The Cotswold Way is one of the 16 National Trails in the UK. It leads from Chipping Campden to Bath and brings hikers into the most beautiful landscapes of South England. In this post, we present five special highlights you will find while hiking the Cotswold Way.
With a total length of 164 kilometers (102 miles) and a total ascent of 3,300 meters (10,827 feet), the Cotswold Way has plenty of ups and downs but no very strenuous climbs. The highest altitude reached is also only at 330 meters above sea level or 1,083 feet, at Cleeve Hill. This trail is therefore suitable for beginner hikers who can break the trail up into more sections as well as more experienced hikers who will really enjoy the rolling hills.
What makes this hiking route so special is its geographical location in a protected “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and the unbelievably wide variety of landscapes, historical sites and charming villages to which it takes you.
1. Broadway Tower
At 20 meters, Broadway Tower is the tallest tower in the whole of the Cotswolds and has an eventful history. The British call this structure a “folly” ( a costly building with no practical purpose). Allegedly, the tower was built at Lady Coventry’s request, and only to find out if its beacon was visible in her Worcester home, 22 miles away.
It turns out that it was. Erected in 1794, the Broadway Tower combines architectural styles from different centuries. The tower has served numerous purposes since its completion. During the Cold War, it became a monitoring station for nuclear weapons with an attached bunker. In the 19th century, it housed artists and in the present day, it holds exhibitions on all three floors about it’s fascinating history.
2. Gloucester Cheese
Gloucester Cheese (pronounced Glosster) is perhaps the most typical specialty on the Cotswold Way. Cow’s milk cheese has been made in two varieties since the 15th century here: Single and Double Gloucester. Both types of cheese have a rind and are sold as round loafs. But while the Double Gloucester can be found in many supermarkets in Great Britain due to its popularity, Single Gloucester has traditionally been increasingly eaten in Gloucestershire itself.
By the way, Gloucester Cheese owes its characteristic yellow color to the real bedstraw. The yellow blooming flower grows on the cow pastures of the region and gives the cheese its typical appearance.
Cooper’s Hill on the Cotswold Way is also home to the famous and dangerous annual Cheese Rolling competition where stalwart competitors chase eight-pound rounds of double Gloucester cheese down this very steep hill.
Stanton is commonly referred to as the most beautiful and pristine village in the Cotswolds and that is saying something given the competition of Chipping Campden, Broadway and many others. Houses made of the beautiful local golden yellow limestone, well-tended gardens and historic buildings invite you to stroll and take it all in.
With less than 200 inhabitants, this cute village is not full of facilities. Still there is a pub. The Mount Inn has views of the Malvern Hills and the Evesham Valley. The building itself dates from the 17th century. The St Michaels Church is also worth seeing. The oldest ruins on the church property are almost a thousand years old.
4. Roman thermal baths
The Cotswold Way brings you right into the heart of Bath, Somerset’s largest city. As a World Heritage Site, Bath has a lot to offer visitors interested in history. The Roman baths are not only a highlight during a visit to the city, they are a special highlight on any trip to England.
The use of the thermal spring even dates back to before the Roman invasion of the island. The Celts built the first temple here and dedicated it to the goddess Sulis.
Legend has it that King Bladud and his herd of pigs were freed from leprosy in the healing water as early as 863 BC. The Romans later brought their architectural knowledge and building skills with them to Bath and built a thermal bath around the bubbling spring.
You can no longer swim in the 45 degree warm water of the Roman baths. But visitors can tour the facility and taste the thermal water in the pump room. And if you want to do something good for your tired feet after a hike, the Thermae Bath Spa next door is the right place for you.
5. Dyrham Park
Dyrham Park is a baroque castle and extensive park area very close to Bath. The Baroque style of architecture started in Italy in the late-16th century and is known for being a more theatrical version of Renaissance architecture. Construction on the property began in the late 17th century on behalf of William Blathwayt.
Nature lovers will be delighted by the herd of fallow deer and the various gardens. The West Garden, for example, is dedicated to the regional wildflowers.
The property also has beautiful interiors and houses an art collection with works by outstanding Dutch painters. Dyrham Park has also served as a film set on several occasions. In 1993, the film What Was Left of the Day was shot here.
Dyrham Park is open to visitors all year round and has special activities for children.