The Cotswold Way – Ultimate Guide For Hikers
The Cotswold Way – Ultimate Guide For Hikers is part of a series of articles on this fantastic national trail. Links to the other articles are at the bottom of the page.
Go straight to the contents or read on for a short intro to the trail.
What Is The Cotswold Way?
And How Plan Your Hike
The Cotswold Way is a 100-mile long-distance national trail in the southwest of England – and it will take your breath away!
I hiked this gorgeous trail in July 2021 and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it was so much more rewarding than I anticipated! I expected the beautiful countryside and quaint Cotswold stone villages (the Cotswold Way is in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty after all), but the incredible views from the top of the escarpment obviously went under my radar. Seriously, the views took my breath away.
Looking down over the Severn Vale and across to the mountains of Wales will make you feel like lord of all you survey!
I assumed this would be easy terrain and it’s true, The Cotswold Way won’t present too much of a challenge for the seasoned hiker. But don’t take it lightly: there are some serious hills that will give you a good run for your money. Especially if, like me, you go slightly off-path to tackle Ravensgate Hill (SO 978 184) to enjoy the absolutely spectacular views. Then add in the 30-degree heatwave we had when I hiked it and you might find it occasionally gets the better of you!
This is a great hike for beginners too, with a few challenges that will reward you for all the effort. It’s such a varied landscape from woodlands, rolling hills, farmland, and pretty villages to the bustling city of Georgian Bath at the end. I absolutely loved it, and I’m sure you will too.
Are you ready to hike the Cotswold Way? Then dive into my guide and get planning!
I share all my experience of the Cotswold Way here, including wild camping, daily miles, how much it cost, how to get to the trail, and so on.
Right, let’s get on!
The Cotswold Way – Ultimate Guide For Hikers
- Where Does The Cotswold Way Start And End?
- How Long Does It Take To Hike The Cotswold Way? My Daily Miles
- Getting To And From The Trail Public Transport
- Hiking The Cotswold Way On A Tight Budget (My Costs And Where I Overspent)
- Can You Wild Camp On The Cotswold Way?
- Campsites On The Cotswold Way
- My Kit List For Camping On The Cotswold Way
- Finding Food And Water Along The Cotswold Way Cafes, Pubs and Water Stops
- Is The Cotswold Way Signposted? (Signs, Maps And Guides)
- The End! What’s At The End Of The Cotswold Way National Trail?
- Anything Else You’d Like To Know About Hiking The Cotswold Way?
Where Does The Cotswold Way Start And End?
The trail starts in the beautiful Cotswold town of Chipping Campden and ends in the magnificent city of Bath.
The traditional way to hike the Cotswold Way is from north to south, which makes perfect sense. Here’s why.
Why Is It Best To Go From North To South? (Chipping Campden To Bath)
There’s nothing to stop you from hiking the trail from south to north of course, but finishing it in the buzzing city centre of Bath is definitely the way to go. The trail comes to an end right outside Bath Abbey with the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms in the same square, and the sense of excitement is huge. You’ll finish the Cotswold Way on a real high, and who doesn’t love that feeling at the end of a long-distance hike!
Going from South To North And Finishing In Chipping Campden
Beginning your hike in Bath and heading to Chipping Campden means you’ll start the Cotswold Way with arguably the best Cotswold scenery towards the finish. And whilst this way round will fill you with anticipation, arriving in Chipping Campden might feel like a bit of a disappointment, beautiful as it is. Why? Because it’s sleepy and quiet in comparison to Bath and there’s none of the grandeur that makes you feel like you’ve done something epic. And walking 100 miles is definitely epic!
Ultimately though, the choice is yours.
How Long Does It Take To Hike The Cotswold Way?
My Daily Miles
It’s not always easy to work out an itinerary, but one of the first things I did was add in an extra day. I did this because it gave me leeway if things went wrong – like issues with public transport or being ill (which I’d experienced on my South Downs Way hike). And if things go right, well then I’ve got the flexibility to take in some detours along the way.
