Day 1: Overnight in Cheltenham, a beautiful town celebrated for its Regency architecture and fine shops and restaurants.
Day 2: Cheltenham to Winchcombe – (7 miles/11 km). Over Cleeve Hill to pass the Neolithic tomb at Belas Knap and so down to Winchcombe, home to Sudeley Castle. Overnight Winchcombe.
Day 3: Winchcombe to Broadway – (10.5 miles/17 km). This is a fabulous day’s walk. Follow the pilgrims’ route to Hailes Abbey (open to the public), then over the hills to Jacobean Stanway House, with its wonderful gatehouse, medieval tithe barn and extraordinary fountain. Pass through Stanton, so unspoilt that it has featured in many films, and arrive in the village of Broadway, one of the inspirations for the arts and Crafts Movement.
Day 4: Broadway to Moreton-in-Marsh – (12 miles/20 km) NB Overnight in Chipping Campden can be included – please ask. Walk up to Broadway Tower, the 18th century folly, where the view is stunning and then it is but a short step to Chipping Campden, the loveliest of all Cotswold villages, and once the wool centre of Europe. Pass the old butter market, visit the fine ‘wool’ church, and perhaps the world renowned silversmith. Continue through Broad Campden and Blockley and descend to Batsford, with its arboretum and falconry centre. Finally, a stroll across meadows to Moreton, for overnight.
Day 5: Moreton-in-Marsh to Bourton-on-the-Water – (12 miles/ 20 km). You are soon among typical Cotswold villages with a detour to see gorgeous Sezincote if you like. Then it is Stow-on-the-Wold, complete with village stocks and picturesque square, down to Lower Slaughter and finally to Bourton-on-the-Water for overnight.
Day 6: Bourton-on-the-Water to Northleach – (11 miles/17 km). The route weaves around Bourton lakes, then crosses the hills to Sherborne. Stroll through landscaped Sherborne Park and continue to the tranquil and historic village of Northleach, with its glorious wool church, mechanical music museum and air of timelessness. Overnight Northleach.
Day 7: Northleach to Cirencester – (14 miles/22 km). Head for Chedworth with its welcoming pub (and nearby Roman villa, one of the best preserved in the country), before continuing to Cirencester, after London the second town of Roman Britain, with its excellent Corinium Museum and its majestic market square overlooked by the huge and recently restored parish church.
Day 8: Cirencester to Painswick – (13.5 miles/21 km). A stroll through the 18th century landscape of Cirencester Park brings you to Sapperton, once a centre for William Morris’s Arts & Crafts Movement. Follow the old Thames & Severn Canal, and then walk through perfect rural England to Painswick, ‘Queen of the Cotswolds’, noted for its fascinating churchyard and the Rococo Garden.
Day 9: Painswick to Cheltenham – (13 miles/20 km). Walk through the countryside immortalised in Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider with Rosie’ to Sheepscombe (which features in the book), which straddles an enchanting valley. The Cotswold Way takes you along the Cotswold Edge, with panoramic views towards Gloucester, the Malvern Hills and the Black Mountains in Wales. Overnight Cheltenham.
Day 10: Departure.