Discover the natural beauty of the Cotswold Hills, on one of our Cotswold Self-Guided Walking Tours.
Meander at a leisurely pace on a self-guided walking holiday through charming villages and ancient towns. Take in breathtaking historical sites and immerse yourselves in the beauty of the rolling hills and green valleys.
Enjoy the magnificent English countryside
less than two hours from central London by train or by car
We provide a map and comprehensive instructions, together with bed and breakfast and luggage transfer, taking all the worry and stress out of your holiday. So whether you like to trek alone or as a group, Walk the Landscape has one of the perfect Cotswold self-guided walking tours for you!
You can ramble from market town to market town, passing through famous places like Stow-on-the-Wold and the Slaughters, or go a little off the beaten track and explore the peaceful villages of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. If you prefer to stay in one place, you may like to make your base in Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water or Chipping Campden and take day walks from there.
However, if you would like to walk with one of our experienced and knowledgeable guides, please checkout our guided walking tours. If you prefer a longer trail, then the Cross Cotswold Pathway or the more strenuous Cotswold Way may be for you.
Not sure when to experience a Walk the Landscape walking holiday?
With the white frosts of winter, bright greens of spring, blues of summer skies and the vivid bronze, yellows and reds of autumnal leaves, the English countryside looks incredible at any time of year, so there’s never a bad time to join us!
To find out more, browse our meticulously researched and highly popular Cotswold self-guided walking tours below.
The Classic Cotswolds
3-night self-guided walking tour
This tour starts in Moreton-in-Marsh where you will stay the night. This pretty town is located at the crossroads of the Fosse Way (the Roman Road that runs from Exeter to Lincoln) and the A44, the main road from Oxford to Aberystwyth in west Wales. It’s not surprising then that Moreton was once a coaching station and the numerous elegant 18th century coaching inns are evidence of this. It has also been market town since 1227 – as its wide main street testifies – and there is still a thriving Tuesday market.
On the first walking day, there is a gentle climb from Moreton to Stow-on-the-Wold (the highest town in the Cotswolds) for the second night, passing by country mansions and through sleepy villages. Located at the junction of six roads Stow is an important and natural meeting place. The market square is also a reminder of Stow-on-the-Wold’s heritage as the major sheep market in the Cotswolds. In the 17th century, the writer Daniel Defoe recorded that 20,000 sheep were sold in a single day.
On the second walking day, you will take the low road to Bourton-on-the-Water passing through the sleepy Slaughters and the peaceful upper Windrush Valley, where Cotswold sheep continue to graze the wild flower rich pastures as they have done for centuries. Bourton-on-the-Water known as ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ embraced tourism in the 19th century, following the decline in the wool trade, and now hosts some of the major attractions in the Cotswolds.
On the last walking day, you’ll hike through Salmondsbury, a Neolithic and Iron Age archaeological site next to the River Dikler. Then over the ridge from Gloucestershire to Oxfordshire for a walk through prosperous villages in rich farmland to Kingham railway station and your journey home.
Day 1: Drive or take the train to Moreton-in-Marsh for bed and breakfast
Day 2: Walk from Moreton-in-Marsh to Stow-on-the-Wold (8.5 moderate miles / 14 km)
Day 3: Walk from Stow to Bourton-on-the-Water via the Windrush Valley (6 moderate or 12 miles strenuous / 10 or 19 km)
Day 4: Walk from Bourton-on-the-Water to Kingham (9 moderate miles with one short hill / 14.5 km) to pick up the train home or to Moreton-in-Marsh to pick up your car.
The Oxfordshire Cotswolds
2 or 3-night self-guided walking tour
The tour starts in Kingham where you will stay the night. Kingham has a railway station so it is easy to get there.
On the first walking day you’ll pass through the quiet villages of Oddington and Adlestrop on the borders of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Adlestrop is famous because in June 1914, at the brink of the First World War, the Paddington to Worcester train stopped there unexpectedly. After hearing a blackbird sing, a passenger Edward Thomas, was inspired to write his famous poem Adlestrop, heady with summer and evocative of all English country villages.
On the second night you’ll stay in ‘Chippy’ (or Chipping Norton), a lively market town with excellent food and local ales, many pubs and restaurants. It boasts a theatre, art galleries, a museum and antique shops, and also has one of the finest parish churches in Oxfordshire, a mediaeval guildhall, some quaint back lanes and beautiful Georgian houses.