The next thing I did was work out how many miles I wanted to do on the days of travel, based on the time of arrival and departure. My plan was to arrive in Moreton-in-Marsh in the early afternoon, walk about 8 miles to the start of the trail in Chipping Campden, and then hit the trail for about 4 miles or so. (As it happened my train arrived 2.5 hours late…) I wanted to spend a few hours in Bath on the final day so I decided on a maximum hike of 10 miles before catching my 4pm train.
Next, I took away the hiking miles on travel days from the total trail miles: 102 – 14 = 88 miles. Then I divided 88 miles by the average number of miles I thought I’d like to walk each day, in this case around 17 miles per day: 88/17 = 5.1 days. So far I have 2 days for travel/hiking + 5 days for hiking + an extra day = 8 days. It was probably a day too many, but whatever, it wasn’t a race and I got to take plenty of siesta’s in the searing heat!
With all this in mind, I worked out a flexible itinerary that looked like this:
- Day 1: 8 mile walk-in (stunning walk from Moreton-in- Marsh railway station) + 4 miles of trail to Broadway area – travel day
- Day 2: 11 miles to Hayes Fruit Farm (Hailes – possible campsite) or 15 miles to south of Winchcombe
- Day 3: 19 miles or 15 miles to National Star College area
- Day 4: 15 miles to Ring Hill area
- Day 5: 15 miles to Dursley area or 16.5 miles to North Nibley Campsite
- Day 6: 15 miles to Chipping Sodbury area or 17 miles to Tormarton pub garden camping
- Day 7: 6 miles to Cold Ashton or 9 miles to Beech Wood
- Day 8: 10 miles from Cold Ashton to Bath or 7 miles from Beech Wood
As you can see, it was pretty flexible (and very easy mileage)!
This is how it panned out:
- Day 1: 8 mile walk-in plus about 2 miles of trail to Dover Hill area – travel day
- Day 2: 14 miles from Dover Hill area to Hayes Fruit Farm Campsite (Haile, near Winchcombe)
- Day 3: 11 miles from Hayes Fruit Farm to south of Cleeve Common
(1/2 day walk plus visit to Hailes Abbey)
- Day 4: 19 miles from south of Cleeve Common to Painswick
- Day 5: 22 miles from Painswick to North Nibley campsite
- Day 6: 18 miles from North Nibley to southwest of Tormarten
- Day 7: 8 miles from southwest of Tormarten to Beech Wood area
1/2 day walk plus visit to Dyrham Park
- Day 8: 7.5 miles from Beech Wood area to Bath – travel day
Tip! The A-Z Adventure Series of National Trail officIal maps has mile markers shown along the entire trail, which means it’s really easy to work out your daily mileage as you’re walking. No string required!
Things I’d Change?
Drop the extra day! Even with fewer miles during the 30-degree heat, I still felt I was holding myself back, especially towards the end of the trail. I think I got travel day mileage spot on though!
Getting To And From The Trail
- Train: The closest railway station is about 6-8 miles away in Moreton-in-Marsh and is operated by GWR.
Getting to Chipping Campden from Moreton-in-Marsh is tricky/expensive:
- Taxi: I was quoted “about £25 – £30” by a taxi driver outside the station
- Bus: There are only three buses running between Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden each day – services 1 and 2 operated by Johnsons Coaches (and I’d missed them because my train arrived 2.5 hours late – I was not a happy bunny!).
- Walk: I decided on a third option: an 8-mile walk from Moreton-In-Marsh railway station to the start of the trail. (I met someone else that had walked in from Moreton-in-Marsh too, and we both thought the trail should officially start there instead!
- Train: Bath Spa railway station (operated by GWR) is a 5-minute walk from the end of the Cotswold Way in Bath city centre, with links to Bristol and mainline stations beyond.
- Coach: National Express Coaches run direct from Bath to destinations around the UK.
- Air: If you’re travelling further afield there are hourly buses from Bath direct to Bristol Airport (details can be found on the airport website).
Find out how to find the nearest railway stations to any trail and get the cheapest tickets with my guide to ‘split-ticketing’
Hiking The Cotswold Way On A Tight Budget
(My Costs – And Where I Overspent)
I had a pretty tight budget for this trip but still managed to spend an absolute fortune on food and drink. There was a heatwave and I had a serious addiction to sugary Coke – a couple of litres a day kind of addiction!
