Places to Go

The best circular walks in the Cotswolds

When you are looking to book a holiday in the Cotswolds, we imagine you’re looking for two key ingredients: a charming country cottage and idyllic walks right from the doorstep (and perhaps a cosy pub during or at the end of the walk too!). And what better way to enjoy a countryside stomp than to loop around, ending back where you started, keeping things delightfully simple.

A wander through the picturesque Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be immensely rewarding, and we’re not just talking about the obligatory pub stop at the end! You cannot go too far wrong with walking routes in the area. Many of the Cotswolds circular walking routes join the renowned Cotswold Way for sections. These rural constitutionals can take you past Iron Age remains, local farms, ancient or Arts and Crafts churches, unspoiled woodland, stone circles, and old mills.

The views are spectacular too. Take in breathtaking panoramic views of the Cotswolds landscapes at the highest points and make sure to look out for unusual wildlife along the way. Squint to see if you can spot Wales in the distance and of course cosy up in the region’s finest watering holes as a reward at the end.

Whether you fancy an active, relaxed or romantic wander through the honey-toned villages and rolling green hills of the Cotswolds, you can count on this guide to show you the way.

                                                                                               

Circular walks in the Cotswolds

Broadway and the TowerBroadway Tower, Cotswolds

Best for: Breathtaking, far reaching views

-   Distance: 4 miles

-   Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts

-   Starts/ends: Broadway War Memorial, High Street

-   Parking: Car parks on Leamington Road and Church Close

-   Landmarks: St Eadburgha’s church, Broadway Tower

One of the most popular Cotswold Way circular walks, the loop taking in this picturesque village and Broadway Tower is a moderate walk. Although with a few steep uphill sections, it’s perfect for working off your holiday food and wine consumption – no judgment here!

You’ll begin the route in the High Street before passing St Eadburgha’s church along the track, which dates from the 12th century. As for Broadway Tower, it dates from 1794 and has been both a nuclear shelter and a cosy artist’s haven since then. 

You can climb the tower – the Cotswolds’ second highest spot – and there’s a cafe on site for that essential caffeine fix. When the weather’s fine and the sky is clear, make sure you capture those breathtaking views over 13 counties at the summit.

The easier downhill section involves joining the Cotswold Way, where you may be lucky enough to spy grazing deer. Back in Broadway High Street, can you resist popping into the characterful Swan Pub & Restaurant for a well-deserved drink and tasty pub food?

 

Stanton, Snowshill and the EdgeThe Cotswolds

Best for: Postcard pretty Cotswolds villages

-   Distance: 6 miles

-   Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts

-   Starts/ends: Eastern end of High Street

-   Parking: Cricket ground car park

-   Landmarks: Shenbarrow Hill, Littleworth Woods

Commencing in Stanton, another of the best circular walks in the Cotswolds takes in some of the area’s most photogenic villages: capturing Insta-worthy moments on camera is guaranteed on this stroll.

The walk commences as you trade the honey stone and half-timbered structures for the Cotswold Way, hiking up Shenberrow Hill. 

Leaving the Way, take a stomp through serene Littleworth Woods as you ascend towards Snowshill. As well as Snowshill Manor and its vast and fascinating collection of objets d'art, the snug Snowshill Arms makes another great stopping-off point.

A woodland route takes you back to the Cotswold Way, where views over the Severn Vale from the ‘edge’ are all yours before reaching Stanton, home to yet another appealing bolthole, the cosy Mount Inn.

 

The Selsley Circuit, King’s StanleySelsley, Cotswolds

Best for: Discovering Iron Age and industrial heritage

-   Distance: 5 miles

-   Time: 3 hours

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts

-   Starts/ends: King’s Head pub

-   Parking: Car park behind King’s Head

-   Landmarks: Iron Age burial mound, Selsley church, Ebley and Stanley Mills

Taking in a canal known as the Stroudwater Navigation, this route is a little different from your average Cotswolds circular promenade. The Selsley Circuit takes in a pair of old mills as well as an Iron Age long barrow, plust there’s stunning scenery, and an Arts and Crafts style church to gawp at as you go.

Beginning in King’s Stanley, you’ll ascend the Cotswold Way to Selsley Common, an elevated limestone grassland site offering superlative views over the Severn Vale.

After The Toots burial mound, the welcome descent takes you past All Saints, the Selsley church that’s a must for fans of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Finally, a laid-back canalside stroll will take you back to the King’s Head pub in King’s Stanley, via Ebley and Stanley Mills. Time for a well-deserved tipple and a hearty meal.

 

Windrush Way, WinchcombeBourton-on-the-Water, Cotswolds

Best for: A bracing hike in the hills

-   Distance: 13.5 miles

-   Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts

-   Starts/ends: Abbey Terrace War Memorial

-   Parking: Car parks on Bull Lane and Back Lane

-   Landmarks: Sudeley Castle, Westfield House

This pretty Cotswolds walk is do-able in a day and is named for the River Windrush that runs through some of the area’s most popular places like Bourton-on-the-Water.

