Hey everyone! We are Hauke and Misja, two avid hikers, who took a magical walking holiday in February 2019 along the beautiful Cotswold Way, in the heart of England. Are you ready to read about our trip?
DAY 1 – Arrival in Chipping Campden
After a long time preparing for our trip to the Cotswolds, we were ready to board our flight at Dublin Airport en route to Birmingham on 4th February. The excitement was huge and we couldn’t wait to start our 11-Day Moderate Cotswold Way hiking tour.
At 11.30 am we touched down, collected our luggage and headed straight to the bus bringing us to our first B&B in Chipping Campden. We chatted to some locals on the trip to Chipping Campden and everyone seemed so friendly and approachable. Our knowledgeable bus driver Ian brought us safely to our first accommodation, the Volunteer Inn.
The charming, medieval market town of Chipping Campden is the perfect example of a typical Cotswold village. During the Middle Ages, Chipping Campden was renowned as a wool trading centre and became very prosperous. Today, with its warm, honey colored limestone buildings and rich architectural heritage surrounded by rolling green hills, Chipping Campden is best known as a popular tourist destination and as a starting point for hikers who are walking the Cotswold Way.
DAY 2 – Chipping Campden to Stanton
Well-rested and fueled by a hearty English breakfast, we started our hiking adventure at the circular limestone plaque at the Market Hall in Chipping Campden.
After a short break for lunch and some time spent taking lots of pictures of the honeycomb colored houses, we proceeded to walk towards our destination, the idyllic village of Stanton. Although we didn’t experience the best weather and had slightly muddy boots after our walk on this day, these misty and quiet days have their own charm. We knew we were nearing Broadway Tower but suddenly out of nowhere, the Tower stood in front of us, an impressive structure that from there on, set the bar high in terms of what to expect on this walking holiday.
DAY 3 – Stanton to Cleeve Hill
Our first day walking had been mostly overcast although the weather did improve throughout the day. On our second day of walking, we were delighted to wake up to bright sunshine and great energy for our hike from Stanton to Cleeve Hill. Along this section we passed some wonderful specimens of oak trees, beech trees, sycamore trees and horse chestnut trees just before we arrived at the famous Stanway House. Further on, we climbed uphill and took a little rest on a bench dedicated to a local lady called Pinky Dickins, all while enjoying the beautiful English countryside.
After our short break we continued walking towards the small town of Winchcombe, passing Beckbury Camp, and an Iron Age promontory fort, Hailes Abbey, dating back to the 13th century, along with Belas Knap, a neolithic, chambered long barrow.
We discovered mole hills on the trail and we were convinced that Mr. Mole, our new friend, was “hiking” the Cotswold Way with us. While enjoying the beautiful views, we even met a female police officer on horseback, telling us to be on our best behavior. Yes, madam!
After hiking nearly 23 km, we were glad to be at our B&B for the night and we enjoyed a good night’s sleep ahead of another exciting day to come.
DAY 4 – Cleeve Hill to Leckhampton Hill
Our next stretch on the Cotswold Way took us from Cleeve Hill to Leckhampton Hill. Again, we were blessed with beautiful weather and great opportunities for fantastic photographs and scenic views. Highlights of this section were the Prestbury Hill Nature Reserve, offering some very rare species of butterfly and moths, and also Lineover Woods, an ancient woodland considered one of the finest examples of the ancient semi-natural coppice woodland which was once common in the Cotswolds.
We even got to see a rainbow in the valley over Cheltenham. After another long days’ walk, we were finally able to relax and taste some fresh local brew. The “Hill Climb”, is a highly recommended refreshing pale ale from the area.
DAY 5 – Leckhampton Hill to Painswick
It was our 5th day in the Cotswolds and we took off to explore the walking trail between Leckhampton Hill to Painswick. Our first stop of the day was at the Crickley Hill Visitor Centre (toilet facilities available), where you can get a coffee or snack in the café or simply take a rest before heading towards Birdlip Village.