I also had sandwiches and cake at cafes – sometimes I felt obliged as I was sat there for a couple of hours charging my phone, etc, but one of the most unusual hiking spends for me was the ‘admissions’. I decided to visit Hailes Abbey and Dryham Park as they were right on the trail and I’d be unlikely to pass that way again anytime soon (glad I did too).
I seriously need to reign in the cafe visits on future hikes…
Travel – Train
I use the Split Ticketing website to get the best price train travel. The website works out where to split your tickets and where to change trains. I confess though, I take the info to my local station to actually buy the tickets as they can often save me a few more pounds!
- Truro to Moreton-in-Marsh (outward journey): £71.70
- Bath to Truro (return journey: £41.65
- TOTAL: £113.35
- Hayles Fruit Farm: £8.50
- Nibley House: £10.00
- TOTAL: £18.50
Maps And Guides
- A-Z Adventure Series national trail official map: £8.98
- Trailblazer Guide (I read this before I left for the hike and photocopied a few interesting/important parts and taped them in my notebook – in a bid to save weight!): £12.99
- TOTAL: £21.94
Includes coffee, lunches and meals for train travel
- TOTAL: £91.04
- x 1 Hawkesbury Upton
- TOTAL: £4.10
Resupply (mostly Coke/water, snacks, and the odd meal deal)
- TOTAL: £36.72
- Hailes Abbey: £8.50
- Dyrham Park: £13.00
- TOTAL: £21.50
- Can of Gas: TOTAL: £4.00
TOTAL COST: £311.15
That’s an average ‘on-trail’ food cost of £16.48 a day which, for me, is extortionate (I usually try to keep it around £12).
(£91.04 + £4.10 + £36.72 = £131.86/8 = £16.48)
The overall cost of £311.15 was eyewatering but I can pinpoint exactly where the profligacy was:
- The 2 admissions amounting to £21.50 (they were worth every penny though)
- Cafe at Hayles Fruit Farm (£10.14 on beans on toast, coffee, 3 cans of Coke, and a fruit scone!! Pretty good value, but unplanned spending.)
- The National Trust at Dryham Park (£18.25 lunch, soft drink, a couple of coffees and an ice-lolly over the 3 or 4 hours I was there – I nearly died when I added this up!)
- Gloucestershire Wildlife Cafe (£12.60 coffee, Coke, chocolate, soup – good value, but again, unplanned spending.)
All this spending adds up to an overspend of £72.49 (including a waste-of-space campsite at Nibley House – see below) – and if I hadn’t spent that I’d have been more than happy with the £238.66 the hike would have cost.
All the other cafes I visited were the usual coffee and cake (around £5.00), plus a sandwich or similar meals on travel days, which I’d anticipated.
I learnt a valuable lesson on The Cotswold Way: don’t ignore writing down daily spending, lest it gets out of control…
It’s something I’ve always done in the past, and though it felt nice not to, it had some financial consequences that will impact my next hike!
Can You Wild Camp On The Cotswold Way?
Officially? No, not without the landowner’s permission to pitch your tent. And quite honestly you’re not likely to get that in a million years on the Cotswold Way!
If you’re prepared to ‘stealth camp’ though, and wild camp without expecting grand views you’ll find it relatively easy. There are plenty of woodland edges and farm tracks with little verges beside them, old quarries, even discreet roadsides if you don’t mind being a vagrant for the night!
It’s best to think of wild camping on the Cotswold Way as simply a way of getting a few hours sleep before packing up for the next day’s hike.
How I Planned Wild Camping On The Cotswold Way
I always do some research before I leave and look for potential places based on my planned mileage for the day.
I generally look for open access areas on an OS 1:25,000 map and they’re my preferred places. However, Open Access land doesn’t mean you have a right to wild camp there. Open Access land is still owned by someone and all they’ve agreed to is to give you access to walk there (even your dog is meant to be on a lead).
You’ll often find Open Access land is used for grazing livestock from sheep to cattle, so you’ll need to be mindful of this (trust me, it’s no fun waking up with a cow in your face haha!). This is the same with common land (like Cleeve Common for example, about midway on the Cotswold Way). Common land means that particular ‘commoners’ have been granted the right to graze animals there. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a right to walk there, let alone wild camp (Cleeve Common is basically one enormous golf course!).
