The Cotswolds Walking Week
2023 Dates: July 8 – 15, 2023
This new trip was offered for the first time in 2022, inspired by our fun Walking Week in the Luberon (Provence) in 2019. We had wanted to offer a walking trip since we first started European Experiences back in 2006… it finally happened and it was an amazing week! We also love the walking in the Cotswolds and were thrilled to offer a similar week in another special area we know well.
The Cotswolds is an ideal location for a walking vacation. It’s a protected “National Landscape” (formerly called an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”) of almost 800 square miles with over 3,000 miles of maintained and marked public footpaths. There is a long-standing public right of way through private property, subject to the Countryside Code for respecting, protecting and enjoying the countryside.
An extremely rural area of rolling hills, over 85% of the Cotswolds is farmland, a mix of crops and livestock. We especially enjoy walking through fields of grazing sheep, though you do have to watch where you step! The footpaths cross through fields, grassland and forests; meander by small streams; and then pass through small villages of honey-colored Cotswold stone, often with a welcoming village pub. Along the way walkers pass by stately homes and estates, gardens, churches and cemeteries, farmyards, and sometimes even a Roman or prehistoric site.
The Cotswolds is rich with history, tradition, and natural beauty. On foot we’ll discover special places that aren’t in the tourist guidebooks and we’ll experience an up-close look at daily life in this picture-perfect area. The views are breathtaking, often extending 25 miles or more from the hilltops.
Our base for this trip is the former market town of Chipping Campden, considered by many to have the most beautiful High Street in Great Britain. We’ve been spending time in the Cotswolds for more than 25 years, hosting our Cotswolds Experience groups in Chipping Campden since 2010. Over the years we’ve walked hundreds of miles in the area. Our first long-distance walk was a 50-mile Cotswold Ring walk in 2002; in 2013 we walked the 102-mile Cotswold Way, from Bath to Chipping Campden. Our experience in the area and our relationships with local people help make this a very special week.
We’re delighted to have Andrew Guppy join us to help organize and lead this Walking Week. Andrew and his wife Elizabeth live in the Cotswolds and own the leading walking tour company focused on the Cotswolds. We met when he organized our self-guided Cotswold Way walk in 2013, and he’s a fellow member of the Slow Travel Tours group. Our Cotswolds Experience co-leader Susan Tseng (another avid walker) will also be with our group for this week.
What to Expect
You’ll need to be in reasonably good shape for this trip, though it’s not necessary to be a super-athlete. The terrain isn’t rocky, but you may need to climb over stiles– wooden structures to help walkers get over a fence or stone wall. (Walkers help each other!) We do recommend that you walk regularly in the months before the trip, including some longer walks and walks on dirt or grass paths.
We’ll plan walks of easy to moderate difficulty; some walks may have a more-challenging short section. We’ll walk at a moderate pace with regular breaks, as there’s much to explore– and photograph– along the way. We’ll plan walks on each of our six full days, ranging from two hours (four miles) to up to four hours (seven to eight miles). We choose our walks based on the group… there are many possibilities! You can always decide to skip a day. Sometimes we’ll take a picnic lunch, and some walks may end at a pub with a ride back to our village.
To learn more about what to expect, read Kathy’s blog post about one of the walks that will be included in our Walking Week: A Walk on the Cotswold Way
We normally expect sunny, mild weather at this time of year… perfect for hiking. But our walks will go as planned– rain or shine. And this is England, so rain is possible.
We’ll provide a detailed packing list for this trip, but you’ll definitely need good hiking boots with a tread that are well-broken in. We recommend bringing clothes you can layer up or down, based on the weather. And rain gear– including rain pants– is important, though we hope you don’t need it. You may also find that telescopic hiking poles are helpful.
Other Activities and Non-Walking Travel Companions
If space is available. we’re happy for you to bring a non-walking travel companion who will share your room. We can recommend other activities in Chipping Campden or nearby places that are reachable by pre-booked taxi or public transportation. Non-walkers may be able to join us for portions of our day activities and always for our dinners. Please contact us to discuss possibilities and prices for a non-walking companion.
In addition to the walks, this week will include other experiences in the Cotswolds, such as visits to gardens, villages, and historic sites. For those joining us in Chipping Campden for the first time, we’ll also include an introductory walking tour of the town. With all this walking, we’ll be able to eat extremely well, and we’re planning lunches and dinners at some of our favorite places, including the wonderful restaurant/pub in our hotel.
Arrivals and Departures
We highly recommend spending a few days (or more!) in London before joining us for a week in the English countryside. The Cotswolds are easily accessible from London’s Paddington station, a 1-1/2 hour trip. We’ll meet the train from London (which also stops in Oxford) at the Moreton-in-Marsh train station, normally at 3:00 pm on the first Saturday. We’ll return you to the station after breakfast the following Saturday morning. If you’re heading directly to Heathrow Airport, you may want to book a private car. We’re happy to connect travelers to share a ride and put you in touch with local drivers.
Leaders: Kathy Wood and Andrew Guppy
Prices: $3,700 per person, double occupancy. $4,100 single occupancy of a double room.