Gorgeous Country Walks To Start The New Year
There’s no getting away from the fact that christmas is over and 2019 has begun, even though this time of year can leave us feeling a little blue after the excitement of December, the best way through it is to pick yourself up and get on with life.
We all know that exercise gets those endorphins flowing, gets your body moving and in turn makes your mind happier and one of the best forms of exercise is a nice, brisk walk.
Here in the Cotswolds we are blessed with beautiful countryside at every turn so pack a bag with water and snacks and hit the road on foot.
Choose from one of our favourite Cotswold country walks below.
The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way stretches over 100 miles through this beautiful region and walkers either challenge themselves to the whole route or pick and choose bits to do as a shorter country walk.
The route starts (or ends) at Chipping Campden and leads all the way to the charming city of Bath, taking in the abundance of glorious countryside, picturesque villages and ancient landmarks along the way.
If you do decide to embark upon the full route it will take between 7 - 10 days to complete and will need some good preparation, so unless you’re a very keen and experienced hiker you will probably prefer to dip in and out of the Cotswold Way on one of the many smaller routes on offer.
Some of our favourite sections of The Cotswold Way include Dovers Hill, Crickely Hill and Haresfield Beacon.
Dover's Hill lies either at the start or end of your journey depending which way you choose to walk it. With its large open fields and stunning views across the Vale of Evesham it’s a great picnic spot and beautiful view point. Crickley Hill also has incredible views and is managed in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. There is a nice little cafe up there too so grab a pit stop and soak up the view.
Haresfield Beacon looks out across the River Severn and marks the half-way point of The Cotswold Way. Definitely make the effort to reach the top of the Beacon because the views of the Cotswolds below you are incredible.
The Windrush Way
The Windrush Way is 14 miles long and although still a challenge it can be completed in just one day. The circular route links two walking routes; The Cotswold Way at Winchcombe with the Oxfordshire Way at Bourton-on-the-Water. Follow the trail over the beautiful Cotswold hills, through the remains of old medieval villages and along the peaceful River Windrush.
Walk highlights are the riverside walking and the 15th century Sudeley Castle with its beautiful, award winning gardens and lovely chapel - definitely worth a visit if you have time.
This is a really peaceful walk with plenty of places to take a break along the way so pack a picnic and enjoy!
The Cleeve Hill Ring
The Cleeve Hill Ring is a 6.5 mile walk taking you up to the Cotswolds’ highest common, over open hilltops, across streams and through woodlands, plus you’ll be rewarded with breath taking views out to the Malverns and even across to Wales on a clear day. The area is famous for its limestone grassland, which is home to an abundance of wildlife including huge number of birds as well as rare plants and wildflowers, so bring your binoculars if you are a keen wildlife spotter. The old English name for the hill is Cleeve Cloud and at 330m above sea level you can understand why. If the weather is bad, it’s best to avoid this route as the mist can set in very quickly and you won’t see much of the surrounding area anyway, but on a clear day the views are unrivalled.
This is moderate route with no stiles but some steep sections and should take you around 3.5 - 4.5 hours to complete.
The Three Villages Walk
The Three Villages Walk is a great circular route within the Cotswold Water Park, an area of 40 square miles with more than 150 lakes set across the countryside of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire. The Three Villages walk will take you along some of the Thames Path National Trail leading you through three picturesque villages; Ashton Keynes, South Cerney and Somerford Keynes. Wildlife spotting along the way includes the Tufted Duck, the Burnet Moth, the Lapwing and the Downy Emerald.
This short walk will take approximately 3 hours to complete and isn’t too difficult, so if you fancy a relatively easy stroll then this is the one for you.
Why not team it with a nice pub lunch at the end or on route in one of the villages?
The George Watkins Walk
Starting your route at the Stirrup Cup Inn in Bisley, this walk will take you through the beautiful Toadsmoor Valley with views to die for.
The route has some challenges along the way with a couple of strenuous climbs but we can promise that the the views really will be worth it and you’ll feel great afterwards for getting your blood pumping. This route has so much variety in terms of sights, landscapes and terrain – there’s a little bit of everything, including a fair amount of mud as you reach Toadsmoor Pond. So if it’s a wet day or has been previously then make sure you pack your wellies!