Commencing in Winchcombe, the Windrush Way circular walk takes you through the Cotswold Hills, where the remnants of medieval settlements dotting the hillside will mean you barely even notice the steeper ascents.

En route you can also catch a glimpse of jaw-dropping Sudeley Castle and imposing Westfield House, as well as enjoying a peaceful stroll through placid Gazeley Wood.

In Winchcombe, you’re spoilt for choice. You can refuel at a Michelin recommended Cotswolds eatery 5 North Street, as well as at the convivial local inns. If you can’t indulge after a 13 mile walk, when can you!

 

Cotswolds-Korea Friendship TrailStinchcombe Hill, Cotswolds

Best for: Embracing international harmony

-   Distance: 3.5 miles (or hill only, 3 miles)

-   Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (or hill only, 1.5 to 2 hours)

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts (varies by route)

-   Starts/ends: Stinchcombe Hill car park (or corner of Hill Road and May Lane)

-   Parking: Stinchcombe Hill car park (or Hill Road car park)

-   Landmarks: Stinchcombe Hill

 

This circular route is set apart by the fact that it’s a ‘friendship walk’. It is the result of a collaboration between the Jeju OlleTrail in South Korea and the Cotswolds.

The route has been selected due to the similarities shared by the trails in England and on Jeju Island, a UNESCO listed site off the coast of South Korea. Walkers can experience some of the Cotswold Way’s finest offerings while learning about life on an island located some 5,000 miles away in Asia. Sounds far more fascinating than the average school day to us!

Your walk will circumnavigate Stinchcombe Hill, passing through tranquil woodland and taking in spectacular views along the way. Discover a touch of Asian culture in the heart of the English countryside.

 

The Cleeve Hill Common RingCleeve Common Hill, Cotswolds

Best for: Spotting unusual flora and fauna

-   Distance: 6 miles

-   Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts

-   Starts/ends: Cleeve Hill Golf Club

-   Parking: Quarry car park

-   Landmarks: Cleeve Hill Common SSSI, Postlip Hall

While Broadway Tower takes second place as the Cotswolds’ highest point, Cleeve Hill Common takes the top spot. Cotswolds hiking doesn’t come with finer views than this, so do keep your camera at the ready.

Cleeve Hill Common is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), so you can expect to see super cute birdlife and perhaps small mammals en route, plus colourful butterflies and blooming wildflowers in summer.

Leaving Cleeve Hill Golf Club, you follow the Cotswold Way towards Postlip, a rural hamlet that’s home to 17th century Postlip Hall. 

After Postlip, the route takes you through peaceful woodland before forking off towards a deserted farm and a cluster of radio masts.

Upon regaining the Cotswold Way, don’t miss capturing the sweeping views over five counties on camera before ending back at the golf course. 

The pet-friendly Rising Sun Hotel, perched atop Cleeve Hill, makes a fabulous stopping off point for hungry, thirsty, cold or tired humans – as well as their furry friends. 

 

Salford to Rollright Stones CircularRollright Stone Circle

Best for: Stonehenge-style stone circles

-   Distance: 5.25 miles

-   Time: 3 hours

-   Difficulty rating: Easy; narrow in parts

-   Starts/ends: Salford village, Oxfordshire

-   Parking: On street in Salford

-   Landmarks: Rollright Stones 

The small Oxfordshire village of Salford provides the starting point for this circular walk past the intriguing Rollright stone circles. Yep, Stonehenge does indeed have competition!

At just over five miles long, the loop via Shakespeare’s Way is a good one for all levels of walking ability, taking in the pretty hamlet of Little Rollright as well as the mysterious monoliths.

The stone collections date from varying times and there are three circles to discover: the Whispering Knights, the King’s Men and the King’s Stone.

Legend has it that the Knights, the King and his men were turned to stone by a displeased witch – so you might want to watch your step!

 

Old Sodbury and Little Sodbury WalkLittle Sodbury

Best for: A simple and very scenic stroll 

-   Distance: 2.5 miles

-   Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

-   Difficulty rating: Easy

-   Starts/ends: Opposite the Dog Inn, Old Sodbury

-   Parking: On Chapel Lane

-   Landmarks: St John’s church 

This route from the delightful village of Old Sodbury near Bath takes walkers on a short, easy trail through the gentle southern part of the Cotswolds. Ideal for a laid-back stroll with your pooch.

Past farmland and St John’s church, the path takes you along the Cotswold Way, towards a bench seat where there’s a picture perfect view spread out before you.

Your walk then continues through woods and past an ancient hill fort before leaving the Cotswold Way and retracing the route, via the church once more and back to the pet-friendly Dog Inn in Old Sodbury… and relax!

 

Fifield and Foxholes Nature Reserve CircularFoxholes Nature Reserve

Best for: Romantic moments and bluebell woods

-   Distance: 3.5 miles

-   Time: 2 hours

-   Difficulty rating: Easy; short steep parts

-   Starts/ends: Fifield village, Oxfordshire

-   Parking: On street in Fifield

-   Landmarks: Foxholes Nature Reserve

This forested trail takes hikers of all levels through several kissing gates, so it’s perfect for those taking a romantic Cotswolds break. Aww!

