Often called the “walking capital of England,” the Cotswolds are home to undulating hills, honey-hued stone villages, and vibrant country gardens. Trek through this storybook landscape on a walking tour of the Cotswolds, hiking trails through lush farmland and strolling the cobblestone streets of historic villages. From the Regency city of Cheltenham you’ll journey to charming Bibury, all the while taking in the breathtaking views and warm hospitality of the Cotswolds. Your comfortable accommodations include country manor houses and renovated historic properties, perfect for relaxing at the end of the day. Along your journey sample savory cuisine from traditional pubs and upscale dining establishments with meals made from fresh, local ingredients. Discover a walkers’ paradise on this self-guided Cotswolds walking tour.
Fri, May 1 to Sun, May 31 - 2020
Upon arrival in England, you make your way to Cheltenham in the County of Gloucestershire. This cultural capital of the fabled Cotswolds exudes an air of refinement, adorned with neatly tended green spaces and gracious Regency architecture dressed in ironwork, balconies, and verandahs. In the 18th century, aristocrats, including Jane Austen, flocked here with the same fervor with which they retreated to Bath—to “take the waters” of its many spas. You may arrive at your hotel at any time and spend the afternoon as you wish, perhaps warming up for your walking days with a stroll along the leafy promenade or browsing the fine-art collections of The Wilson Museum & Art Gallery. You meet your local Country Walkers representative this evening at 6:00 p.m. for an orientation meeting and welcome drink at the hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight at one of Cheltenham’s many fine restaurants.
Accommodation: Malmaison Cheltenham, Cheltenham
9.3 miles, moderate, 650-ft. elevation gain and loss
After breakfast, you transfer about a half-hour to the 10th-century Sudeley Castle & Gardens, gracefully set against the quiet dignity of the Cotswolds hills on the outskirts of the ancient Saxon capital of Winchcombe. One of England’s most enchanting old estates, this is the final resting place of Queen Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII. There’ll be time to visit the property and stroll among its 10 award-winning gardens (we’ve already paid your entrance fee). Perhaps stop by the Pheasantry to admire its collection of 16 rare bird species, all bred and conserved here. Later, set off on the day’s walk to your next hotel.
You follow the Cotswold Way and an ancient pilgrims’ route to the eerie ruined arches of Hailes Abbey, once a sprawling complex that lured pilgrims by falsely claiming it held a vial of Holy Blood. From here, it’s a gentle climb up to the Iron Age Fortress at Beckbury Camp for superb valley views. After passing Stanway House’s magnificent gatehouse and tithe barn, perhaps enjoy a pub lunch in Stanton, and then amble through open meadows to charming Broadway, referred to as the “Jewel in the Cotswold Crown,” with its picturesque tree-lined High Street. You can seek out St. Eadburgha’s Church, hidden away on Snowshill Road. The village’s honey-colored limestone buildings and garden-lined streets were an inspiration to many artists and writers, such as J.M. Barrie and John Singer Sargent. After time to explore, you transfer about 10 minutes to your hotel for the next two nights, nestled among the hills on a country lane.
This evening, savor a relaxed dinner at the inviting onsite country pub, The Potting Shed—expect wholesome, hearty dishes like meltingly tender slow-cooked pork belly, freshly caught fish, and locally sourced steaks with a heap of dripping chips. Throughout your Country Walkers Self-Guided Adventure, you can forget everything you’ve heard about English cuisine. Far from the bland traditions of old, you will enjoy an exciting blend of fresh garden flavors and meats from local farms, infused with international flair, bright color, and the creativity of modern chefs.
Accommodation: Dormy House Hotel & Spa, Broadway
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
9.7 miles, moderate, 700-ft. elevation gain and 450-ft. elevation loss
Enjoy a hearty breakfast this morning of eggs, kippers, poached haddock, juices and continental favorites. On your way out, retrieve your included packed lunch of a sandwich of your choice, chips, seasonal fruit, fruit juice, and cake of the day to keep you fueled. You begin the day’s invigorating walk at Hidcote Gardens, which you may visit at your own expense if you wish (approximately £13.50 per person). Its maze of paved pathways leads to outdoor “rooms,” splendid panoramas, and endless surprises, all designed by American horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston.
From the gardens, set off on foot below the Worcestershire Hills to Chipping Campden, a charming old market town once famous for its wool trade, putting the Cotswolds on the map of merchants from London to Florence as they sought material for their clothing, tapestries, and more. The Grevel House, home to a renowned wool merchant, is on High Street. Today, Chipping Campden remains a thriving market town, home to fine buildings of every style from the 14th to the 17th centuries, a covered market, the “wool church” of St. James, and a silversmith. Take time to drink in this handsome little village with its long, gently curving main street.
