The Cotswold Way, one of England’s many long-distance footpaths, runs 97 miles from Chipping Campden to the beautiful city of Bath. The route is rich in history, gentle countryside and charming villages made from the creamy Cotswold stone. These “picture postcard” villages are what give the Cotswold its identity.
The route traces a limestone escarpment that faces west and is seldom far from civilization and is generally easy to follow.
For history lovers the attractions are many. In remote settings are barrows where Neolithic tribes buried their leaders as well as Norman churches and religious institutions such as Hailes Abbey.
After the Normans, England became known worldwide for its excellent wool and nowhere was that wealth more apparent than in the Cotswolds. Many rich wool merchants built lovely homes in such towns as Chipping Campden and Painswick. It may not be the center of the world’s wool market today, but sheep are still important and part of the landscape.
Apart from picturesque villages, the Cotswold Way takes the walker through green countryside, through deep forest and along the limestone path to its destination in the glorious city of Bath. What a fitting finale it is. You find yourself out in the country, then over a rise and there it is. To finish in Bath is to finish in style. Don’t be in a hurry to leave as Bath provides much in history, architecture and culture. In essence, it’s a great place to celebrate your accomplishment.
Book your lodging well ahead since this is a popular area for walkers and sight-seers alike especially in the summer.
HOW IT STACKS UP
If you love green grass, lots of woods, charming “Miss Marple” villages, gentle countryside and easy to moderate trails, this is what you’ll find in the Cotswold. I did find it a bit too near civilization in the middle, but don’t let that deter you. This is a fairly easy route to follow and is easy on the eyes. The Cotswold is popular with tourists and walkers alike and there is ample lodging. It is more expensive than other parts of England and definitely more upscale although our most memorable night was in a large estate house that seemed to be keeping itself afloat by offering lodging to walkers. The place was huge. With all it’s past grandeur, it was cluttered, not exactly clean and lacked a lot of amenities such as working lightbulbs. Still, it was fun. I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there a week, but one night was an adventure.