Discovering the Cotswold countryside on a walking holiday really is the best way if you ask us! Just imagine all the things you’d miss; the wild fungi hidden in fields of bluebells, the sound of trickling streams in the woods, the sweet smell of fresh primroses from nearby meadows. Nature speaks to all the senses and you’d miss out on so much travelling by car with your windows up. So if you’re after the best way to explore the Cotswold countryside, throw on your walking shoes and step outside for an adventure in any weather. Walking or hiking is a great way of reconnecting with the great outdoors, it’s a low impact all-body workout and good for calorie burning, plus it’s suitable for all ages and people of all physical abilities. But best of all, it’s completely free. Nature walking doesn’t cost you a penny. And the views are priceless too. Enjoying the great outdoors is the cheapest and most rewarding thing you can do in the Cotswolds and nothing beats the up close and intimate advantage of surveying the region’s fabulous flora and fauna on two feet. Your boots were made for walking, so come take a walk with us on 17 of the best walks in the local area…
1. The Cotswold Way
This is one of the most iconic walks of our region and we can’t wait to share it with you. It’s known for having spectacular views all year round, so it’s a guaranteed winner no matter the weather. It’s also accessible from many towns and villages and starts at Chipping Campden in the north, running all the way down to Bath Abbey in the south. You can join the trail from Cirencester and take the route down through Kemble, Crudwell, Castle Combe and beyond – or you can head up through Chedworth, Salperton and Barton.
2. Thames Source Walk
For an easy walk that starts from the front door of your cabin on our private reserve, the Thames Source Walk is the perfect early morning challenge that will bring you back just in time for an evening BBQ after an 8 hour round-trip. From Log House Holidays, the 4 mile walk will take you to the source of the River Thames which gurgles out of the ground in the autumn. If you’re enjoying a summer holiday in the Cotswolds the source does dry up but the walk itself is still worth it all the same. If you’re short for time, drive and park up at Kemble, where you’ll be just a few hundred metres from the source. We recommend stopping off at the Wild Duck Inn to refuel at lunchtime – it’s one of our favourite places to eat or grab a refreshing drink.
3. The Winchcombe Way
The Winchcombe Way is an interesting figure-of-eight trail with the pretty town of Winchcombe located at the heart of the loop, making it the perfect starting point or the perfect midway pit stop for some well-deserved pub grub (some of our favourites include The Lion Inn, The Plaisterers Arms and the snug 16th Century Corner Cupboard). The Eastern side of the loop follows Farmcote Valley before taking you through the quiet country lanes of Guiting Wood, continuing along the Cotswold escarpment to the stunning Stanway House and past Hailes Abbey. The Western loop takes you down Langley Hill before continuing to Gretton, Alderton, Alstone and onto Cleeve Common where you will encounter large numbers of ewes with lambs and beautiful wildlife.
4. Bulrushes to Bow Wow
If you want to make the most of your time whilst on a holiday in the Cotswold Water Park, there are so many circular walks that are easy on the joints and suitable for the whole family. The Bulrushes to Bow Wow walking route is a fantastically easy option for all ages and there’s a chance to spot amazing wildlife along the way too. Watch out for Tawny owl chicks, the Black Headed gull, or the Noctule bat and don’t miss out on this walk in the spring when the route is lined with pretty Cowslips and other wild flowers.
5. Three Villages Walk
Another great circular route within the Cotswold Water Park, the Three Villages walk will take you along some of the Thames Path National Trail and will take approximately 3 hours to complete. This is a lovely walk which leads you through three picturesque villages of the Western Water Park; stroll through the charming areas of Ashton Keynes, South Cerney and Somerford Keynes, accessed from the starting point of Neigh Bridge Country Park. Start your walk in the car park heading towards Spine Road and then follow the signs for the Thames Path – the rest of the instructions for this walking route can be downloaded from the Cotswold Waterpark website. Wildlife spotting along the way includes the Tufted Duck, the Burnet Moth, the Lapwing and the Downy Emerald.
6. Log House Holidays Walk
If you don’t want to go far at all, don’t forget about the short circular route which goes around our 100 acre lake right here on the Log House Holidays Nature Reserve. Our family run reserve began in 1980 and we have planted over 44,000 trees, numerous marginal plants and beautiful wildflowers so there’ll be plenty to see on your walk. Set off early morning to catch the sun rise over the lake or take to the outdoors at sunset to watch the orange and red hues transform into twilight as the night rolls in. The land is mostly flat so it’s suitable for kids – and dogs too. Plus you’ll find plenty of places to stop and soak up the incredible views. Look out for the few swing chairs we have hung between trees overlooking the lake views. This is a short and sweet 2 mile track, so it’s ideal to walk off breakfast, lunch or dinner before heading back to enjoy your holiday lodge with hot tub!
7. The Cleveland Walk
The Cleveland Circuit is great on foot or on two wheels and it’s known as one of the most peaceful walks in the Waterpark area. Taking you along the historic Thames Path and meandering around some of the Waterpark’s oldest and most established lakes, it’s sure to provide the perfect views in any season. Start your journey at Waterhay carpark and follow the twists and turns of the Thames Path and take a little diversion up to Reed Hide (a uniquely designed bird hide overlooking swathes of wild reed bed). You can then take the long gravel path (with the large lake on your right) before you reach a gate – turn left at the gate to take you back to your starting point. See details of the full route on the Cotswold Waterpark website.
