The Cotswold Way is a classic English walk. Crossing through one of the most beautiful areas of the country, the walk takes in not only stunning scenery but also some of the most beautiful villages in England. The Cotswold Way traditionally begins in Chipping Campden and winds it way to the famous village of Bath. The route is generally walked over the course of 6 – 10 days, with eight days seeming to suit most walkers.
As with many of England’s National Trails you’ll find plenty of accommodation options along the route including hotels, B&Bs, and simple bunkhouses. The following post will introduce you to the Cotswold Way through in-depth maps, navigational resources, and more!
Let’s get started.
In this post
- Where is the Cotswold Way?
- Interactive Cotswold Way map
- How long is the Cotswold Way?
- Cotswold Way Elevation Profile
- Which maps should I carry on the Cotswold Way?
- Stage-by-stage maps for the Cotswold Way
- Cotswold Way GPS/GPX
- Apps and offline mapping
Where is the Cotswold Way?
The Cotswold Way crosses England’s Cotswolds, located in southwestern England, and connects Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south. Much of the walk crosses the Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and takes walkers through countless charming villages.
The route can be walked in either direction, and you’ll find that there is no definitive traditional way. It seems equally popular to walk from north to south as to walk from south to north. We have described it here in the north to south direction, but the information is still relevant for those starting in Bath and walking north to Chipping Campden.
The Cotswold Way is accessed relatively easily from the rest of the UK, with public transport connections frequent. The one minor inconvenience comes in reaching Chipping Campden, which does not have a rail line. If you’re planning to take public transportation to get to or from here you’ll need to utilize the bus at the northern end of the walk.
In the south, the nearest large city to Bath is Bristol, and in the north the nearest large city to Chipping Campden is Birmingham.
As you wind your way along the Cotswold Way you’ll take in pastoral countryside, exceedingly quaint villages, and beautiful buildings constructed out of the famous Cotswold stone. Highlights of the Cotswold Way include Bath Abbey, Roman ruins, and the Tyndale Monument.
We recommend walking the Cotswold Way over eight stages, although you could certainly complete it in fewer days for those with less time or extend it to 10 or more days if you prefer a slower pace.
Below is the standard route from north to south on the Cotswold Way:
- Stage 1: Chipping Campden to Stanton
- Stage 2: Stanton to Cleeve Hill
- Stage 3: Cleeve Hill to Birdlip
- Stage 4: Birdlip to Painswick
- Stage 5: Painswick to King’s Stanley
- Stage 6: King’s Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge
- Stage 7: Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton
- Stage 8: Tormarton to Bath
In addition to the standard walking route described and shown in the map above, the Cotswold Way features several short detours and alternative routes to showcase the surrounding area.
These alternate routes include:
- Korea Friendship Trail: Stinchcombe Hill – The Korea Friendship Trail at Stinchcombe Hill is a unique partnership between Britain and South Korea. On this circular route you’ll experience some incredible views of the Cotswolds as well as learn about Jeju Olle Trail in South Korea. Highly recommended!
- The Selsley Circuit – The Selsley Circuit is located just outside of King’s Stanley and takes walkers on a historical walk providing insights into the industrial past of the Cotswold. You’ll see Victorian era mills and enjoy a peaceful walk along the Stroudwater Canal.
Interactive Cotswold Way map
The interactive Cotswold Way map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.
How long is the Cotswold Way?
From Chipping Campden to the center of Bath, the Cotswold Way is 100 miles or 161 kilometers long.
There is nothing quite like a walk that is exactly 100 miles long!
However, the exact measurement of the route doesn’t provide much practical value to the average walker. You will assuredly walk much further than the 100 miles the route covers as accommodation, short detours, and the occasional sidetrack to visit a local pub will all increase the distance covered.
As such, anyone setting out on the Cotswold Way should plan to cover over 100 miles in order to fully experience this beautiful area and trail.
That being said, it is still useful for itinerary planning purposes to have a good sense of the total length of the route as well as individual segment lengths on the Cotswold Way. The maps below provide just that information, with the approximate distance of the standard eight stage itinerary shown in both miles and kilometers.
Note that these distances do not include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general idea of distance.
