Best walks with pubs in the Cotswolds

Places to Go

Best walks with pubs in the Cotswolds

With its gentle bucolic landscapes, thatched cottages, and rich golden stone, the Cotswolds is idyllic. If your legs are craving a walk and your heart is hankering for classic scenes of quaint English countryside, you won’t leave disappointed.

One of the country’s incredible National Landscapes (formerly known as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the Cotswolds spreads out over five counties, including Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, and each area offers its own unique beauty and pastoral charm.

While each area boasts quintessential Cotswolds features, like rolling hills and honey-hued stone, they each have their own character too, which is best explored on foot as the whole region is scattered with trails, including the iconic 102-mile Cotswold Way.

Not only have we rounded up the best walks the area has to offer, we’ve chosen routes that feature a cracking pub too! Because while a walk is a glorious thing on its own, it reaches the next level when it’s wrapped up with a pint of something excellent and a hearty plate of home cooked fare. The Cotswolds is also home to some of the area's best Michelin star restaurants, so you can really up your pub stop! 

So, with that in mind, here are our favourite walks with pubs in the Cotswolds…

 

Bourton-on-the-Water circular

Beautiful trees hanging over the river and a stone bridge at Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds

Best for: Cotswolds village life

• Distance: 10 miles

• Time: 4.5 hours

• Difficulty: Moderate

• Starts/ends: Bourton-on-the-Water war memorial

• Parking: Free parking on High Street

• Landmarks: Warden's Way, River Windrush

• Pub: The Black Horse Inn

The walk begins in 'The Venice of the Cotswolds', a nickname afforded to the oh-so-pretty Bourton-on-the-Water thanks to its five stone bridges, which were built between 1654 and 1911.

To start the walk, head for the war memorial in Bourton-on-the-Water. Head out of the village, facing the rolling valleys toward Lower Slaughter, before making your way to Upper Slaughter. It's one of England's thirteen 'doubly thankful' villages, which means every civilian who went to both wars - 25 in WW1 and 36 in WW2 - returned home safely afterward.

From here you’ll track along some of the Warden's Way, first created in the 1980s by Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. You'll walk in the direction of Naunton, and at the point you arrive you may have worked up a decent appetite. The Black Horse Inn, which has been welcoming weary travellers through its doors since the 1870s, is a fine candidate whatever the weather. And with its roaring fire, it's just as enjoyable to visit in your thermals during a winter walk as it is on a sun-soaked summer’s day. If you're visiting on a Sunday, you must try out the Sunday roast. The lamb is said to be legendary!

Once you've had your fill, track the River Windrush back, finding yourself where you started in Bourton-on-the-Water.

If you'd like to make a day of it, the village is home to a collection of vintage and toy cars at the Cotswold Motoring Museum or take a look at The Model Village, a 1930s replica of the village. Alternatively, take a trip to Birdland and meet parrots, king penguins, and owls.

 

Painswick to Slad circular

A path leading over the hills around Painswick in the Cotswolds

Best for: Literary legends

• Distance: 7 miles

• Time: 3 - 4 miles

• Difficulty: Moderate

• Starts/ends: Painswick

• Parking: Stamages Lane car park

• Landmarks: St Mary's Church, Laurie Lee landscape

• Pub: The Woolpack Inn

Take this circular loop from Painswick to the village of Slad, walking among the countryside that inspired local author Laurie Lee. The walk encompasses the Painswick valley, the small hamlet of Paradise, and the stunning Slad valley.

The walk begins at the renowned St Mary's Church on the corner of New Street and Victoria Street. This medieval church is set in two acres of churchyard and is said to be home to 99 yew trees. Legend goes if a 100th were to be planted, the Devil would destroy it. We challenge you to have a go at counting!

From here, walk down New Street past the Falcon Inn and go down Stamages Lanes. The route then encompasses footpaths, gravel tracks, fields and foot bridges.

After a while you’ll arrive at Slad Road, the perfect time to stop for a drink and a bite to eat because Laurie Lee's local - The Woolpack Inn - is just 500m up the road. This traditional 17th-century pub serves no nonsense, hearty pub food with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients. In summer sit out on the attractive garden terrace and in the winter snuggle up next to the wood burner.

Fuelled up on home cooked fare and real ale, you can head through Slad Valley back to Painswick. Time to spare? Pop into the local Rococo Garden, the UK's only surviving Rococo Garden. It was designed in the 1740s and today the beautiful gardens feature whimsical paths, surprise follies, and scenic viewpoints aplenty. Families are well looked after here with a fantastic kids play area, seasonal nature trails, and even theatre shows, making it one of the best places to visit in the Cotswolds.

 

Coln St Aldwyns to Bibury circular

A bridge crossing a river next to the beautiful, ivy-covered pub The Swan in Bibury in the Cotswolds

Best for: Picture perfect views

• Distance: 6 miles

• Time: 3 hours

• Difficulty: Easy

• Starts/ends: Coln St Aldwyns

• Parking: Street parking

• Landmarks: Arlington Row

• Pub: The Catherine Wheel

Described by William Morris as the most beautiful village in England, Bibury is the very definition of picture-perfect. It's home to Arlington Row, an exceptionally pretty row of buildings built in the 14th century as a wool store and later transformed into weavers’ cottages.

