Cotswolds Walking Guide
The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers about 800 square miles in six counties of England. It is mostly farmland, both cultivated and pasture, with some areas of woodland and open upland. Bearing this in mind staying on signed rights of way is important so as to maintain the important balance between landowner and visitor.
Today villages are scattered across the landscape with church towers and spires forming useful landmarks. Many of these have a number of interesting and picturesque buildings including some beautiful thatched cottages complete with wonderful gardens. This pattern of population has developed through the centuries with much evidence of former inhabitants still to be seen. Five thousand years of history leaves its mark and today there are Iron Age hill forts, Roman Roads, medieval monasteries, grand houses and much more besides.
The Cotswold Hills are perfect for exploring on foot with the northern sector a well known tourist area. The south Cotswolds, less well known, are equally attractive with their steep sided hills, beechwoods and peaceful villages of mellow Cotswold stone. In Shakespeare's day this was sheep country and the centre of England's wool industry. The rich wool merchants built many of the lovely churches and manor houses that date from the 15th to 17th centuries.
The Cotswold Way is the major long distance trail in the area and provides an excellent route for those who prefer a challenge. Away from this major route there are walks to suit everyone from short circular walks lasting an hour or so to more lengthy excursions lasting a full day. With villages hard to avoid there is always a pub close at hand - perhaps explaining why this area has received such popularity in recent years.