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How difficult is the Cotswold Way walk?

The Cotswold Way National Trail route runs between the market town of Chipping Campden and the city of Bath, passing through picturesque villages, close to historic sites. The diversity and variety available to see on the 102 mile trail is unrivalled by other walks in Britain. In this blog, The Trails Shop discusses the difficulty of this iconic walk along with providing advice on how to prepare for tackling the challenge. 

So, how difficult is the Cotswold Way walk? The Cotswold Way route is considered one of the easier National Trails in Britain, however there are a number of steep climbs. It can be conveniently split into smaller sections and offers plenty of amenities to refresh yourself along the way. Full completion will take anywhere from six - ten days depending on your fitness levels, walking speed and personal goals.

Read on to find out the difficulty level for the Cotswold Way and our advice on preparing yourself. 

Is the Cotswold Way Route Difficult?

The Cotswold Way provides a diverse scenic experience that you will never forget. Often considered one of the easier National Trails in Britain, this walk is ideal for people of any fitness level - whether you are just starting out or you are a veteran trail completionist. There are however a few steep, hilly areas during the walk and some sections that become muddy after wet weather, so we recommend checking the weather and wearing appropriate clothing.

As this is a popular route, we recommend planning ahead for the journey. Booking accommodation in advance is essential due to the limited places available on the Cotswold Way route, especially during holiday periods. There are, however, plenty of food and beverages available in various towns and villages, so you can refresh yourself and rest at your leisure. Planning ahead and, and allowing time for rest stops and refreshments makes the trail more manageable and reduces the difficulty.

Before starting your journey, you should consider how you will reach your chosen start point. Chipping Campden has fewer transportation options available than Bath, so depending on where you live it could be easier to end your journey in Bath so you can travel home easily.

We highly recommend that anyone walking the route uses a map or guidebook, just like the ones available in our Cotswold Way Collection. These guides are easy to understand and lightweight, providing a positive travel experience without hindering your progress.

cotswold way flowers

How Should You Complete the Cotswold Way?

There is no set method to complete the Cotswold Way and it is equally enjoyable no matter your starting point. You can choose your own pace and split the trail up into sections to enjoy the beautiful views in smaller doses. If you choose to tackle the full route in one go, prepare for anywhere from six to ten days. This of course depends on your speed, fitness and how many of the fantastic views you want to stop and admire. 

It can be completed during any season of the year, but make sure to dress appropriately to look after your health. Spring is the time to see the wonderful bluebells and spring flowers, it's also a quieter time to walk so accommodation is easier to find. Summer is lovely with fabulous clear days (hopefully) and long distance views. Autumn is a popular time to walk the Cotswold Way, to appreciate the changing colours. If you decide to walk the Cotswold Way route in winter you may be rewarded with sharp, clear days and plenty of choice of accommodation, but be prepared for colder, wetter weather. Certain types of weather could also obscure the fantastic views and the time you are willing to spend admiring them. After rainy weather, sections of the Cotswold Way can become slippery so choose strong, comfortable walking shoes. 

If you like to walk with your dog, make sure to keep it under effective control and always on a lead around livestock. You will encounter livestock on some sections of the route. We also recommend checking ahead to confirm that any accommodation is dog-friendly, so your four legged friends are comfortable during your stay. 

Once you have completed this huge achievement, commemorate it with one of our Completion Certificates, or gift one to a trail-loving friend - the perfect way to frame a long lasting memory.

Have a question we haven’t covered here? Why not check out our helpful Cotswold Way Walk Information page where we have compiled a list of the most common questions when it comes to this fantastic walk. We’ve even included some information about what to expect during your walk, without spoiling too much of the experience.

cotswold way the bay tree

What Other Hikers Say About The Cotswold Way

But of course, don’t just take it from us. Different people obviously have different experiences walking along the Cotswold Way than others, depending on how fit they are and their personal preferences for trails. You can find many reviews from individuals that have completed this trail included this one from our own website:

“We chose the Cotswold Way because of the variety of landscape it had to offer. We walked the Cotswold Way in springtime and the wildlife meadows were simply beautiful. We enjoyed the market towns - Winchcombe, in particular, was lovely - a really friendly place to stay. There were a few steep parts that we weren’t expecting, but well worth the climb for the amazing views. The bluebells were out in the woodlands - a feast of colour. Great memories made!” - Harry and Clare Jackson. 

As you can see, this review confirms our points above about the gorgeous views on offer and to prepare for the hilly areas that can catch some people out. Spring is a great time to enjoy this walk due to the plants and wildlife on show. 

Cotswold Way Merchandise The Trails Shop

At The Trails Shop, we are passionate walkers who care about creating long lasting memories. Our extensive Cotswold Way Collection includes convenient maps and guidebooks, covering the entire route or individual sections to keep you on track. 

Show your support for National Trails by wearing one of our Sew-on Badges or commemorate your achievement with a Completion Certificate. For more information about the incredible Cotswold Way, check out our Trail Information page

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