworth from Goldeneye book, May
This is a good walk to do after you have looked at the remains of the Roman Villa. We did a short version of this hike, against the recommended direction and it was hard to find our way. I recommend doing it as they suggest. Their shortcut version would have been very nice. The walk was very pretty and we had a good lunch in Chedworth, at The Seven Tums, a pub that has very good food.
Note from September 2004: We did the Pathfinder version of this hike and had a good lunch at The Seven Tums.
Our Favorite Northern Cotswolds Walks
Stanton - Stanway from the Goldeneye book, September 2004
Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey and Sudeley Castle from the Pathfinder
book (Cotswolds Walks #23), September 2004
Broadway - Broadway Tower from Goldeneye book, May 2000, September
From May 2000 notes: We didn't do the whole walk; we just went straight up the Cotswold Way to the Broadway Tower, then followed the rest of the hike back to Broadway. It was about 1 hour uphill to get to the tower. We had afternoon tea at the tearoom by the tower. On the walk from the tower, we got to walk through a field with two Scottish longhorn cows and their calves. There were delightful woods full of wildflowers on the way back. At the end of the walk we came upon a very old church just outside Broadway. The last few fields were full of rabbits. They hop off in all directions when they hear you coming.
Lunch: Our favorite tea room in Broadway is Tissanes, on the main street near the car park. Good cream tea, good cakes, good food also. Another good place for lunch or tea is the Small Talk Tea Shoppe, further down on the High Street.
Broadway is a very pretty Cotswolds town and is full of interesting shops (aimed at the tourist market). In 2000, I got a very nice Polartec vest at Landmark Walking and Country Wear on the main street. In 2004, I was still wearing that same vest, but went in a got myself a new one.
Other Northern Cotswolds Hikes
The Sacred Tombs of Belas Knap from the AA 50 Walks book, September
Stanton, Laverton and Buckland from the AA 50 Walks book, September
Chipping Campden to Broad Campden, from the Pathfinder book (More
Cotswolds Walks #2), September 2004
This time we had an excellent lunch at the Kings Arms hotel in Chipping Campden.
Guiting Wood from the Goldeneye book, September 2004
Deerhurst, Apperley and the River Severn, from the Pathfinder book
(More Cotswolds Walks #16), September 2004
Winchcombe - Little Farmcote - Sudeley from the Goldeneye book,
Cotswolds Hikes That We Did Not Like
Lower Slaughter/Upper Slaughter/Lower Harford from Goldeneye book,
May 2000. Not recommended.
Next time I would just walk from Lower Slaughter, through Upper Slaughter, all along the river, until you get to the busy road (at Swiss Farm House), then go back the way you came. This was a long hike; about 5 hours. There is a very good place for afternoon tea in Lower Slaughter; Washbourne Court Hotel, 17th century hotel beside the river. Tea is served outside on a patio.
Note from 2004: We went to Lower Slaughter and walked the one mile to Upper Slaughter and then back. Then tea at the Washbourne, but sitting inside this time because it was a cold day. It was lovely. They had a fire going and you sit on couches and big chairs around a coffee table instead of in a restaurant type setting.
The Rollright Stones from the Pathfinder book (Cotswolds Walks #27),
September 2004. Not recommended.
Chipping Campden and Dover's Hill from the Pathfinder book (Cotswolds
Walks #14), also in Goldeneye book, September 2004. Not recommended.
Magazine: Country Walking. A monthly magazine with great walking information. £3.20 (2004 price). www.emap.com
www.goldeneyemaps.com: The Goldeneye hiking guidebooks are very good.
www.iprow.co.uk: Institute of Public Right of Way. Information about footpaths.
www.walkingbritain.co.uk: Walking Britain
www.mapsguidesandmore.com: You can purchase my recommended walking guidebooks online at Maps, Guides and More. To find them, go to > Walking, Trekking & Hiking > United Kingdom > England. They also carry the Ordnance Survey maps.
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