Using Satellite Images
I use the OS Map app to look at satellite images for places that might offer a bit of scrub to discreetly pitch in, or a woodland edge – and obviously I want somewhere that’s fairly level ground! It’s also good to try and find somewhere away from what could be popular dog-walking paths, and definitely a way outside villages and hamlets.
There are a couple of things that are absolutely essential for anyone planning to wild camp:
Pitch late, leave early, and leave no trace.
Quite often on the Cotswold Way I’d sit in a spot for a while to see what the ‘traffic’ was like. I used the time to cook up a meal and air my feet so that if someone did come along and tell me to move on it wouldn’t be a big deal (in all the years I’ve been wild camping though this has never happened).
When I pack up in the morning I scour the site for even the tiniest thing I might have dropped and make sure I pack it up and take it away.
Going To The Toilet
Something else to bear in mind of course is going to the toilet. I always try and use a public loo, a cafe, or a pub before I get to a potential wild camp spot. But it wasn’t always easy on this trail, or I’d get caught short (it happens to us all!) so I found somewhere discreet off the path and away from water sources.
I took a lightweight trowel (and always do) dug a hole 6″ deep and buried it. I also took along a small amount of toilet tissue and dog poo bags for packing it out. (Poo bags are also good for packing out and disposing your ‘waste’ at the nearest public loo if you can’t dig a cat hole (rocky ground for eg). But I didn’t have this problem on the Cotswold Way.)
Your Ultimate Guide To Wild Camping
I’ve written a comprehensive guide to wild camping as well as a guide to Leave No Trace with 12 practical tips that are worth a read before you leave for any hiking trip.
Campsites On The Cotswold Way
Unfortunately, if you decide wild camping’s not for you, you’ll have a lot more walking to do. There are hardly any campsites within easy walking distance of the Cotswold Way and my research revealed a handful on the trail itself (although I’d been told another possible pitch was an informal stay in a pub garden at the Compass Inn in Tormarton). I stayed at two and both campsites were very basic, but even so, one was great and one…was not.
Hayles Fruit Farm: £8.50
I pitched up at Hayles Fruit Farm near Winchcombe on the 2nd night because I realised I’d be pretty close to it at the end of the day and thought why not! It’s mostly geared up for motorhomes and DofE groups and although extremely basic, the field was level and the facilities spotlessly clean. The facilities included more or less all you can see in the photo: a few portaloos, a couple of ‘portashowers’, a few sheltered sinks for washing up, drinking water taps and fire pits.
There was no socket for charging your electronics or a shelter for drying out. However, there’s a great traditional cafe on-site and you could probably ‘borrow’ a socket there for an hour. Also, there’s an absolutely wonderful farm shop, full of all sorts of deliciousness no hiker should pass up! I picked up fresh strawberries, an apricot, and scones for a picnic at Hailes Abbey (virtually next door), as well as a few other basics for the days ahead. If you’re looking for Cotswold Way camping, this is the one. Nibley House however…
Nibley House: £10.00
I was desperate to charge up my phone so I decided to head to campsite number 2 for the night to get things sorted. So, Nibley House (near Dursley) what can I say?
I couldn’t get hold of them on the phone to book ahead (number not recognised and their own website doesn’t exist) so arrived as a ‘walk-in’; I was offered a pitch not much bigger than my tent beside a dilapidated shed (“you can shelter in there”); I was asked “You don’t want a shower do you? We haven’t got one”; you have access to a toilet and hand basin in the back of the main house that was “put in for wedding receptions, but it’s locked at 10pm”; and er…drinking water? Yeah right. A socket? Don’t make me frickin laugh.
Please note: The Cider Orchard in North Nibley is one and the same as Nibley House (apparently run by the owner’s son).
Absolute shambles. Don’t even think about it. There’s a pub down the road where you can eat and probably charge your phone and there are some great wild camping spots not more than half a mile ahead. As well as saving £10 you won’t have to suffer the bass thumping out of every other campervan in the garden either.
