These 6 days give you the chance to discover the real essence of the Cotswolds from its honey coloured limestone buildings to its exquisite country gardens. The walking is at a relaxed pace and our expert local guide will help bring the fascinating history to life from the famous "Cotswold Lion" and the fabulously wealthy wool merchants to the iconic architecture and gardens that followed. All walks are optional and as the tour is fully supported clients can opt in or out for half a day's walk at any time to allow extra time to enjoy the villages or your accommodation facilities. Our self-select accommodation options allow you to choose accommodation that better suits your budget and not everyone wants a large dinner every night.
Day 1 Sunday: Arrive in Chipping Campden
Your guide Robert Talbot will meet you at midday and give you an introduction to the Cotswolds followed by lunch and a short walk. Overnight in Chipping Campden or nearby at your preferred accommodation. Lunch and group dinner included.
Day 2 Monday: Broadway Tower, Stanton and Stanway House
(walking distance 6 miles / 9.5km)
Our tour begins at Broadway Tower, some believe the folly was created as a link between the two estates of the Earl of Coventry and others a token of love for his homesick wife. On a clear day views extend into Wales. Our walk begins in Broadway as we make our way across open sheep pastures to the perfectly preserved village of Stanton which appears frozen in time. The main street is often used in TV and film sets due to its unspoilt nature. Our final destination is Stanway House where we enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn followed by a private guided tour of the house and newly renovated and fully working watermill. We return to Chipping Campden and your accommodation. Before dinner we are treated to a slide show by a Cotswold Warden. Lunch and group dinner included.
Day 3 Tuesday: Hidcote Garden and Chipping Campden
(walking distances 8 miles / 13 km)
We set out along the majestic high street of Chipping Campden, adorned with the fine houses of former wool merchants whose enormous wealth created the foundations of the village we see today. We make our way to Hidcote Garden which was designed and created by the American Major Lawrence Johnston in the Arts and Crafts style. The garden is made up of a series of beautiful garden rooms, each possessing it own unique character. After lunch we head back on a different route to further explore Chipping Campden, where we see the 15th-century wool church, the 17th-century almhouses, market hall and the remains of Campden House, which was destroyed in the English Civil War. Free time to explore the many interesting stores and shops fronts before returning to your accommodation. Lunch included.
Day 4 Wednesday (September): Downton Abbey
Note that Day 4 is different on the July tour.
Downton Abbey (known as Highclere Castle) has become hugely popular with TV audiences around the world. For those that wish, we offer the chance to bring this all to life in a day full of TV and literary figures for a tour of the house and grounds of Highclere Castle. Our first stop will be Swinbrook and it's connections with the famous and colourful family known as the Mitford sisters. Nancy Mitford wrote "In Pursuit of Love" and as for the other sisters you will just have to wait for the tour! Close by is the Cotswold Woollen Weavers centre at Filkins for a potted history of the weaving industry in the Cotswolds and how it continues to this day. Continuing the Downton theme we visit Bampton to see the village setting for the TV show. We arrive at Highclere Castle at lunch time and have time to explore the house and gardens. We drive via the scenic villages of Lechlade and Fairford for a spot of tea before finishing in the market town of Cirencester, considered the capital of the Cotswolds for 3 nights. Lunch included.
For those that wish to continue their walking adventure instead of having a Downton Abbey day, we will make sure the services of Robert are available for a beautiful 9 mile circular walk through the enchanting villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter with the reward of a country pub lunch. The walk follows the Windrush and Warden's Way through ancient woodland and river meadows.
Day 4 Wednesday (July): Blenheim Palace
Note that Day 4 is different on the September tour.
Our tour begins on the edge of the Duke of Marlborugh's estate. The palace was built and paid for by a grateful Queen and nation for the heroic leadership of the First Duke at the battle of Blindheim (Blenheim) in 1704. The grounds were first created by Capability Brown and successive Duke's added their own touches to make it the World Heritage site it is today. Winston Churchill was born and died here and is buried in the nearby village of Bladon. You will have a guided tour of the palace before we have a hearty pub lunch. We head to your accommodation in the charming village of Burford for 3 nights. Lunch included.
Day 5 Thursday: Bibury and Cirencester
(walking distances 7 miles / 11km)
We begin our tour at Coln St. Aldwyns and walk along the River Coln to Bibury, with its famous Arlington Row, a group of medieval weavers' cottages. After lunch we continue our walk back to Coln St. Aldwyns and drive to the ancient Roman town of Cirencester for a guided tour and free time to explore the award winning Roman museum. Lunch included.
Day 6 Friday: Malmesbury and Abbey House
(walking distances 6 miles / 9.5km)
We enjoy the delights of Abbey House gardens and take a walk around the hilltop village of Malmesbury reputed to be the oldest continually inhabited village in England. Traditional crafts still remain throughout the Cotswolds and what better way to end the week than at the Cotswold Woollen weavers centre and a welcome cup of tea!! Farewell group dinner. Lunch and dinner included.
Note: On rare occasions it may be necessary to change the sequence of the walks, or a section of a route, due to factors outside our control - i.e. weather, footpath diversions, museum closures etc.
Click to see photos of this tour: Scenic Cotswolds Guided Tour Photo Gallery
YOUR GUIDE: Robert Talbot
Robert trained as a cartographer and worked for an international book publisher before his love of walking took over. He has lived in the Cotswolds for 17 years and is experienced in leading interpretive walks in the Cotswolds. Robert is the creator of the Winchcombe Way and author of the Winchcombe Way Guide with appearances on radio and TV. He is also a Cotswold Voluntary Warden and secretary of "Winchcombe Walkers are Welcome"'.
Read more on our blog: Introducing Robert Talbot and A Day in the Life of Robert Talbot.