The Cotswold Way: Painswick to Tormarton

This five-day hike tackles the central section of the magical Cotswold Way National Trail, starting in the historic wool town of Painswick and crossing the steep Cotswolds slope and endless miles of rolling countryside before finishing 38 miles/61km later in the beautiful village of Tormarton.

The Cotswold Way offers over 100 miles of magical walking, with long-distance views and journeys through picturesque villages and past ancient sites. The full National Trail runs from Chipping Campden to Bath and can take up to 10 days to walk. So we’ve put together a shortened five-day itinerary covering 38 miles/61 km, skipping the start and finish and instead focusing on the glorious central stages of the Cotswold Way.

You’ll begin in beautiful Painswick before following the steep western edge of the Cotswold Escarpment, part of the limestone belt that stretches from England’s south coast to the North Sea. You’ll enjoy stunning views high above Severn Valley with Wales beyond, before dropping down into ancient villages and market towns. To the east the land falls away towards the tranquil meanders of the River Thames, helping frame the Cotswolds as England’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is a landscape of rural charm, fascinating history, and mellow tranquility.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Distance

61km

Number of Days

5

Grade

Gentle / Moderate

Theme

History / Food & Drink

Landscape Type

Rolling Countryside

The Cotswold Way: Painswick to Tormarton

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Itinerary

Anyone with a good level of fitness can walk this shortened 38 miles/61km section of Cotswold Way, but visitors are often surprised by the steepness of some climbs. This day-by-day guide breaks down what to expect on each day, and picks out the unique highlights of each section of the route.

Day 1 - Painswick to King’s Stanley

The historic wool town of Painswick is known as ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds’, nestled quietly among some of the region’s finest countryside.
Explore its narrow streets then follow the Cotswold Way across Wash Brook to the open grasslands of Edge Common. The trail plunges into woodland before emerging at the Iron Age hill fort of Haresfield Beacon, with great views of the steep slope and River Severn. Descend through Standish Woods, then head past the Stanley Mills to King’s Stanley village.    12.6km/ 7.8 miles

Day 2 -King’s Stanley to Dursley

Climb through Penn Wood to the high edge of the steep slope, where the trees open to reveal spectacular views. You’ll pass a sequence of Neolithic tombs before emerging at Coaley Peak, which is a great picnic spot in fine weather. For the rest of the day you’ll pass quarries, an Iron Age hill fort, and follow glorious woodland trails. The climb from the valley to Cam Long Down is steep but rewards you with wonderful 360° views, before descending towards the market town of Dursley.   11.6km/ 7.2 miles

Day 3 - Dursley to Wotton-Under-Edge

The day starts with a steep climb up Stinchcombe Hill, with great views around its perimeter. Descend through woodland into farmland near the hamlet of Nibley Green, where the last English battle between private armies was fought in 1470 to contest the ownership of nearby Berkeley Castle. A steep ascent brings you to Tyndale Monument, built to honor William Tyndale who translated the Bible into English. The trail then levels across grassland and woodland to the town of Wotton-Under-Edge.    11.7km/ 7.3 miles

Day 4 - Wotton-Under-Edge to Hawkesbury Upton

Start by following a stream out of Wotton-Under-Edge, then climb back to the steep slope. At Blackquarries Hill take a short detour into the picturesque parkland of Newark Park, with the option to explore the former Tudor hunting lodge of Newark House. Back on Cotswold Way, you’ll descend from Wortley Hill down a delightful woodland track to Alderley village. Finish the day on lazy paths through a peaceful valley, along a millstream, then climb past Somerset Monument to Hawkesbury Upton.   12.5km/ 8 miles

Day 5 - Hawkesbury Upton to Tomarton

Follow Bath Lane south towards Horton before reaching the National Trust property of Horton Court, which is one of England’s oldest vicarages. The first Iron Age hill fort of the day soon follows, then the hamlets of Horton and Little Sodbury, before Cotswold Way climbs up to Sodbury Hill Fort with extensive views across the Severn Dale. From here finish your walk through farmland, the village of Old Sodbury, and the wonderful parkland of Dodington Park, ending in the village of Tormarton.
12.5km/ 8 miles

Accommodation

The Cotswolds is incredibly popular with tourists from all over the world, so while there are many options for accommodation, they tend to book up quickly along the Cotswold Way. You’ll find pubs, hotels, B&Bs, cottages, campsites, and hostels along the trail catering to all tastes and budgets, so plan carefully and try to book somewhere as close to the start and finish of each day as possible.

Travel

Air / rail

The easiest airports for traveling to the Cotswolds are Birmingham and Bristol, approximately 1 to 1.5 hours away by car. Of the two major London airports, the region is best accessed from Heathrow.

The Cotswold Way is at the heart of the British Rail network, with mainline trains to the region from London, the Midlands, and the North and South West of England. From the mainline station at Stroud, you can catch a bus to Painswick.

The Cotswolds is served by a comprehensive network of road and rail links, making it easy to reach from London, the Midlands, and the South West. If you plan to drive, the starting point in Painswick isn’t far from the M5 motorway.

Advice

Cotswold Way is a walking paradise, with picture-perfect stone villages, rolling hills, country pubs, green fields, lazy rivers, and beautiful woodland to explore every step of the way. Each stage of this itinerary is designed to be walked at a leisurely pace and the trail is simple to follow, so it’s an ideal route for anyone with a good fitness level. Visit in spring for carpets of bluebells, summer for long days of glorious sunshine, autumn for spectacular color explosions in the trees, and winter for frosty sunrises and roaring fires in the pubs. Don’t underestimate the steep climbs though, with some days totaling more than 1,000 feet of ups and downs.

Food & Drink

The Cotswolds is a classic English ‘foodie’ destination, with fantastic cafes, gastro pubs, traditional country inns, bakeries, farm shops, farmers’ markets, and the occasional Michelin-starred restaurant cropping up in most towns and villages. Local culinary favorites include Single Gloucester Cheese, Gloucester Old Spot Pork, Tewkesbury mustard, Bibury trout, Stinking Bishop cheese, Hobbs House bread, Cotswolds dry gin and Cotswolds single malt whiskey.

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.

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