I read this rather sad story about a campervan fire at Nibley House too (August 2021).
Other Potential Campsites On Or Very Near The Cotswold Way
- Cranham Scout Centre (approx. 1.5km off-trail)
- Colgate Farm (quoted as 200m off-trail)
- Kings Stanley (no website) 07769 696 362
- Hunts Court, North Nibley (Dursley) 01453 544 632
My Kit List For Wild Camping On The Cotswold Way
Getting my kit right for this trip was a nightmare: it weighed a tonne! At least, it did until I culled half of what I planned to take – including my sleeping bag. (It was a huge improvement on my packing list for the South Downs Way though, so I must have learnt something!)
The weather forecast finally convinced me to ditch extra clothing, waterproof trousers, and yes, even my sleeping bag. The forecast was for “extreme heat” (Met Office) for most of the week so I knew I’d be carrying lots of water…which meant I could even ditch my enamel mug and hot drinks!
Base Weight: 10.8 kg (base weight excludes food and water)
Gross Weight: 14.3 kg (includes 2L of water, minimum, and dry food at 1.5kg)
Osprey Renn 65 Women’s Specific rucksack (links to my review)
- Wild Country Zephyros 1 tent
- Wild Country tent footprint
- MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove
- Traniga cooking pot with lid and handle
- Titanium spork
- Victorinox Swiss army knife
- Mountain Equipment sleeping mat
- Sea To Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme sleeping bag liner
- 2l bladder
- 750ml Camelback bottle
- Sawyer water filter and squeeze bottle
- 2 blister plasters
- 4 ordinary plasters
- Strip of wound closures
- 1 large self-adhesive dressing
- 1 medium self-adhesive dressing
- 1 safety pin
- Emergency foil blanket
- strip of Ibuprofen
- strip of antihistamine
- tick remover
If you’re not sure what first aid items to pack check out my article What’s In Your Outdoor First Aid Kit?
- Personal medication
- Toilet paper/x4 dog poo bags
- Plastic trowel
- Microfibre towel (doubled as a blanket)
- Sun cream
- Bug spray
- Travel toothpaste
- Small tin Vaseline
- Travel Shampoo
- Travel shower gel
- 2 hair ties
- Few wet wipes
- Face mask
- Hand sanitiser
- Keen walking sandals
- Bamboo socks (when necessary)
- Sports bra
- Mountain Equipment shorts
- Mountain Equipment T-shirt
- Alpine Lowe cap
Clothes (Packed in a Sea-To-Summit Dry Bag)
- Ayacucho waterproof jacket
- Pair of M&S merino tights (sleep)
- Mountain Equipment long-sleeve T-shirt (sleep/travel home)
- Rab padded gilet (doubled as a pillow)
- 1 pr bamboo socks
- 3 pairs knickers
- Anker battery bank with cable and fast charger
- Sony Experia phone/camera
- Bluetooth remote
- Selfie stick (also used as a tripod)
- Fitness watch and cable
- Petzl headtorch in case (the case adds 63g, but I love it and it diffuses the light in the tent – also, it was a gift from my son…and most importantly, it’s orange haha!)
- Webbing strap (for tent/spare)
- Personal alarm
- Waist belt
- Debit cards, train tickets and small amount of cash (around £15)
- Reading glasses in a soft case
- A-Z Adventure Series National Trail map booklet
- Clear map case
- Compass and magnifying glass
- Plastic peg
- Plastic food bag clip
- Binbag for tent
- Various food bags for packing
- Journal/sketchbook and 3 drawing pens
- Sun umbrella for the extreme heat/rain showers
- Pair of 18-year-old walking poles
Check out my gear reviews of kit that I’ve had real experience of using – hopefully my recommendations will help you make some good buying decisions!
Kit I Took But Didn’t Use And Kit I Wish I’d Had
I took but didn’t use:
- Sawyer water filter and squeeze bottle: I didn’t find many streams along the way
- Spares/First Aid: tick remover, wound closures, safety pin, foil blanket
- Bluetooth remote
- Personal Alarm
- Compass and magnifying glass
Of all the things I didn’t use, the only thing I’d actually leave behind is the water filter.
