Tours in England often overlook the fabulous footpaths in the Cotswolds.
The ancient network of footpaths were created over the centuries as villagers found the quickest way to their place of work, local market or church. Today you can walk across open fields of private land, ancient woodland or pastures full of sheep or cows and dig into the local culture in a way only to be experienced on foot.
Now enshrined in law as a “right of way,” this network of paths connecting the various villages offers visitors the chance to walk at a relaxed pace, enjoy a pub lunch for an abundance of local ales and produce. There is time to explore the villages once you arrive and soak up the traditions they make. As an introduction to this type of holiday, the Cotswolds contain easy walks to suit all abilities and the wealth of history and accommodation may set a precedent that is hard to beat but will have you hooked.
1. On Your Own walking. Purchase a walking guidebook (we recommend Goldeneye “Cotswold Classic Walks” or Pathfinder Guides “The Cotswolds – Walks”), buy an Ordnance Survey Explorer map (“OL45 The Cotswolds” covers most of the area) and plan your walking vacation. You can base yourself in a holiday cottage for a week and do day-walks or walk from point to point, staying in B&Bs/hotels or rent a VW camper van.
2. A little help from a friend. Choose a self-guided walk from Cotswold Walks (www.cotswoldwalks.com). They will help you decide which walking holiday will suit you, book your accommodation, transfer your luggage and provide detailed route notes and maps in advance. Local assistance is always on hand by simply calling the office if you have any questions during your tour or find yourself unsure of the way.
3. Walking in a group. If you opt for a guided walking tour there’s no need to read maps or route notes – instead you can simply walk alongside your guide. They are local experts who bring to life the history and hidden secrets of the area. Members of walking groups stay in luxury accommodation, enjoy wonderful all -inclusive meals and meet like-minded walkers who want to maximize their time in the Cotswolds.
Heathrow and Gatwick both serve the Cotswolds via London Paddington or bus and train connections through Reading to Moreton-in-Marsh, Cheltenham and Bath; www.thetrainline.com www.railair.com
For weather and the national pastime; www.metoffice.gov.uk
Good walking boots with ankle support are essential as the ground can be uneven and overgrown.
ATM’s are available in all the main villages so allow for some cash for tipping and gift purchases.