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  • Writer's pictureHiker Heather

Cotswold Way: Winter Edition

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

A blog detailing my hike of the Cotswold Way in winter to include my itinerary, information about the trail and wild camping spots.

As I sit here writing this blog, it is 13th February 2022, two days after completing my winter hike of the Cotswold Way. When setting out on the Cotswold Way on 31st January, I had intended to complete the hike in one thru-hike, however, mother nature had different plans for me, meaning that I had to get off the trail for a few days whilst the storm and wind subsided. I therefore completed my hike of the Cotswold Way in two sections.


Whilst the wind and storms meant that I had to come off the trail, I was otherwise blessed by the weather, I mean you should probably take that comment lightly, I am from the North so I probably have a slightly warped perception of what 'good weather' actually is! Weather aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my winter hike of the Cotswold Way but perhaps the man in the B&B in Painswick was correct, that thru-hikes of this nature in winter are for the 'fool-hardy' only... I can certainly see the appeal of doing this trail in the spring, or even summer if you can handle the hot weather, unlike me!


Anyway, lets get into the details....


About the Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way is a 102 mile trail and is one of the National Trails. The trail usually starts in the quintessentially English market town of Chipping Campden in the north, finishing in the historic city of Bath in the south, however, the trail can of course be hiked in either direction, I chose to hike from north to south.


The trail has 4,160 m / 13,650 ft of ascent and 4,275 m / 14,025 ft of descent in total!


The Cotswold Way has existed as a promoted long-distance hike for around 52 years now! The trail follows the escarpment down its western ridge with amazing views across the Severn Vale towards the Welsh hills with Neolithic burial barrows, stately homes and historic battle sites along the way. You walk through honey-coloured villages and cute little market towns, finishing in the historic city of Bath.

Access to and from the Trail

Chipping Campden is not the easiest of places to get to, unfortunately. I drove to Moreton-in-Marsh which is the closest train station to Chipping Campden, I left my car in the train station car park (at a heavy cost) and then took the bus to Chipping Campden. You can of course take the train to Moreton-in-Marsh and then the bus to Chipping Campden but it will depend on whether you can get a train to align with the irregular bus times...


Some people do also chose to walk from Moreton-in-Marsh to Chipping Campden, I have heard that this makes for a nice 10 mile or so addition to the trail.


Return travel from Bath is much easier as Bath is served by a large train station and bus station etc. My plan would be to travel from Bath by train to Moreton-In-Marsh to collect my car at the end of the trail.

Itinerary

My itinerary for this trail is somewhat fractured, for the reasons as set out above, however, this was the itinerary I used -


Day 1 - Chipping Campden to Broadway Coppice (7 miles)

I arrived in Moreton-in-Marsh at around lunchtime to get the bus to Chipping Campden meaning that I was hitting the trail at about 2.30pm on that day, this left me with only a couple of walking hours before it got dark. Leaving the beautiful Chipping Campden behind, I made my way on the trail up to the iconic Broadway Tower and then down into Broadway itself, I then made my way up out of Broadway into a wooded area called Broadway Coppice at Mile 7, at which point it was starting to get dark so I decided to set camp.


Day 2 - Broadway Coppice to near Belas Knap Long Barrow (13 miles)

Leaving my camp the following morning, I continued on the Way through farmland, the track then takes you into Stanton, a sweet little village with honey-coloured cottages. For refreshments there is the Mount Inn, however, this was closed when I passed in the morning. I followed more farmland until eventually reaching Winchcombe where I had lunch at Food Fanatics. I carried on past Winchcombe and headed up and out of the village, gradually leading up to Belas Knap Long Barrow where I camped in the wooded area just before reaching Belas Knap, there was a bushcraft shelter deep in the woods where I set camp.


Day 3 - Belas Knap Long Barrow to near Leckhampton Hill - (15 miles)

Passing Belas Knap, a Neolithic burial chamber, you then continue though farmland until reaching the highest section of the Way, Cleeve Common and Cleeve Hill itself. I stopped for breakfast at Cleeve Hill Golf Club. Continuing passed nature reserves, through woodland, the path then rises along the scarp edge of Charlton Kings Common to Hartley Hill, I had planned to go further this day, however, I found a perfect wild camp spot at mile 35, just near Leckhampton Hill. The wild camping spots in this area are beautiful and plentiful!