Kit I wish I’d Had:
- I tried taking far fewer Compeed blister plasters than I needed and really regret this, two were nowhere near enough – and they don’t exactly weigh much do they!
- A lighter-weight notebook/sketchbook, and pencils rather than pens
- I was a bit cold a couple of nights and wished I had my sleeping bag at the time, but on the whole, I think I’d rather have been a bit cold than carry the extra weight (750g) in the 30-degree heat I had some days!
Things I plan to invest in sooner rather than later:
- A much lighter weight sleeping mat
- I desperately need a new, warmer lighter-weight sleeping bag (mine’s 18 years old) but quite honestly I just can’t afford it atm.
- Lightweight walking poles – again mine are 18 years old and they’ve lasted really well, but they weigh a ton compared to what’s on the market these days.
Amendments To The Gross Weight:
I couldn’t believe it, but I came home with 663g of food I didn’t eat (mostly because I was too hot to care about eating). I took 6 days’ worth of porridge and dried evening meals and honestly, I think I ate about 3 main meals and a similar number of breakfasts. (The porridge was pretty rank tbh.)
I have a tendency to overpack food, usually in a bid to save money buying it on trail, (yeah, like that worked this time round haha!) but next time I plan to take 3 or 4 of each for a week. No more.
Finding Food And Water Along The Cotswold Way
Cafes, Pubs and Water Stops
I planned to cook my own breakfasts and main meals (and carried enough for every day on trail), but inevitably I didn’t eat them all! Sometimes I just couldn’t be bothered to eat at all, but mostly I love trying out local cafes (when I can find them as I’m passing through). Here are some that I tried along the way, as well as places I used for resupply.
Tried and Tested!
- No. 32 Broadway was wonderful! Great coffee, lovely modern atmosphere, and friendly staff – I even had a chat with a member of staff that had just finished the Cotswold Way himself! No pressure to rush and I was offered water to take with me without asking.
- Hayles Fruit Farm Farm Shop, near Winchcombe. A large traditional cafe (with inside and outside seating) serving breakfasts, lunches, etc, plus coffee, tea and cake. There’s a large selection of cold drinks and ice cream too.
- Dursley The town centre is a bit ‘down at heel’, but there’s a large Sainsbury’s just off the main street, as well as The Bank cafe (good coffee and cake and a chance to charge your electronics), pubs and a few fast food places.
- Crickley Hill Visitor Centre Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Excellent cafe with inside and outdoor seating
- Dyrham Park National Trust Cafe with indoor and outdoor seating (you may have to pay to enter the Park though (£13). I did sneak in unintentionally though as I walked up the bridleway rather than arrive via the large car park well away from the house and cafe. But I paid my dues once I realised!). I charged my phone and battery bank.
- Bath Everything you’d expect from a city! (I bought sandwiches and charged my phone in Pret and Cafe Neros, both close to Bath Abbey and Bath Spa railway station)
- Beaufort Arms, Hawkesbury Upton (a short walk off-trail). I had coffee, crisps, and a pint of blackcurrant soda! They serve meals but I arrived just after the kitchen closed on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a traditional pub and apparently, they serve quite a few walkers as well as locals. I sat for an hour or so and charged my phone.
- Moreton-in-Marsh A large Co-op near the railway station to stock up before you head off to Chipping Campden
- Chipping Campden I used the Co-op on the high street, but I also noticed pubs, restaurants and cafes
- Hayles Fruit Farm Farm Shop, Hailes, near Winchcombe A large shop selling fresh fruit and veg as well as canned and dried goods, bread, cake, biscuits, and ‘tourist treats’
- Wotton-Under-Edge Excellent local shopping facilities including a Co-op, Tesco Express, Parsons bakers (I had a fantastic meal deal here) and fruit and veg shops, as well as cafes and pubs. NB, a lot of local shops are closed/open late on Sundays.
- Winchcombe Good high street with a convenience store, cafes, pubs, etc
- King Stanley Another ‘down at heel’ village, but there was a good Co-op and a pub (which was closed down when I passed through, but I was told new owners were moving in imminently), plus a small newsagent.
Other places to eat, drink, resupply, and charge your electronics that I saw along the way (not tried and tested!)
