Autumn is one of my favourite times to visit the Cotswolds. There’s something magical about the crisp mornings and the unmistakable crunch of freshly fallen leaves beneath your toes. Few areas in England are as charming as the Cotswolds and it’s no surprise that this region has long been regarded as perfect walking country. I could easily spend hours wandering aimlessly from village to village, in between occasional stops for cream tea and hot chocolates by a log fire.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced hiker, there are plenty of walking choices for all levels of fitness. For avid hikers, the scenic Cotswold Way National Trail is a popular route which winds through 102 miles of rolling hills, snaking river valleys and charming villages full of honey coloured cottages.
For day trippers, the list of short walks is endless. But a trip to the Cotswolds isn’t complete without a visit to the Slaughters. Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter are two typical Cotswold villages linked by the River Eye. A good starting point for a hike is Upper Slaughter, where you will see some of the most beautiful homes and manors in the Cotswolds. If you’re feeling decadent stop by Lords of the Manor, set in eight acres of lush landscaped gardens. You will feel like you’re on the set of Downton Abbey! Then follow the winding road down to Lower Slaughter and visit the river and the water mill.
From here, you can follow the signs from Lower Slaughter to Bourton on the Water via the River Eye. If you continue along the river you will find a gate which leads to a footpath crossing over two fields – make sure you say hello to my furry friends along the way. You will eventually reach a main road where you turn right then turn left down Station Road towards the town’s High Street. Here you will find the “Venice of the Cotswolds”.
Another one of my favourite walks is Bibury to Barnsley. Bibury has been described by William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”. And this is a fair call. Start at Arlington Row, an attractive row of weavers’ cottages then follow the River Coln towards the trout farm. From here follow the hilly route to Barnsley where you will see a magical kaleidoscope of autumnal tones in the river valley. Reward yourself with a little pit stop at Barnsley House – a country hotel like no other. The food is expensive here, but if you call in for a coffee you may be treated to some of their delicious home-made biscuits.
For more tips about what to see and where to eat in the Cotswolds click here.