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Cotswold Way

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The Cotswold Way, as the name suggests, passes through a region of hills in western England known as the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds have rightly been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The local geology is such that a steep slope, known as the Cotswold Edge, marks the western boundary of the region and the Cotswold Way hugs this slope closely for most of its 100-mile length in order to take full advantage of the tremendous views of the Severn estuary and Wales to the north and west.     

Cotswold Way

The area is renowned for its green, and typically English, rolling hills dotted with stunning, picture postcard villages built from the beautifully warm, honey coloured local stone. Although the terrain appears gentle and undulating, it is nonetheless true that the Cotswold Way has more than its fair share of ascents and descents. Often you will find yourself walking for miles along relatively flat ground on the edge of the scarp but at times, the frequent short, sharp, steep climbs will test both legs and lungs.

The trail starts in perhaps the most well known and frequently visited local town, Bath. Made famous by the historical exploitation of the local hot springs, Bath is nevertheless a vibrant town with a very contemporary feel as highlighted by the recent renovation of the Roman baths where the ancient stone architecture was blended with sharply modern glass walls and brushed stainless steel to stunning effect. Bath has an awful lot to offer and it's well worth delaying the start of your walking to explore it.

The trail begins by taking you through the famous Royal Crescent before climbing out to give great views of the town from Penn Hill and then on up to the town's racecourse and the site of the Civil War battle of Lansdowne Hill. From here, the trail takes you over rolling hills to the famous baroque house of Dyrham Park.   

Further on the trail continues to follow the escarpment passing villages such as Old Sodbury and the Somerset Monument near Hawkesbury Upton. It is here that the trail enters a region of beautiful valleys cut deeply into the often-wooded limestone hillside and this rather complex landscape continues past another Victorian tower, the Tyndale Monument on the superbly named viewpoint of Nibley Knoll, to the pleasant market town of Stroud.

More delightful pastures and wooded sections lead further north over Standish Beacon and Haresfield Beacon through lovely Painswick village and onwards eventually to Cheltenham. The trail loops a long way round to the east here but you should definitely take some time out to explore Cheltenham itself. It's like Bath but more so. From Cheltenham a lovely open section of high heath land known as Cleeve Common takes us over to Winchcombe with the remains of Hailes Abbey and yet more perfect villages in the form of Stanton and Broadway. A diversion off-route to Snowshill is worthy of the extra walking, before we drop steeply down off Dovers Hill to reach our final destination outside the town hall in Chipping Campden.  



 

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