Winter walks in the Cotswolds

21st December 2016

Categories: Media News

Winter in the Cotswolds is a stunning experience so why not embrace the great outdoors, breathe some fresh crisp air and enjoy a Winter walk?

Walking is one of the most popular activities in the Cotswolds.  Whether you’re planning a gentle stroll or a more challenging hike, there is a wealth of information available from the local Tourist Information Centres or in the walking section of our website.

Walkers admiring the view from Coaley Peak

Guided walks

The Cotswolds Conservation Board organises regular guided walks led by Cotswold Voluntary Wardens which vary in distance and difficulty – no need to book in advance, just turn up and enjoy!

There are also specialist organisations offering guided or self-guided walking tours such as Cotswolds Walks and The Carter Company, which can often be tailored to suit your particular requirements.

Take a guided walk in one of our beautiful Cotswolds towns like Burford, Cirencester and Witney. Pop-in to our fantastic Tourist Information Centres where you can find maps and local information and chat to friendly, knowledgeable staff who will help you book a walk.

Self-guided walks

The Cotswolds AONB has put together a fantastic selection of walks from gentle strolls to hilly hikes, including circular walks.  They also have downloadable car-free walks, short walks avoiding stiles and walks on wheels, short routes that can be explored by users of wheelchairs, power scooters and children’s buggies. 

Winchcombe is one of the great centres for walking in the Cotswolds and there are many walks starting from the town, which has Walkers are Welcome status.  You’ll find excellent information on local walks on the Winchcombe Welcomes Walkers website.  

The charming Cotswold town of Charlbury is another Walkers are Welcome town and a great starting point for walks. Try a 9 mile circular walk taking the only public right of way through the ancient Wychwood Forest within the Cornbury Park estate, continuing to Finstock and then back into the forest. Look out for the 12th century medieval church at Shorthampton.

There are some wonderful self-guided walks through the Stroud Valleys which are available to download. Try a 6 mile circular walk starting in Painswick which ends at Slad Valley, made famous by Laurie Lee’s novel ‘Cider with Rosie’. Enjoy some well-earned refreshment in front of a log fire at the Woolpack pub, Lee’s own watering hole, before heading back to Painswick.

A chance to stretch your legs along this 2.5-mile (4km) family fun trail around Sherborne Park Estate, through peaceful farmland, woodland and the village, a gentle stroll where you can see some great wildlife including Roe deer, woodpeckers, buzzards and hare as well as some amazing wildlife sculptures.  Make sure you don’t miss the 19th century ice house.

Don't get muddy - walks on footpaths

Explore 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown designed parkland at Blenheim Palace. There are lots of options for walks around the park and so many vistas and landscape features to enjoy including the Great Lake, Grand Bridge, Cascade and Water Terraces.  Most walks are on paths so you won’t get too muddy either!

Batsford Arboretum takes on a magical appearance in Winter as clear frosty weather adds a sparkle to the trees and plants. It’s perfect for a Winter walk, with paths throughout and the lovely Garden Terrace Café to warm up in and enjoy a tasty lunch, cake and hot drink. Look out for the first snowdrops and aconites and even some early daffodils.

Cotswold Water Park, an area of 40 square miles with more than 150 lakes, is a great place for walking, with lots of circular walks varying in distances, mostly on well-marked and maintained paths. They also arrange guided walks, for example the 'Blow away the January Blues' walk on 21 January led by experienced wildlife watcher Nick Adams.

Long distance walks

You could also consider completing all or part of the Cotswold Way National Trail. This beautiful 102-mile route takes in some of the Cotswolds' best scenery with sweeping views, historic monuments and picturesque villages along the way. If you can't complete the whole trail, pick a section to complete, for example from Chipping Campden to Broadway.