Continue along the Cotswold Way on a gentle ascent toward the hotel. A short detour leads to Broadway’s Tower, the 18th-century folly inspired by Capability Brown, where you’re rewarded with stunning, unspoiled views (entry at your own expense; approximately £5 per person). Located 1,024 feet atop Fish Hill, the tower is the second-highest point in the Cotswolds; it is said that in good weather 13 counties can be seen from here. The tower was built to satisfy a countess’s whim, and was later the home of William Morris, a 19th-century poet, painter, and social reformer. Return to your hotel for another unforgettable evening in luxury, sampling more restaurant fare on your own. You might use the spa facilities, included in your stay, or indulge in one of its soothing treatments at your own expense. (Be sure to reserve in advance.)
Accommodation: Dormy House Hotel & Spa, Broadway
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
7 miles, easy to moderate, 800-ft. elevation gain and 850-ft. elevation loss
Transfer to Chipping Campden after another glorious breakfast. Then follow the farm fields and dirt tracks of the Heart of England Way, the celebrated trail that traverses the midlands of the country. Your first destination is Broad Campden, a quiet picturesque village of thatched cottages nestled in the rolling countryside. You’re sure to pass grazing sheep and babbling streams as you approach the charming hamlet. Its cottages along High Street and its parish church are built from the lovely and distinctive golden Cotswold stone. The Quaker Meeting House is the oldest in the country, constructed in 1663.
Continue to the pretty village of Blockley, called a “best kept secret” of the Cotswolds. This stunning little town prospered not on wool—like so many other villages in the region—but more so on silk. The eight mills that once produced the material are now private homes. During your visit, stroll among a rich canvas of Norman, Early English, medieval, and 17th- and 18th-century architecture. Later, descend to Batsford and its namesake Arboretum, a beautiful garden where spectacular coral bark maple and russet-berried mountain ash trees thrive. You may wander its inviting pathways on your own if you wish (approximately £8.95 per person). Then enjoy an easy stroll to the edge of the splendid Evenlode Valley and its bustling market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, which has welcomed travelers for at least 1,700 years.
Accommodation: The Manor House Hotel, Moreton-in-Marsh
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
2.8–5.4 miles (depending on hotel location), easy to moderate, 400-ft. elevation gain and 400-ft. elevation loss. Afternoon option: 2.5 miles, easy, no elevation gain or loss
After breakfast, you transfer to the tiny village of Broadwell Crossroads to begin another day of glorious walking over gently undulating landscapes. Set out through a bucolic landscape of green pastures, farms, and lovely Cotswold villages. You follow grassy and dirt paths through wheat fields and copses of hawksbeard and buttercups and descend to the antique-filled village of Stow-on-the-Wold, where you may stop for an early lunch overlooking the stocks on the village green. This pretty town was founded by Norman lords at the crossroads of several trade routes. Its market square is brimming with history: Fairs have been held here since 1330. At the height of the Cotswold wool industry, as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time. (Please note: If staying in Stow-on-the-Wold on Night 4, today’s walk will begin in Stow-on-the-Wold).
Listen for woodpeckers in oak woods on the way to your next lodging in the tiny hamlet of Lower Slaughter. A delightful stroll from town leads to the neighboring hamlet of Bourton-on-the-Water, regularly voted the prettiest village in England. Its tidy streets are lined with tiny shops, Tudor houses, and gourmet restaurants.
Accommodation: Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
6.8 miles, easy to moderate, 400-ft. elevation gain and loss
After breakfast, a short transfer brings you to the town of Bibury, lauded by William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England.” Today, you’ll be starting and ending in this pretty village, home to Arlington Row, a string of stone weavers’ cottages and one of England’s most photographed sites. Originally built in 1380 as a wool store, it was converted into picturesque cottages in the 17th century. In 2010, the scenic cottages of Arlington Row were featured on the inside cover of the UK passport.
Your walk begins near these cottages, as you cross the Coln River. Make your way past farm houses and old mill buildings and into a landscape of rolling meadows and scattered forest. Reaching the town of Coln St. Aldywns, stop for lunch at a local restaurant or perhaps savor a pint at a pub, taking some time to relax before the return walk to Bibury.
As you leave Coln St. Aldwyns, you’ll pass almshouses and other historic buildings as your trail turns from road to walled lane to farm track. Continue through pastures and past farm cottages until your trail turns to a grassy track. Reaching Bibury, you’ll have time to explore before you settle in at tonight’s elegant, ivy-clad accommodation.
Dinner is on your own, and you can choose from one of the fine restaurants in town, or dine at your hotel, perhaps trying local smoked guinea fowl to start, followed by baked Bibury trout for a main course.
Accommodation: The Swan Hotel, Bibury
Included Meals: Breakfast
After a sumptuous breakfast, you transfer about 40 minutes to Moreton-in-Marsh, where your tour concludes.
