- Walk amidst ancient beech trees, pretty meadows and quiet woodland trails
- Explore gorgeous honey-coloured villages and medieval market towns
- Indulge in exceptional local cuisine at posh gastro pubs and restaurants along the way
- Begin your walk in Stratford-upon-Avon – the birthplace of William Shakespeare
- Marvel at the ancient history of the area including the Neolithic burial mounds of Belas Knap
- Look out for butterflies at the two butterfly conservation reserves the trail passes through
Our specially-designed northern Cotswolds walking itinerary begins in Stratford-upon-Avon, recognisable for its distinctive timber-framed Tudor houses and as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We follow the famous Monarch’s Way — the escape route used by King Charles II after his defeat by Cromwell — to join the Cotswold Way at Chipping Campden. This stunning region is home to chocolate-box villages surrounded by picture-perfect countryside.
This is quintessential England as described in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie. Discover the delightful honey-coloured villages of Stanton and Painswick for which the Cotswolds is famous. Meander through a patchwork of sheep-dotted fields, see miles of enchanting dry stone walls and enjoy quiet country lanes.
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Day 1: Arrive Stratford-upon-Avon
Make your way to the flower-filled medieval market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Explore its Shakespeare theme with a visit to Sharespeare’s Birthplace and his wife Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Depending on timing, you may be able to take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. You can also visit the Holy Trinity Church, Shakespeare’s final resting place.
Day 2: Stratford-upon-Avon to Chipping Campden (24km)
- Ascent 194m
- Descent 93m
Today you begin your Cotswold adventure beginning with a short walk along the River Avon and following the Monarch’s Way to Chipping Campden. At the end, you’ll find a tiny historic market town with stunning examples of Cotswold stone craftsmanship and a history steeped in wool trading. Chipping Campden is extraordinarily beautiful and one of the loveliest Cotswolds villages, so try to make time to savour the numerous tea shops, attractive high street stores and storybook cottages.
Day 3: Chipping Campden to Stanton (16km)
- Ascent 405m
- Descent 400m
Today you’ll walk up and along the Cotswold escarpment. Take in the lovely views over splendid countryside from Dovers Hill. The walk takes you past Broadway Tower, a folly built in 1799. Here you’re at the second highest point of the walk (312m). Enjoy a break at the cafe, before continuing to Stanton through stunning countryside with rolling sheep-filled farmland and pretty barns. Idyllic honey-coloured Stanton remains almost unchanged for over 300 years and has been described as the ‘most ridiculously beautiful’ village in the Cotswolds.
Day 4: Stanton to Cleeve Hill (21km)
- Ascent 575m
- Descent 370m
Walk through lovely meadowland before passing the grand 16th-century Stanway House. It’s hidden from view behind golden stone walls, but famous for its stately Jacobean gatehouse. The path begins a steady climb with respite found at the wonderfully-named Pinky Dickins bench before following the escarpment to Beckbury Camp — an Iron Age hill fort. The trail passes the ruins of 13th-century Hailes Abbey. This was once a pilgrimage destination before being destroyed under the reign of Henry VIII. From here, descend into bustling Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle before the path rises on gentle trails to the highest point (325m) of the walk at Cleeve Hill Common. Here you can look out to the River Severn and Wales. You’ll also pass by Belas Knap, an interesting Neolithic ancient burial mound with four chambers. It’s a worthwhile place to take a break.
Day 5: Cleeve Hill to Birdlip (25km)
- Ascent 595m
- Descent 615m
The trail continues along the Cotswold escarpment with highlights including gorgeous views over spa town Cheltenham and beyond. Enjoy glorious woodland walking surrounded by bluebells, wild garlic and ancient beech trees. You’ll also find two designated reserves harbouring rare butterflies. Near Leckhampton, keep a lookout for the distinctive limestone rock formation known as the Devil’s Chimney. As you near Birdlip you’ll pass Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake, a ‘biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest‘, which embraces an abundance of orchids, flowers, herbs, butterflies, snails and moths.
Day 6: Birdlip to Painswick (14km)
- Ascent 575m
- Descent 685m
The trail descends from Birdlip through beautiful beech woodlands before climbing to Coopers Hill. This hill is famous for its annual cheese-rolling event. Fun facts — the event dates back to the 1700s, and the cheese rolls down the hill at approximately 70kph. The path leads to Painswick Beacon where there are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort. Historic Painswick is often referred to as “The Queen of the Cotswolds”. This town is one of the best-preserved villages in the Cotswolds and famous for its Rococo Gardens and 99 yew trees surrounding St Mary’s church. According to legend, should a 100th tree grow, the Devil would pull it out.
Today your Cotswold Way adventure ends after breakfast. You may wish to consider extending your stay to further the charming area.
***IMPORTANT – Please note accommodation along the Cotswold Way is limited, so daily distances may vary from that in your walk notes depending on where your accommodation is located and if you take any optional diversions***
Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing. As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.
Please note that completing this booking form does not guarantee confirmation of your trip. Confirmation is subject to availability so please refrain from booking flights and other travel arrangements until you have received confirmation from a RAW Travel staff member.
From May 8th to October 1st 2020 our special offer of $1 deposit applies to new bookings made in this period for website trips*. $1 is all you will pay in 2020 for trips departing in 2021.
From January 1st 2021 we will invoice you the remainder of the standard deposit ($499*) and the remaining balance payment at the standard 2 months before departure. All your arrangements will be fully confirmed then, as per usual. The $1 deposit offer does not apply to private groups or significant tailormade trip requests, please speak to one of our consultants if you have any questions.
If Government restrictions don’t allow for any travel in your chosen destination at that time (when the balance is due at 60 days prior to departure) then we will either postpone your trip or allow you to transfer to another destination and trip that has availability instead.
*Note - the standard deposit for Peru Lodge trips is $1000.
- 6 nights in quintessential Cotswold accommodation including small hotels and B&Bs
- Daily breakfast including fresh fruits, yoghurt, cereals and/or a hearty, cooked English breakfast to support your day on the trail
- Pack-free walking with luggage transfers on each hiking day (1 x 20kg bag per person)
- Comprehensive information pack including detailed walk notes, map, luggage tag and laptop case
- 24/7 support from our UK-based RAW Travel staff member
- Pre-trip guidance and planning from experienced and dedicated RAW Travel Destination Experts
- Single supplement $550
- Travel insurance
- Lunch and dinners
Map & Guide
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Sandra Sisson – Operations & Product Specialist
(03) 5976 3763