Cotswolds highlights self guided hiking vacation

Description of Cotswolds highlights self guided hiking vacation

2-3 days exploring the beautiful Cotswold countryside surrounding the unspoilt village of Kingham, voted England’s favourite by Country Life magazine. Optional 2-day extension to ancient Winchcombe in the Gloucester Cotswolds. Both areas combine an extraordinary richness of history, heritage and architecture with stunningly beautiful rolling countryside.


• relaxed, varied, expertly-crafted self-guided walks in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds in some of England’s finest landscapes
• peace of mind knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched by us and tested by numerous walkers so you can be sure you will not get lost! We include a marked-up Ordnance Survey map in your pack, with a waterproof map case
• a choice between two English country inns (both offering stylish en-suite accommodation, excellent food and real ale), a small hotel noted for excellent food, or stay at one of the best bed and breakfast establishments you are likely to find anywhere. We list good country pubs for lunch - a highlight of your days out!
• the freedom to walk at your own pace, linger as long as you like over lunch, visit places of interest on the way, fully detailed in our meticulous notes
• comprehensive background commentaries highlighting features of special interest, natural and man-made, to provide an insight into the area’s history, culture and habitats
• the enhanced sense of well-being that a few days of peace, fresh air, relaxing exercise, scenic beauty and close contact with nature give you, leaving you feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Grading of Walks:

The routes are suitable for you if you are able to walk up to 9 miles on varied terrain, interspersed with visits to places of interest and a break for lunch which can be as long as you like! There are no particularly steep gradients and, on all walks, there are opportunities to leave the walk at lunch time if required to take a taxi back to your car or your accommodation.


One inn is a Grade II listed former Georgian farmhouse, warm and welcoming with friendly, efficient staff. Guests can dine at its excellent restaurant, featured in the Michelin Good Pub Guide. The neighbouring inn, situated a few minutes' walk away on the village green, is recommended by Alastair Sawday and was rated number five in the Sunday Times Top Ten British Hotels. The B&B choice, a beautiful converted barn, has been awarded 4 stars and a breakfast award by the AA and was included in the Michelin Guide.

Travel Information:

By rail: regular trains run from London Paddington to Kingham with onward travel by taxi (5 minutes).

By road: Kingham is situated on the B4450 midway between Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton. From London leave the M40 at junction 8 and take the A40 to Oxford, then the A44 to Chipping Norton. Total mileage from central London is 80 miles with a journey time of approximately 2 hours. Ample car parking is available at all of the establishments we use.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Having settled in to your home for the next 2 nights (or more if you wish), you may wish to embark on a short evening walk around historic Kingham before returning for a memorable dinner. Follow our route to enjoy the best of the village and learn something of its history.
Day 2:A short taxi ride (included) to the delightful hamlet of Cornwell to visit its secret church, then along narrow lanes and field paths to an ancient Iron Age Site. Today you explore five pretty golden-stone villages, huddled in tranquil wooded valleys surrounded by evergreen farmland. Another of today's villages is idyllic Adlestrop, immortalised by Edward Thomas in his famous poem and also featured in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. In each of the villages, all clothed in honey-coloured stone, are ancient churches and grand houses, including the National Trust's Chastleton House. This Jacobean gem nestles in a gloriously tranquil, unspoilt setting beside the church. Lunch at the Fox at Oddington to savour the delights of an imaginative menu and real ale. Your route takes you through parkland designed by Humphry Repton, a village by Clough Williams-Ellis and the renowned Daylesford Organic Farm where, time permitting, you may decide to indulge in a cream tea. (9 miles or 14 km moderate walking with few gradients)
Day 3:Today you travel by taxi (included if you do not have a car) to lovely Lower Slaughter, noted for its magnificent gabled manor house and beautiful riverside setting. You walk on to Upper Slaughter, another gem of a village complete with ford, and visit its church opposite yet another magnificent manor house. The Slaughters are quintessential Cotswolds: real England pure and simple. Today the sounds of sparkling, babbling brooks accompany you as you traverse a landscape bisected by sparkling streams. Today's route takes you through peaceful valleys to Bourton-on-the-Water where there is time to explore. After lunch at our recommended restaurant or tearoom, walk on through more lovely landscapes, through a nature reserve and beside picturesque lakes. Finally return to Upper Slaughter alongside another stream which connects it to its sister village, Lower Slaughter. Here you conclude your wanderings on the sloping riverside lawns of the 17th century Washbourne Hotel, perhaps indulging in an optional cream tea. Certainly you will return refreshed, relaxed and restored. (7 miles or 11 km moderate walking with very few gradients)

Departure information

This trip is a self guided and so can depart throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cotswolds highlights self guided hiking vacation


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking parties is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport; if that is unavailable we use cars or taxis. On this walking weekend, shared local taxis take walkers to the village of Cornwell where the walk starts but we return to Kingham on foot. A local taxi company transports walkers to Lower Slaughter and back on the second day. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local rural economy. We accommodate our walkers in two small local inns and a B&B, all being family run and central to the life of the village. They employ local people and prepare meals from locally grown produce as far as possible.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We do not print brochures keeping customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


We include on our walks visits to local projects, craftsmen and artisans wherever possible. For example, on our visits to Kingham we encourage our clients to visit the Daylesford Organic Farm to sample and purchase local produce and develop an awareness of what the farm has to offer. In Adlestrop they visit the local post office where the owner serves refreshments and sells a book about Adlestrop by a local author, always a popular purchase when it is available. On the day our clients visit the Slaughters, we recommend coffee in Lower Slaughter, a visit to the old mill and, similarly, in Bourton-on-the-Water we encourage our clients to visit the shops and, time permitting, Birdland, always a popular choice.

We accommodate our clients in Kingham at small country inns and a B&B, choosing to support them rather than larger hotels in the area. All are family run and employ local staff. We use local pubs such as The Fox at Oddington and The Dial House at Bourton-on-the-Water for lunch and we recommend refreshment and cream tea stops at Daylesford, and The Slaughters! We patronise local taxi companies to transport our clients from the nearest railway station when buses are unavailable. Also, our clients are directed to the village shop for personal purchases during their stay.


Country Walks provides carefully researched and crafted walks in the special landscapes of the UK, promoting appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries included on every walk. These relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature. The Oxfordshire Cotswolds provide ideal terrains for walking and much else besides.

Specific cultural references on this weekend are too numerous to list but some examples follow. At the village of Cornwell our clients learn about Clough William-Ellis and his achievements in architecture. The tiny Norman church of St Peter is a gem. At Chastleton, a great unspoiled Jacobean manor house, we learn about the Civil War. At Adlestrop we read Edward Thomas’s famous poem, speak of Jane Austen and refer to her novel ‘’Mansfield Park’ and the great landscapist and architect Humphry Repton.

In the ancient church of St Nicholas at Oddington, we see magnificent 14th-century wall paintings. On the nature front, varied birdlife is seen on the banks of rivers and at the lakes near Salmonsbury and in June fields of Yellow Rattle. Historical landscape sites include Salmonsbury Iron Age Hillfort and the Fosse Way, further opportunities to illustrate how ancient history shaped the landscape in ways that are still evident today. Literary references include John Milton at Eyford House, W H Plowden who wrote about Eyford and F E Witts who wrote The Diary of a Cotswold Parson.

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