On the second walking day, you’ll amble through green, rolling countryside and past grand country houses to the charming town of Charlbury, where you’ll stay the third night. Charlbury was a centre for glove making until the mid-20th century using hide from deer taken from the neighbouring Wychwood Forest. Queens Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II were both presented with elaborate pairs of gloves made by the town.
On the third walking day you’ll stroll through what remains of the Royal Forest of Wychwood and the surrounding villages. This forest, recorded in the Domesday Book (1286), was established by William the Conqueror, who introduced the very un-English concept that all land ultimately belonged to the Crown thus allowing the King the right to use areas of private land for deer hunting. Today, majestic old oak trees still stand alongside the woodland footpath.
Day 1: Drive or take the train to Kingham for bed and breakfast
Day 2: Walk from Kingham to Chipping Norton (13 moderate miles / 21 km)
Day 3: Walk from Chipping Norton to Charlbury (12 moderate miles / 19 km)
Day 4 (optional): Take a circular walk through Wychwood Forest (8.5 moderate miles / 14 km).
Take the train from Charlbury home or to Kingham to pick up the car (trains every hour).
Prices: From £220 per person for 2 nights or £300 per person for 3 nights based on two people sharing a room
Click these links to see what’s included price and how we grade our walks.
Contact us to book or discuss this tour. Top
North Cotswold Towns and Villages
An extended self-guided walking tour
Walking breaks based in Stow-on-the-Wold or Bourton-on-the-Water
A 1 to 3 night walking holiday based in Stow-on-the-Wold or Bourton-on-the-Water
The walks explore the area around Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water. At each town, two of the walks start and end at your accommodation, with a third walk a short bus or taxi ride away, offering a greater variety of villages and landscapes.
Stow-on-the-Wold is the highest town in the Cotswolds (800 feet above sea level) and important and natural meeting place. Stow lies at the junction of six roads, the Fosse Way (the Roman Road that runs from Exeter to Lincoln) passes through the town and roads radiate to Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol, Oxford and Birmingham. For centuries the Cotswold’s major sheep market was held in The Square and in the late 17th century the writer Daniel Defoe recorded the sale of 20,000 sheep in a single day. Stow has a fair range of pubs and restaurants where you can eat dinner and the shopping is good, especially for gifts or antiques.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a charming large village on the banks of the river Windrush. As several attractive bridges pass over the river, it is sometimes described as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. In the 19th century, following the decline of the wool trade, Bourton encouraged visitors and now hosts some of the Cotswolds main attractions, such as the model village, the motor museum and the perfume factory. There are also gift shops, tea shops, pubs and restaurants.
We provided bed and breakfast accommodation for 1 to 3 nights (or more if you wish), together with a maps, directions and information for a selection of circular walks, and advice on travelling to and from the Cotswolds.
These are the walks that we offer:
- The Swells – wander through the attractive scenery to the west of Stow, passing the picturesque Hyde mill and visiting the Swells and Maugesbury, the oldest settlement in the area (5½ easy miles / 9 km – from Stow).
- The Battle of Stow 1646 – amble through rolling countryside to the site of one of the battles in the English Civil War, then return to the Market Square in Stow-on-the-Wold along the route followed by the retreating Royalist troops. (7.5 moderate miles / 12 km – from Stow).
- Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters – follow the valley of the river Eye through Upper and Lower Slaughter, pretty villages with scary names, then return along the Windrush valley where little has changed over the centuries, taking in the quiet village of Naunton on the longer walk (6 or 12 moderate miles / 10 or 19 km – from Stow or Bourton)
- Hedgerows – enjoy the hedgerows, lakes, history and nature around Bourton-on-the-Water ( 5 easy or 8 moderate miles with a short climb on the longer walk / 8 or 13 km – from Bourton).
- Woolly Money – explore the countryside around the unspoilt town of Northleach, which hosted huge markets selling fleeces in the Middle Ages, and visit its magnificent church built with profits from the wool trade (3 to 6 easy miles / 5 to 10 km – from Northleach, a short bus ridge from Stow and Bourton).
Chipping Campden and the Cotswold Escarpment
A self-guided walking holiday based in Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden, the base for this holiday, is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century, built from wealth from the medieval wool trade. Indeed, G.M. Trevelyan, the 20th century English Historian, described the High Street as “the most beautiful village street now left on the island”. In the 17th century it became the home to Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olympick Games that are still held in early June on the escarpment above the town, and in the early 20th century, Campden became a centre for the Cotswold Arts and Crafts movement.