Bibury is a popular spot with visitors and can fill up quickly in the summer months. For a quieter and more leisurely stroll, Coln St Aldwyns is the perfect place to both park and walk during your visit.

The walk starts in Coln St Aldwyns and passes by a historic church before taking you along part of the Palladian Way, a long-distance track. From there you'll head into Bibury where you'll spot Arlington Row, grand Bibury Court, and the River Coln.

Once you reach Bibury, it's surely time for lunch. Our pub pick? The Catherine Wheel. The 15th-century inn features original ship timber beams and pictures of Old Bibury. When the sun is out, there's also a large pub garden perfect for catching some rays while you enjoy a pint of real ale. You can also stop by The Swan for a serene waterside setting and oodles of character. Once you’ve had your fill of Bibury, you’ll take the circular loop back to Coln St Aldwyns.

 

Winchcombe to Cleeve Hill

Looking across rolling hills at the pretty village of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds

Best for: Historic monuments

• Distance: 5.5 miles

• Time: 2 hours

• Difficulty: Moderate

• Starts/ends: Winchcombe/Cleeve Hill

• Parking: Back Lane car park

• Landmarks: Sudeley Castle, Belas Knap burial ground

• Pub: The Lion Inn

If you're looking for a walk that packs a punch, look no further. In under 6 miles you'll see the Cotswold's highest point, its most regal castle, and one of its oldest monuments.

The walk starts in Winchcombe, a market town featuring timbered inns, centuries-old architecture, and independent shops aplenty. From here you'll take the renowned Cotswolds Way south, making sure to stop to soak in the grandeur of the 15th-century Sudeley Castle and its commanding grounds.

As you continue, you'll go even further back in time as you pass the Belas Knap burial grounds. This neolithic, chambered long barrow features a false entrance and side chambers. It was first excavated in 1863 and again in 1865, where the remains of 31 people were found. Since then, the site has been restored.

Your walk wraps up with an ascent up Cleeve Hill, which at 330m is the highest point in both the Cotswolds hill range and of the county of Gloucestershire at large. From here you'll be able to spot Cheltenham's famous racecourse and even out to Gloucester's cathedral.

If you don't fancy the return walk, head down into the village of Cleeve Hill, where you can catch a bus back to Winchcombe. From here, head to The Lion Inn, a restored 15th-century coaching inn boasting plenty of charm and character. In the summer enjoy a pint of Butcombe in the sunny pub garden, or in winter pick a spot next to the open fire and watch the world go by outside.

After refuelling, why not head back to Sudeley Castle for a proper mooch about? Alternatively, Winchcombe Museum is a great spot to explore 2,000 years of local history.

 

Broadway loop

A bird's eye view of Broadway Tower in autumn, with the rolling Cotswolds countryside surrounding it

Best for: Far-reaching views

• Distance: 4 miles

• Time: 3 hours

• Difficulty: Moderate

• Starts/ends: Broadway High Street

• Parking: Three car parks in Broadway

• Landmarks: Broadway Tower, Red Deer, St Eadburgha's church

• Pub: The Crown & Trumpet Inn

Nestled into the base of the Worcestershire hills, Broadway, as the name suggests, is characterised best by its vast, tree-lined street packed with boutiques, fine restaurants, and upscale hotels. If you're looking for an enjoyable stroll in this fine corner of England, look no further.

Starting at the war memorial at the bottom of the High Street, head east until you reach a sign towards the activity park and picnic area. Continue through the field, over the footbridge, and through more fields and kissing gates.

You'll turn left opposite St Eadburgha's Church (which dates back to the 11th century), before following the track up a hill for around half a mile until you reach Rookery Farm, where you’ll veer left to reach the tower.

Head up towards this iconic 18th-century folly, which today is known as the Cotswold's highest castle. Walk up to the rooftop viewing platform and enjoy views across the Severn Vale into Wales - it's said that on a clear day you can see up to 16 counties! If you're lucky, you might even spot the resident herd of red deer, which is made up of one stag (Lancelot) and about eighteen hinds.

To continue your walk, follow the Cotswolds Way downhill for a mile, eventually ending up back on the High Street.

Here you'll surely need refreshment, so head to The Crown & Trumpet Inn, a stunning, 17th-century inn crafted out of traditional Cotswold stone. In summer sit outside and soak up the convivial town atmosphere, or nab a spot next to the open fire and order yourself a hot toddy in the cooler months.

Back in Broadway, spend your time exploring the pretty beauty spot. The avenue is lined with golden Cotswold stone buildings. One of the most splendid is the ex-manor house, now known as The Lygon Arms Hotel, which has hosted both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. Pop in for a drink and soak up the history.

 

 

If an idyllic walk and a pint of real ale in a picture-perfect inn sounds like your idea of a good time, you’ll love the Cotswolds. Browse our beautiful Cotswolds holiday cottages and start planning your next adventure now.

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