England has thousands of miles of footpaths and the 102 mile Cotswold Way, from Chipping Camden to Bath, is one of the country’s 16 National Trails.
Catherine and I spent a weekend in Chipping Camden a few years ago when we got engaged and we we walked a little part of the northern part of the trail. (It was beautiful and green but very muddy!) This long Easter weekend we were walking the bottom half and camping along the way.
We headed to Stroud to spend the night with Al and Bea in nearby Ebley and picked up the trail from just in front of their garden the following morning. It was just past 8 but the sun was already warm and the gorgeous weather would accompany us all the way to Bath.
Day 1 – Ebley to just before Wotton Hill
We made our way up and over Selsey Common and then Coaley Peak – both of which offered lovely views. We continued up Cam Long Down for a beautiful 360 view and a delicious picnic lunch amongst the bluebells. After lunch the trail headed through Dursley and we spotted shy Muntjac as we climbed the steep Stinchcombe Hill.
Walking around the golf course at the top of the hill felt like an afterthought for the route but that was soon forgotten as we enjoyed a beer in the sun in North Nibley’s only pub. We climbed up to the Tyndall Monument and found a spot in the woods before Wotton Hill to camp.
Day 2 – just before Wotton Hill to Tomarton
Thankfully we didn’t hear too many noises and both slept really well. After oats and coffee, we set off through the forest and past a curious walled enclosure of trees to commemorate the battle of Waterloo in 1815 before descending into Wotton – under Edge (with a few bakeries open early).
The trail took us through the town before the first climb of the day had us walking off our pastry. Nearby Newark Park is worth the short detour for the bathroom and tap! We continued along lovely woodland tracks that offered welcome shade and enjoyed our picnic lunch on the hill at Horton Fort.
After a delicious lunch in the shade, we continued past villages of Horton and Sodbury (both Little and Old), through the ridiculously expansive Curiosity Brown landscaped Doddington Park and onto Tomarton. We were camping on a wonderful patch of grass at the back of the Compass Inn, with its very welcoming manager and a sunny beer garden to enjoy a few late afternoon beers after a great day’s walking.
Day 3 – Tomarton to outside Bath
After the usual oats and coffee for breakfast, we made our way across farmland to Dyrham where we enjoyed a hot cross bun from the National Trust tea room with our flask of coffee on one of the garden’s many mounds.
We headed through the beautiful woods and across more farmland to Cold Ashton, which had marvellous views that stretched for miles across the English countryside.
We picked up a delicious ice-cold coke from a nursery we passed as we descended into the beautiful valley of Lower Hamswell. We enjoyed a long lunch and a game of frisbee on the hill on the other side before continuing past the civil war battlefield of Lansdown with stunning views across the countryside. We headed around the golf course, past the Bath racecourse and found a quiet, out the way spot to sneakily pitch our tent.
Day 4 – into Bath
It was an early start the following morning as we headed for Bath. After all the wonderful signposting, as soon as we got to Bath the signs suddenly shrunk, they changed colour to black and gold (to match the lampposts) and it turned in to more of a treasure hunt to the finish point. We nearly came close to completing our first walk ever without getting lost/arguing about directions … until we hit Bath!
We gave up and headed for the church spire instead and found the plaque in the floor. It was rather underwhelming! I hadn’t been to Bath since 2013 and the Mongol Rally pre-party and it was a little flashback moment walking through town as I recalled our hours of planning.
After a few days of oats for breakfast, which is really not my favourite, we enjoyed an amazing, well-earned and definitely not underwhelming full English veggie breakfast in Bath before getting on the train home!
It had been a phenomenal few days of walking in beautiful weather. Not much of the four days was flat and while the climbs were frequent, they were never long. It was also a nice mixture of woodland walking, farmland and beautiful views stretching for miles.
A walk can be a completely different experience at different times of year. Spring time in the Cotswolds meant the hedgerows were full, the sheep were busy looking after their lambs, the wild flowers carpeted the woodland floor and people’s gardens were full of flowers. It was beautiful! Everything was green and and as the clocks had also just changed the long days, and with the Easter holiday sunshine, it really felt like we were finally leaving winter behind us.
- Day 1: Ebbley to just before Wotton Hill – roughly 15 miles, 9 hours
- Day 2: Just before Wotton Hill to Tormarton – roughly 13,5 miles, 8.5 hours
- Day 3: Tormarton to outside Bath – roughly 12.5 miles, 7.5 hours
- Day 4: 4 miles into Bath
Accommodation – there’s not many camping options (which we why we wild camped for 2 nights out of 3) but all the towns and villages you pass through have lots of options.
The Compass Inn patch of grass in Tomarton is £5/person.
Food – we carried everything with us although you could just carry snacks and eat in the towns and villages you walk through.
Water – we were always keeping an eye out for a tap and didn’t have any issues finding one (or asking a restaurant in town if need be). There’s a tap at the golf course on the first day and at Newark Park on the second.
For cooking, we bought a 4l MSR water pouch which we would look to fill up as late in the day as possible. On the first day, there’s a tap after you’ve descended from the golf course (a local resident has kindly put a tap in) and on the third day we found a tap on the golf course (you’ll turn right across the course and when you do, pop to the forest that is on your left and behind the 1st row of trees you’ll see a tap).