Included Meals: Breakfast
The majestic white building of Malmaison’s hotel in Cheltenham looks right at home just around the corner from the serene Montpellier Gardens, with the restaurant boasting a glass conservatory ‘Garden Room’ and beautiful terrace. Although the hotel rests in the very heart of Cheltenham, you’ll instantly feel the calm and privacy of this sensitively converted and utterly modern villa and surrounding grounds. Enjoy Malmaison’s famous menus in the Brasserie, or cocktails and spirits in the unique ambience of the bar. Underneath the charm and calm of this Cheltenham hotel bubbles a restrained energy, with modern bedrooms featuring monsoon showers, robes, and REN toiletries. Rooms are naturally cooled without air conditioning. A Nespresso machine, minibar, tea and coffee making facilities, and indulgent snacks provide the finishing touches. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
At once elegant and rustic, the Dormy House is bathed in soothing neutral palettes and farmhouse chic. This rural retreat rests near the top of the Cotswold escarpment, high above the village of Broadway, and provides sweeping views of spellbinding landscapes. Inspired by the furnishings and warmth of a stylish home, its guest rooms are naturally cooled without air conditioning, and its streamlined interiors evoke Scandinavian designs. The outstanding spa offers a lavender sauna, salt-infusion steam room, and infinity pool. Exposed stone walls and beams round out the historic character of this gorgeous property. At mealtime, choose from three venues: The Garden Room provides exquisite meals and al fresco dining; The Potting Shed offers brasserie classics; and The Greenhouse is your choice for lighter fare. At breakfast, savor a feast of fresh fruits, cereals, meats, pastries, and hot options.
The Lords of the Manor
A rambling 17th-century luxury manor house, Lords of the Manor blends classic contemporary interiors with country charm and attentive service. Grand public rooms, snug corners, and un-air conditioned guest rooms—both in the main house and in the converted granary and barn—are decorated with country-house floral patterns, a muted color scheme, and antiques honoring the property’s heritage. Luxury skin care and bath lotions, along with slippers and fluffy robes and complimentary sparkling elderflower water, complete your stay. There’s also an acclaimed restaurant offering upscale French-inspired cuisine and afternoon teas. Occupying eight acres of landscaped grounds featuring sweeping lawns and espaliered walled gardens, the manor is just a 35-minute stroll along country paths to Bourton-on-the-Water, the Cotswolds’ best-known village for its picturesque streets, series of bridges over the Windrush River, and bird habitat. Please note: this accommodation is available on limited departures.
Manor House Hotel
Located in the center of Moreton-in-Marsh, the 4-star Manor House Hotel is an idyllic country manor reminiscent of English nobility. The 16th-century house is the ultimate in sophistication, offering luxurious accommodations, a finely curated library with cozy armchairs, an award-winning restaurant, and stunning walled gardens. Many of its interiors were inspired by the natural beauty of the Cotswolds. Each room boasts its own historic charm and décor. Please note that the Manor House Hotel is not air conditioned.
The Swan Hotel
A former Cotswold coaching Inn, The Swan Hotel is a tranquil retreat nestled in the picturesque Cotswolds beside the River Coln. Each of its 22 rooms are individually decorated and offer modern amenities such as in-room WiFi and Nespresso machines. Comfortable and stylish, the hotel’s common areas boast bold colors paired with flamboyant prints and wallpapers. Rooms blend antique and modern styles while staying true to the hotel’s historic roots with rooms that are naturally cooled without air conditioning. The on-site restaurant serves meals in an elegant setting and features a lavish afternoon tea. Relax in the lush garden or stroll by the riverbank gazing out over the rolling hills and pastoral scenes that encapsulate the natural beauty of the Cotswolds.
|10 meals: 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 3 dinners|
|Detailed water- and tear-resistant Route Notes and maps|
|Orientation meeting with a Country Walkers representative|
|Local representative available 24/7|
|Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary: Entrance to Sudeley Castle & Gardens|
|Scheduled taxi and luggage transfers (Please note: If unable to walk, it is possible to transfer with your luggage from one accommodation to the next at no additional charge.)|
|Emergency travel assistance hotline available 24/7|
|Access to Self-Guided Flight Concierge—Ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync perfectly with your planned trip.|
Dates & Prices
|2020 Dates||Number of Travelers||Pre Hotel Night||Post Hotel Night|
|2-3||4+||Single Supplement||Solo Surcharge||2+||Single Supplement||2+||Single Supplement|
|May 1 - May 31||$3,048||$3,048||$1,148||$398||$248||$248||$198||$198|
|Jun 2 - Oct 24||$3,148||$3,148||$1,148||$398||$248||$248||$198||$198|
|Oct 25 - Oct 31||$3,048||$3,048||$1,148||$398||$248||$248||$198||$198|
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