The walks explore the escarpment villages that lie between the Cotswolds and the Severn valley and pass through settlements such as the hamlet of Saintbury nestled tight against the Cotswold escarpment and the modernised villages of Willersey and Weston sub Edge. They also take in the market town of Broadway that was once an important staging post on the main road from Worcester to London. At the turn of the 20th century Broadway was ‘discovered’ by American artists, Edwin Abbot and Frank Millet, and Henry Forde stayed at the famous Lygon Arms Hotel. It is now a favourite tourist attraction with an abundance of antique and tea shops.
You can also explore the quiet village of Blockley, which during the 18th century turned to silk production following the decline of the wool industry. The village still retains an unusual but charming industrial character in the midst of the rural Cotswold landscape, quite different to others in the north Cotswolds.
The world famous gardens at Hidcote and Kiftsgate are also within walking distance of the town.
We provide bed and breakfast accommodation for as many nights as you would like together with advice on travelling to and from Chipping Campden. We also provide maps, directions and information of interest for four circular walks from the town and a linear walk between Chipping Campden and the railway station at Moreton-in-Marsh:
- Dover’s Hill and the Ups and Downs of Village Life (a circular walk of 3.5 moderate or 9 strenuous miles / 6 or 14.5 kn)
- The Arts and Crafts Movement in Chipping Campden and Broadway (a circular walk of 12.5 strenuous miles / 20 km)
- Broad Campden and Blockley (a circular walk of 3 easy, 5 or 9 moderate miles / 5, 8 or 14.5 km)
- Hidcote Manor and Kiftgate gardens (a circular walk of 6 to 8 miles / 10 or 13 km)
- Chipping Campden to/from Moreton-in-Marsh and the railway station (a linear walk of 8 moderate to strenuous miles / 12.5 km).
Woodstock and Blenheim
A self-guided walking holiday based in Woodstock, Oxfordshire
The town of Woodstock prospered in the medieval period as it was the location of a grand Royal Hunting Lodge, a favourite of medieval kings. In the 16th century it was a centre for glove making and from the early 18th century the location of Blenheim Palace, the home of the Dukes of Marlborough.
Blenheim Palace was made a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is rightly one of the south of England’s most impressive attractions. The estate was given to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, by a grateful monarch and nation, following his victory over Louis XIV at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Winston Churchill was born there and his father, Randolph Churchill described the view of the palace, bridge and lake, as the ‘Finest View in England’ when he brought his future wife to Blenheim for the first time.
We offer four walks in the area. One walk takes you into the heart of the magnificent Blenheim Park, a landscape created in the 18th century by the architect, John Vanbrugh and the gardener, Capability Brown. Another follows the Glyme Valley and forgotten routes in the countryside north of Woodstock. The third takes you to the site of Winston Churchill’s grave, and the fourth explores Blenheim Great Park the Roman Road, Akeman Street and the village of Combe.
We provided bed and breakfast accommodation for as many nights as you would like, advice on travelling to and from Woodstock, together with a maps, directions and information for a selection of circular walks.
- The Finest View in England (3.5 easy miles)
- Forgotten Routes (5.5 easy miles)
- The Churchill Connection (4 easy miles)
- Blenheim Great Park (8 easy miles)
You can also take a regular bus from Woodstock to visit the city of Oxford.
Prices for our Cotswold Self-Guided Walking Tours are inclusive of:
- bed and breakfast at specially selected accommodation in en-suite rooms with two people sharing.
- maps, self-guiding details of the route and the accommodation
- booklets describing the history and nature of the countryside walked through
- luggage transfer on hiking tours
- advice on how to travel to and from the self-guided holiday on public transport or by car
- support in the unlikely event of an emergency
Regrettably a single person supplement of £20 to £50 per night will apply to the standard price.Top
Grading walks is difficult, as terrain that one person finds easy, another finds strenuous. We use the following criteria based on the experiences of regular walkers. The grades do not take distance into account.
Easy – fairly flat and even footpaths.
Moderate – rolling countryside with gentle ascents and an occasional short steep section.
Strenuous – up to three steep ascents and/or difficult uneven ground
Very Strenuous – long steep, ascents or extremely difficult ground (not normally encountered in the Cotswolds) Top.
Contact us to book a tour, for further information or discuss a customisation.