- Broadway Tower Cafe
- Broadway Cafes, pubs, restaurants, etc (didn’t see a convenience store, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t one somewhere nearby)
- North Nibley Pub
- Stanton Village shop and pub
- Painswick I passed through early but it looked as though there were a few local shops and cafes, although I didn’t see any convenience stores
- Tormarton Pubs
I’m sure there are others, especially if you’re prepared to head off-trail. Large towns a few miles off-trail include Cheltenham and Stroud.
Is The Cotswold Way Signposted?
(Signs, Maps And Guides)
Yes! In fact this must be the best-signposted national trail I’ve hiked to date. There are finger posts at most junctions and arrows on gates and stiles most of the way (all with the national trail acorn symbol). But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little bit ‘lost’…
During the summer and more leafy times of the year, some signs can easily be missed because they’re hiding behind overgrown hedgerows or buried in a thicket of brambles. But it won’t be long before you realise you haven’t seen a sign for a while and can backtrack to get on the trail again. (Another way to miss the signs is to walk with your head down or behind your sun umbrella all the time! Did I mention it was 30 degrees?!)
Even though the trail is well-signposted it’s worth taking a map or having something like the OS Map App on your phone. That said, I managed to lose my map, drain my phone battery and realise my battery bank was dead all within an hour. I never felt so naked in all my life!
It wasn’t easy to charge my phone or find somewhere to buy a map so I walked about 16 miles of the Cotswold Way relying solely on the signposts and waymarks. Lesson learnt: never take the map off from around your neck, even if it is annoying in the heat!
Maps And Guide Books
I highly recommend the A-Z Adventure Series official national trail map. It’s a comfortable size booklet with OS 1:25,000 mapping with the trail highlighted in yellow. The trail has mile markers indicated along the entire length and there’s also a route planner in the back, which you might find really useful.
- I love the Trailblazer series of guidebooks and the Guide to the Cotswold Way is no exception. The latest edition was published in 2019. There’s a fantastic series of large-scale hand-drawn maps, extensive information on accommodation, places to see or visit, plus wildlife and history – and so much more!
- OS Maps App. Including downloadable OS maps. I have the premium subscription which includes the awesome 1:25,000 maps. Perfect for following the red arrow through the city streets of Bath, where the national trail signposting is a bit lacking.
- Compass. It’s unlikely you’ll need it on this trail, but I never go anywhere without one, just in case!
What’s At The End Of The Cotswold Way National Trail?
Bath is full of amazing things to see and do, from Bath Abbey itself to the Roman Baths, museums and galleries. Make sure you take some time to wander around and soak up the atmosphere, even if you don’t feel like being a regular tourist.
And of course, if you didn’t blow your budget in cafes along the way, there are plenty of eateries and pubs to celebrate the end of your adventure too.
You might want to wash your armpits first though!
Anything Else You’d Like To Know About Hiking The Cotswold Way?
I’d love to know if you’re planning to do this hike too! If I’ve missed anything out that you’d like to know, or you’ve hiked it already and got something to add, leave a comment below!
Also, don’t forget I’ll be adding more posts about the Cotswold Way very soon, so why not sign up for my update so you don’t miss them? I’d love to keep in touch with you!
Pssst! Found this guide helpful? Please share!
Don’t forget to check out my other guides to the Cotswold Way to help you plan your hike:
Thank you for all of this great info! I am planning on hiking this route soon.
I was wondering what, in your opinion, is the best time of year to do the walk?
Thank you so much Jack, I’m really glad you found it helpful! I did it in the height of summer and it was glorious – loads of wild flowers and butterflies, the colour of the sun on the stone… And clear days meant views for miles.
If you’re thinking about doing it this year I’d say autumn. There are quite a few woodlands and I reckon they’ll be amazing. It’s still pretty mild too. There are probably some areas that are quite exposed though (so likely windy), like the escarpment over Cheltenham. I’d try and go for a time of year when you’re you’re more likely to get good visibility becasue you really can see for miles and it’d be a shame to miss them.
I don’t think you’ll have problems with resupply at any time of year – there are plenty of towns and villages along the way.
Let me know when you head off and how it goes, I hope you have a great time!