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.
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.