We continued walking and then took our lunch break in the Royal George Hotel where we enjoyed tasty, locally sourced grub. Well-fed and rested we headed towards Painswick, passing Witcombe Roman Villa and Painswick Beacon (also known as Kimsbury Camp). Painswick is often referred to as The Queen of the Cotswold, due to its elegant, pale-colored buildings and quaint and narrow streets.
DAY 6 – Painswick to Nympsfield
We left the charming houses of Painswick behind us and had the pleasant surprise of realizing that we were only 55 miles away from Bath: nearly halfway there! But our excitement grew even larger when we reached the top of Haresfield Beacon, a geological site known for its Jurassic rocks and offering superb and sunny panoramic views over the River Severn all the way to the Black Mountains in Wales. Hauke couldn’t stop taking pictures of the escarpment and neither could the other walkers we met on the ridge. What an amazing experience!
It took us a while to take in the views until we finally decided to move along. But there was one last surprise waiting for us at the end of today’s hike: an English vineyard! Chardonnay was being grown, to be more precise.
DAY 7 – Nympsfield to Wotton-under-Edge
Shortly after leaving Nympsfield, we walked through a beautiful lush paradise – The Jungle of the Cotswolds as we liked to call it – and we were surprised not to see any monkeys there (but we did look for them). Then we walked to Cam Long Down, an impressive flat-topped hill, and thought of renaming it Cam Long Up as we were making our long journey to the top. But the panoramic view from the ridge was well worth ten times the climb we did on the ascent.
The highlight of the day for us was without a doubt the Tyndale Monument that was standing majestically under a beautiful sunset as we were approaching North Nibley.
Hauke made it to the top of the tower. Check out the view he discovered:
DAY 8 – Wotton-under-Edge to Old Sodbury
On the morning of Day 8, our first stop was the charming village of Lower Kilcott. What better way to start the day than the sound of birds singing and a stream gurgling.
Further on, we passed the two impressive Iron Age hill forts of Horton Fort and Old Sodbury Camp, built as a fortified settlement around 500 BC. We didn’t have to fight our way in as the forces involved there were by no means harmful:
We could feel the magic in the Cotswolds air or maybe it was just the refreshing pint of Cotswold Way that we had after today’s hike kicking in (yes, the trail has its own local beer and it is quite tasty). Or, just maybe it was because we reached Old Sodbury, a charming village located outside of Yate – the magical birthplace of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling! Who knows?
DAY 9 – Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton
Our first highlight of the day was Dodington Park, a gorgeous country house and estate built in the 16th century which now belongs to the famous vacuum cleaner inventor and businessman James Dyson!
As we were nearly in Bath, we thought we’d film a little recap on how the last couple of days went:
DAY 10 – Cold Ashton to Bath
We left Cold Ashton in a foggy dawn with a tinge of sadness and excitement as we began our last walk on the Cotswold Way. But we were not quite there yet and there was still plenty of things to see! One of them was the field of the Battle of Lansdown where 1000 Royalist are believed to have lost their lives in 1643 during the English Civil War.
The sun gradually started to chase the mist away and we really enjoyed soaking up the sunshine (it was February after all!) while enjoying a stunning view from the escarpment. Wait a minute, was that Bath we could see from the distance? We had to go and check it out!
DAY 11 – Departure from Bath
What an amazing hike it was. We didn’t expect to be blown away by so much beauty and quaintness. The English countryside was truly beautiful with its green rolling hills going on and on and the hiking was very good for not just the body, but the soul too.
Not to mention the small villages we discovered along the way and their gorgeous honey-coloured stone cottages which make the peaceful Cotswolds so unique.
The hike itself was really pleasant, the trail was very well marked and it’s pretty impossible to get lost (the Cotswold Way is known as the best way-marked National Trail in England). The detailed route notes and map provided were spot on and full of interesting facts.
We knew at the end of each walk that our luggage had been transferred for us to our next guesthouse and that a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast were waiting and this made the trip so hassle-free and enjoyable.
It’s time for us to leave now, but not without a few pictures of the city of Bath – after all, it’s not everyday that you visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
We hope our adventure has inspired you and hopefully you will be soon hiking the Cotswold Way!
Hauke & Misja
|Self-guided tours from £359! Accommodation and bag transfer included.|