Day 4 - Leckhampton Hill to Painswick - (11 miles)

Not long after leaving my previous night's pitch, the Way brought me to the Crickley Hill Country Park where I have breakfast at their cafe. Here you continue on to Crickley Hill and then down into some woodland. Further along the trail you come to The Cheese Rolling Hill - Cooper's Hill! That hill is seriously steep and if you participate in the cheese rolling event then you must be completely bonkers/ hard as nails, that is 'neck breakingly' steep stuff! The route continues through further woodland, eventually taking you onto a golf course and then down into Painswick. Painswick has a shop, a pub and a couple of B&B's. I stayed in one of the B&B's to get my gear dried off and batteries charged (literally and metaphorically).


The following morning, I once again (as always) checked the weather which was now showing that we were due 50mph winds, I therefore made the decision to get off the trail at Painswick and return home and wait for the weather to subside. I then re-joined the trail the following week, picking the trail back up at Painswick, leaving my car in the Ramblers Car Park in Painswick (at my own risk, of course).


Day 5 - Painswick to Uley Long Barrow (16 miles)

Joining back on the trail, in the village of Painswick, where I had left some days earlier due to the weather, I continued on the trail, passing through farmland and woodland paths, the rain started to pour but it didn't dampen my spirits. I eventually arrived at Haresfield Beacon with amazing panoramic views surrounding me. At the junction in the trail near Westrip, I came slightly off the trail to go to The Carpenters Arms in Westrip for some lunch. I then carried on the trail through Kings Stanley and more woodland before reaching Uley Long Barrow, where I decided to set camp for the day.


Day 6 - Uley Long Barrow to Tormarton (21 miles)

This would be a long day, I passed through Dursley, eventually then passing through Wotton-under-Edge, through woodland and farmland and Dodington Park some time later arriving into Tormarton. I chose to stay at the Compass Inn which is just slightly off the trail. I am of the understanding that the Compass Inn also allow you to camp in their grounds for a small donation.


Day 7 - Tormarton to Bath (19 miles)

Leaving Tormarton, you pass through farmland for quite some time, also passing small villages, such as Pennsylvania which has a petrol station, if you require anything at this stage. With wide views ahead, I continued on to my final descent down into Bath itself, walking past the magnificent Royal Crescent and the Circus soon arriving at the end of the Cotswold Way, Bath Abbey! What a place to end a wonderful trail, absolute magic!

Facilities/ Accommodation/ Food and Drink

I cant help but feel that this is one of the National Trails that is more accommodating for those hikers that prefer to stay in hotels and B&Bs each night. There was little in terms of natural water sources, meaning that you had to rely on shops or asking cafes etc to fill up your water bottle, which is never ideal and this trail is most certainly not the South Downs Way with its conveniently placed water taps (!). My advice if you do plan to wild camp the entire Way, is to factor into your itinerary exact places where you know you will be able to get water, I certainly struggled with the water situation on this trail which is not, thankfully, something I have struggled with in the past.


You do pass villages or at least a pub on most days, be sure to check the location of said pubs and shops, however, as quite often you will need to take a small detour, hence the prior planning as to water stops would be highly beneficial.


In the spring and summer, you may wish to use the luggage transfer services if you are staying in hotels and B&Bs, meaning that you don't have to carry your luggage for the duration of your stay.


The Way is not facilitated by campsites for the whole trail, there are a couple of campsites along the Way but you would struggle to stay in campsites for the entire trail simply due to the limited number of them on trail.

Navigation

Since the Cotswold Way is a National Trail, it is extremely well waymarked by the traditional acorn (as pictured above and below). Generally, if you go more than 500 metres without seeing a waymark then you know that you are on the wrong track!


In addition to this, I used the Cicerone guidebook and map (which you can purchase here).


In terms of GPS, I used the FarOut App (previously called GutHook). The FarOut App is good in that it allows users to add comments from their time on the trail, this can be helpful as it will let you know if for example a shop or cafe is shut, it will let you know about shops, pubs etc in the area and so much more. I always use the FarOut App if they have the particular trail that I am undertaking on there.


If you wish to download GPX files to your own App or GPS device then you can use the following link to download - GPX for Cotswold Way

If you have any questions about the Cotswold Way or anything else then please do use the contact form to drop me a line, I will get back to you as soon as possible.


You can follow my adventures live over on my Instagram @hiker_heather . My stories from my trail are saved into my highlights as 'Cotswold Way' for you to watch at your convenience.



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