Foxholes Nature Reserve is one of the finest bluebell woods in the area, so it’s worth going during spring if you can. Don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture that sweeping carpet of blues and purples.

This easy, peaceful and pleasant route may at times be muddy or overgrown in places, so don’t forget to don long trousers, as well as those wellington boots if the weather’s been wet.

 

Winchcombe and Belas KnapWInchcombe

Best for: Encountering Neolithic history

-   Distance: 5.25 miles

-   Time: 3 hours

-   Difficulty rating: Moderate; steep in parts

-   Starts/ends: Abbey Terrace War Memorial

-   Parking: Car parks on Bull Lane and Back Lane

-   Landmarks: Belas Knap Long Barrow

This route commencing in Winchcombe takes you back in time to 3000 BC, when Belas Knap Long Barrow was used as a burial mound. 

The snug stone cottages of Vineyard Street are left behind as you head past the cricket pitch to tramp across a field on the hillside – making wellies a must during or after inclement weather. Expect some sogginess underfoot!

Do stop as you trek uphill to savour the swoon-inducing views over Winchcombe, before looping back onto the Cotswold Way via Hill Barn Farm. 

During the 19th century, over 30 Bronze Age skeletons were excavated at Belas Knap Long Barrow, which is both the highlight and high point of this walk.

You can then meander downhill towards Winchcombe’s pair of warm and welcoming pubs: the White Hart and the Lion Inn. Make sure you look out for majestic Sudeley Castle en route.

 

Leckhampton Loop, south of CheltenhamCrickley Hill View

Best for: Easy stroll with sublime views

-   Distance: 4.5 miles

-   Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

-   Difficulty rating: Easy; some uphill parts

-   Starts/ends: Seven Springs pub

-   Parking: Layby at Seven Springs pub

-   Landmarks: Iron Age hill fort, limestone quarry

For some, it doesn’t get much better than starting and ending at a pub. But the Leckhampton Loop has more to offer than cold beer and great value hot meals available at the Seven Springs

The route takes you along the Cotswold Way via the Charlton Kings Common nature reserve and the remnants of an Iron Age hill fort. At Leckhampton Hill’s summit, there are views across to Wales in the distance.

Via quiet woods and a limestone quarry, the route to Daisybank Road passes by some imposing, envy-inducing homes before rejoining the Cotswold Way en route to the Seven Springs.

 

The Diamond WayMorton-in-Marsh, Cotswolds

Best for: A whole week's worth of wandering

-   Distance: 66 miles

-   Time: 4 to 7 days

-   Difficulty rating: Easy; some uphill parts

-   Starts/ends: Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire

-   Landmarks: Iron Age hill fort, limestone quarry 

This route traces the shape of a rough hewn diamond, and was the brainchild of the local North Cotswold Group of the Rambler’s Association.

Beginning and ending in the comely Gloucestershire village of Moreton-in-Marsh, this scenic walk takes in Northleach, Chipping Campden and Guiting Power, as well as skirting close to the edge of Bourton-on-the-Water.

Despite its length, the walk isn’t too challenging and takes you past quintessential Cotswolds sights such as sleepy, honey-toned settlements, tranquil woodland, sprawling farmland and tinkling streams. 

Although it can take up to a week to complete, there are plenty of glorious Cotswolds pubs along the way for those essential pit stops, where you can take stock while refuelling on delicious, locally sourced food. Any why not? You are on holiday after all!

 

While you’re here, why not take a look at our guide to dog friendly pubs in the Cotswolds? Whether you’re doing a walk with your four-legged friend and looking for the perfect pitstop, or would prefer a relaxing afternoon at a local watering hole, these options have got you covered!   

More reading

A (working) Traveller's Tale: On a high horse in Somerset

A (working) Traveller's Tale: On a high horse in Somerset

Somerset may have some watery woes, but there is plenty of high ground to shout our support of this beautiful county from!

Visitors' Book 7 years ago Anna H
Top ten Autumn walks in Somerset

Top ten Autumn walks in Somerset

As the colder months draw in, and golden and red hues fill the trees then empty over the paths as we head through winter, there’s nothing quite like gathering the family for a stroll through the countryside. Embrace the fresh air, wrap up warm and soak in the beauty of Somerset on these ten autumn walks.

Places to Go 4 years ago Kylie Barton
10 of the Prettiest Sights in the Cotswolds

10 of the Prettiest Sights in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds covers 800 glorious square miles of undulating hills and sprawling countryside, not to mention unique honey-coloured villages and medieval market towns. Let's take a look.

Places to Go 10 months ago Lizzie Heather
The best dog friendly pubs in the Cotswolds

The best dog friendly pubs in the Cotswolds

See our guide to the best dog friendly pubs in the Cotswolds, so you can plan dining and days out with your four-legged friend.

Classic Fodder 1 month ago Jessie Moore