Seven of the Best Country Walks in the Cotswolds

Get in touch with the great outdoors on some of the Cotswold’s best walking routes. Guiding you between Chipping Norton to Bath, we’ve picked out scenic rambles past historical ruins and more challenging country hikes that give you a new perspective on a well-known city. Grab your walking boots.

We've trodden the length and breadth of the Cotswolds, from Chipping Norton to Bath, and picked out the best country walks on offer. Whether you're in the market for Roman ruins, neolithic stone circles, carpets of billowing wildflowers or a 360-degree vista looking out over some of Britain's most famous parkland, the Cotswolds has you something to make you a happy hiker. Stuff your rucksack with snacks, grab a water bottle (reusable, please) and shake out lockdown legs on one of these scenic walks.

The great outdoors: seven of the best country walks in the Cotswolds, plus directions

Marshfield to Cold Ashton Circular Walk


Distance: 11km

Start by walking up Weir Lane. Eventually, you'll notice a slight uphill gradient as the street gives way to Beek's Lane. Once you reach a brook (you'll know it's the right one as the lane comes to an end), take the footpath to your right. Climb over stiles - watch out for cattle - until you hit Leigh Lane. The footpath bears right again here. Continue through woodlands and, after a few kilometres, you'll find yourself in Cold Ashton. Rejoin the footpath after pootling about the village and carry on straight through the valley. You'll pass an old farm building to your left and, eventually, the stream will join you on your right. When you reach Green Lane, turn left towards Marshfield High Street. In no time, you'll be back where you started. Done.

Lower Woods Nature Reserve


Distance: as long or short as you like

In the height of summer, the largely shaded paths of this nature reserve cut through rippling blankets of wildflowers, making it a real good'un for those freakishly hot days when you want to simply get outdoors. There's little point in us instructing you exactly where to walk. As you might expect, this spot is riven with paths which hop over streams and pass through leafy thickets. From our experience, it's particularly popular with dogs.

Castle Combe and Nettleton Mill Circular Walk


Distance: 6km

Park up in the tantalisingly twee village of Castle Combe. Follow The Street (yes, real name) up to the entrance to Becker's Wood. Find the public footpath that leads from here through Parsonage Wood. Stick to the path until you reach Long Dean, then bear right and follow the stream towards Common Hill Plantation. Again, bear right and follow a hedge-rimmed road until it takes a sharp left, at which point you'll notice a footpath open up on your right beside the stream. After a kilometre, you'll cross a bridge over Broadmead Brook and find yourself at Deverell's Plantation. The footpath continues back over the brook, and then over the By Brook (again, real name) before depositing you back in Castle Combe. That's just shy of 6km on your pedometer.

A Different Perspective on Bath


Distance: 9km

This hike is no walk in the park, but it's not so difficult that you'll require walking poles. Do, however, bring snacks. Start by heading up to Sham Castle. Once up on the ridge, bear left and follow the signposted footpaths, making sure that you keep the city to your right at all times. If you lose sight of Bath's cappuccino-coloured buildings, you've gone wrong and it's time to recalibrate. Follow it around Monkton Combe. Claverton will be signposted to your left, but stay up on the ridge and continue bearing right. You'll have to cross the slightly busy Claverton Down Road, but carry on towards Wessex Water, taking the right turn towards Prior Park as and when you see it signposted. Instead of heading into Prior Park (by all means, do check out its landscape garden), follow signs towards Bath Skyline. Pause here for snacks before heading towards Widcombe and Sham Castle just beyond.

Chedworth’s Roman Villa


Distance: 7km

We're using this ancient monument as a jumping-off point for a stroll through the looming, millennia-old woodlands nearby. We recommend taking the Monarch's Way from Chedworth village up to the villa and along the River Coln. Continue onwards until you reach a bridge. Either cross it and follow footpaths back towards Chedworth or loop back through the woods until the villa remains re-emerge through the copse.

Old Sodbury and Little Sodbury

South Gloucestershire

Distance: 5km

Yes. Har har, very funny. This walk is a round trip of the Sodburys, two charming but unfortunately named villages speckled with historical landmarks, not far from Bristol. It starts with a sharp ascent up to Old Sodbury's St John's Church, from which you'll get a juicy vista out across rural South Gloucestershire. From there, continue north on the Cotswold Way until you reach a plateau marked by an Iron Age hillfort. Continue towards Little Sodbury - who is no less 'grammable than her older sibling - before turning back on yourself and taking the footpath which bears left, towards Sodbury Camp. About half an hour later you'll hit a road junction with Old Sodbury Church of England Primary School on the corner. Bear right and, in no time, you'll find yourself back where you started.

Rollright Stones Walk


Distance: 8km

This route takes you along Shakespeare's Way, one of the Cotswolds' longest footpaths, and drops you off at Rollright Stones, a historical stone formation whose origins remain a mystery. Chipping Norton is your starting point. Once you've popped into its 17th-century almshouses and its 12th-century church, find Shakespeare's Way and set forth for Salford. It's about 5km to the stones. Either head back from whence you came or follow signs to Brighthill Farm to make it a circular route.

A view across Regent's Canal
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