Cotswold Way Elevation Profile
The Cotswold Way is certainly on the easier end of the spectrum when it comes to the difficulty of the UK’s National Trails. While there are hills along the walk’s 100-mile journey, there aren’t many that should cause walkers with an average level of fitness any issues.
However, the Cotswold Way does have approximately 10,000 feet or 3,000 meters of elevation gain over its entire length. Averaged across the recommended eight stages, this equals approximately 1,250 feet of elevation gain each day.
The largest hills of the walk are concentrated in the northern section of the route and will be encountered early on by walkers heading in the north to south direction. This is an advantage as you’ll tackle these sections on fresh legs!
The high point of the Cotswold Way sits at Cleeve Hill, approximately 330 meters above sea-level. If heading from north to south you’ll encounter Cleeve Hill at the very end of your second day.
The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Cotswold Way entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 8-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.
The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Tormarton to Bath is rather long in distance, while the stage from Stanton to Cleeve Hill has a lot of elevation gain.
When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Cotswold Way be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.
Which maps should I carry on the Cotswold Way?
As with all the National Trails, the Cotswold Way is very well marked. You can expect frequent trail signs featuring the iconic acorn that denotes National Trails at most major trail junctions on the Cotswold Way. However, the countryside of the Cotswold is crisscrossed by countless other footpaths and bridleways, which makes taking a wrong turn a real possibility.
For this reason, we always recommend that walkers bring a few map resources when walking the Cotswold Way.
Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route (available on the National Trails website here) and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.
In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring a paper map or map booklet along. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, afterall you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!
There are several excellent physical maps available for the Cotswold Way, outlined below:
The Cotswold Way Map Booklet – Cicerone Guides
In our opinion, your best bet will be to pack this excellent resource from Cicerone Guides. Their Cotswold Way map booklet contains Ordnance Survey maps for the entire route, neatly organized into a small and portable booklet.
Cotswold Way Adventure Atlas
Another convenient and highly recommended option is the Cotswold Way Adventure atlas. This map consists of OS Explorer maps for the entire Cotswold Way route, but saves you the hassle of assembling all of the Ordnance Survey maps yourself. It is also a bit larger and easier to read when compared to the Cicerone Map Booklet, which many walkers will prefer.
Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps
Finally, no article on maps for the Cotswold Way would be complete without referencing Ordnance Survey maps. These maps provide an excellent level of detail , although you’ll need to carry five maps to cover the entire route:
In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.
In addition to the paper map(s) you choose to carry, we recommend using the Hiiker app to navigate on the trail. The app features downloadable, printable, and interactive maps with tons of helpful information, such as elevation profiles, accommodation, and amenities. This is a great tool to have on your trek.
Stage-by-stage maps for the Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way is traditionally completed in eight stages, with a wide variety of accommodation options available at each point along the walk. The maps below provide a general outline for each of these eight stages and include distance and elevation change.
Stage 1: Chipping Campden to Stanton
Distance: 16.58 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +437 m / -477 m
Stage 2: Stanton to Cleeve Hill
Distance: 22.09 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +703 m / -545 m
Stage 3: Cleeve Hill to Birdlip
Distance: 20.45 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +712 m / -697 m
Stage 4: Birdlip to Painswick
Distance: 11.69 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +403 m / -536 m
Stage 5: Painswick to King’s Stanley
Distance: 14.52 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +449 m / -552 m
Stage 6: King’s Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge
Distance: 19.56 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +806 m / -753 m
Stage 7: Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton
Distance: 24.43 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +675 m / -607 m
Stage 8: Tormarton to Bath
Distance: 26.97 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +600 m / -735 m
Cotswold Way GPS/GPX
If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the Cotswold Way head on over to the National Trails website here. You’ll find a free GPX download of the entire route.
You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!
Apps and offline mapping
As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Cotswold Way. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you may not have) to display the map.
Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the Cotswold Way.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a simpler way to utilize offline GPS/GPX data, the Hiiker App does all of the work for you. The app allows you to download maps and trail information to your phone so that you can use it without the need for a cell signal or data.
Have a great Cotswold Way adventure!
We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Cotswold Way. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!