8. Five Valleys Walk
This 20 mile walk will take you through Chalford, Nailsworth, Ruscombe, Slad and Painswick valleys plus a selection of delightful little villages along the way. This walk is not only beautiful but it’s become an important symbol of charity in our local area and is embarked upon each September in aid of Stroud’s branch of the Meningitis Now organisation. You can take this route any time of year but if you’re here on a September staycation, don’t forget to get involved in the charity event – there’s usually great kids entertainment such as face painting and outdoor games so bring the whole family along!
9. The Gloucestershire Walk
This is a long distance walking route which starts at Chepstow Castle and finishes in Tewkesbury, so you will need to set aside a good few days and do plenty of planning beforehand if you want to walk the whole way. It’s almost 100 miles long in total and will set you along the stunning Welsh-English border with a magical trail through the ancient Forest of Dean and across the iconic River Severn before taking you across the hills of Crickley Hill and Salperton. The best way to tackle this route is to break it down into short sections – you’ll find plenty of great Cotswold pubs and tea rooms to refuel during pit stops.
10. The Blossom Trail
We love the Blossom Trail in the Vale of Evesham and if you’re here in the spring time, it really is something you must see for yourself. From mid-March to mid-May, the pink and white blossom trees are in full bloom so it’s a colourful walk for those who appreciate nature. This is an 8 mile loop, it’s easy enough for all ages and abilities, and it’s conveniently signposted. The Blossom Trail is also a popular route for cycling and within the trail, there are 3 separate walking routes for you to choose from.
11. Tetbury to Westonbirt
One of our favourite local attractions here in the Cotswolds is the Westonbirt Arboretum and we always recommend it to the families and groups who stay at our reserve and are looking for things to do in the region. It’s also a perfect spot to head to if you are on a romantic weekend holiday with us. If you want to combine a good 2 to 3 hour walk with a tour of this stunning Forestry Commission owned site, this walk is the perfect activity any day of the week. The route itself is very flat so it’s gentle on the joints and easy enough for kids and teens to take part in, and the highlight of the walk of course awaits at Westonbirt – but there’s much to see along the way too. The 600 acre National Arboretum is home to more than 15,000 tree specimens from all over the globe so it’s a fun day out for learning and exploring.
12. The George Watkins Walk
Starting your route at the Stirrup Cup Inn in Bisley, this walk will take you through the beautiful Toadsmoor Valley and although the terrain has some challenges en-route with some strenuous climbs, the views really will be worth it. The reason why this route has to make our list of great walks is because it offers so much variety in terms of sights, landscapes and terrain – there’s a little bit of everything and you should even be prepared for a little mud when you reach Toadsmoor Pond. So if it’s wet and drizzly, bring your walking wellies!
13. The Diamond Way
Shaped like a rough diamond, this extensive route covering 65 miles weaves through the region’s quiet public footpaths and allows you to explore the many chocolate box villages that you may not otherwise get to discover. The Diamond Way takes you from Northleach in the South all the way to Chipping Campden in the north, as well as Guiting Power in the west and Bourton on the Water in the east. First mapped out by the Ramblers’ North Cotswold Group to celebrate its 60th Jubilee back in 1995, this stunning route has become an important part of the Cotswold’s very recent history.
14. Bourton-on-the-Water and Wyck Rissington Jubilee Walk
This walk is easy to moderate in terms of difficulty but Wyck Rissington can get pretty muddy so be prepared to get dirty – wellies and waterproofs are definitely recommend if it’s a wet day! There’s also a climb and descent of 37 metres so it’s a great workout for your legs. The highlights of this walk include the River Windrush, River Eye, River Dickler, Salmonsbury Meadows Nature Reserve and a maze inside a church – so there’s lots to see.
15. The Wychavon Way Walk
The Wychavon Way walking route was first opened in 1977 and received a makeover in 2012 for the celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee, with some exciting route changes and a brand new guidebook to mark the occasion. This popular route is still a favourite amongst local ramblers and tourists who visit the area and will lead you through pretty villages, spectacular hills with amazing vantage points, flower meadows (beautiful in the spring) and through riverside pastures. This route begins at Droitwich Spa and finishes in Broadway.
16. The Leckhampton Loop
Looking for a dog friendly walking holiday? This walk is one of our favourites with the dogs and offers everything from beautiful villages and pristine woodland to ancient ruins and animal friendly pubs en-route! Because much of the route is covered by woods, you and your pups will have some nice shelter from the elements when the weather gets cold and wet – or perhaps a little shade from the hot summer sun. This easy loop is around 4.5 miles in total and is gentle enough for dogs as well as kids.
17. Stanton, Snowshill & Stanway
This 8 miles route is a winner for both pups and pubs! Whether you’re looking for a suitable walk to take your dogs or you’re after a bit of a countryside pub crawl, we couldn’t recommend this walk more. It’s a popular route for those who love tasting local brews and fabulous local food at classic Cotswold pubs and best of all, it takes you through two of the most stunning Cotswold villages in the area. Both Stanton and Snowshill are famous for their incredible manor houses and you will also get to see the hamlet of Stanway with its beautiful Jacobean mansion, Stanway House. Begin your pub journey at The Mount Inn in Stanton and pop into the Snowshill Arms along the way.
For more ideas on what to do in our local area, where to walk / cycle, and what towns to visit, head over to our Ultimate Online Guide to the Cotswolds. Or to find out more about what you can do on our private 100 acre lake, take a look at our lake activities.
Whatever you end up doing the day, tired feet will always look forward to this…