Trip Number: 13600A
Price: $4,145 (11-14)
$4,595 (or fewer)
Staff: Rochelle Gerratt
- Walk 4 to 11 miles on four days through the picturesque Cotswolds in
- Explore storybook villages, Roman ruins, medieval abbeys, and lush
- Enjoy tours of London, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Neolithic
stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury
- Local guides with specialties in the area's history, culture, and nature
- Tours of regional gardens, medieval castle, and restored Roman bath
- Accommodations in country inns and small hotels, meals, entry fees,
ground transportation, airport transfers and gratuities
Please note that the trip dates have changed from what was originally published. If you
have questions, please
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Join us in our visit to some of England’s most quintessential sites.
This tour is an excellent introduction for those who have never visited this
most fascinating country and a treat for those experienced travelers who haven’t
yet had the chance to walk the charming paths of the Cotswolds region.
England may be a small country, but it has a rich historical legacy that leaves
a fascinating mix of culture, language, and landscape. On this tour we concentrate
on the southern area of this island empire. Southern England’s countryside
is gently undulating, with hilly areas in the Cotswolds and farmland between
the towns and cities.
We begin our trip in London, where we spend a full day with a local guide visiting
some of that city’s top attractions like the London Eye, the Tower of
London, and a boat trip on the River Thames. We then drive west to the village
of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds to start our four-day walk from village
to village. We will wander up and down the 900-ft limestone Cotswold Escarpment,
with its tapestry of hills, small acreage farms, and woodlots. Carrying only
a day pack, we will walk from 4 to 13 miles, with an elevation change of between
200 and 1,000 feet each day. Our luggage will be transported from each night’s
accommodation to the following night’s inn.
"Cotswold" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Cote," or sheep
fold. "Wold" refers to an unfenced tract of land. It is an area rich
with evidence of the Iron Age, and Celtic and Roman occupation. Our route crosses
ruins of ancient barrows and fortifications dating as far back as 2500 BC. It
passes monuments erected to memorialize military and religious exploits of past
native "sons," and winds by estates of wealthy noble families. We
will undoubtedly see signs of late spring in the countryside: crops starting
to emerge in the fields and just-born lambs frolicking. Every day we walk among
rolling hills, fields, villages, gardens, churches, and thatched-roof houses.
The route takes us through towns with antique stores, tea rooms, museums, and
pubs. We stay at small hotels and B&Bs, sampling the local cuisine and selecting
snacks and lunch fare as we pass quaint shops. The beautiful honey-colored stone
found in the Cotswolds appears in the houses, barns, and field walls we see
along our way. At times we walk on just a path through parkland and pasture
as we follow farm roads, with the occasional highway or railroad crossing. Splendid
views are to be had from ridges and hilltops. The exceptional natural features
of this area have resulted in its designation by the government of the United
Kingdom as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
From Hidcote, the last Cotswold village that we visit, we drive to Shakespeare’s
town of birth, Stratford-upon-Avon, for a day’s tour. For those who are
interested, there is an optional opportunity to attend a Shakespeare play that
evening. Our next stop is Bath, a city famous for its history of Roman and Georgian
architecture and its natural thermal springs. It has more protected historic
buildings than any other city of its size in England. We spend two nights in
Bath with plenty of time to tour the town and visit the recently renovated Roman
Baths Museum. There is an opportunity for an optional visit to Thermae Bath
Spa, the luxurious warm springs spa in Bath.
From Bath we stop at two of the most famous Neolithic sites in the world, Stonehenge
and Avebury. As old as the pyramids, these stone circles amazed medieval Europeans
and continue to amaze modern travelers. We will walk around these structures
that are full of mystery and majesty. We return to London for our last night’s
farewell dinner and depart for home the following morning.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Itinerary is subject to change based on weather or other factors.
Day 1: We arrive in London and transfer to our centrally located
hotel. We meet for an orientation session and enjoy our welcome dinner together.
Day 2: After breakfast we take a full day’s guided tour
of some of the central highlights of London with our local guide. These may
include riding the London Eye, taking a boat trip on the River Thames, and visiting
The Tower of London. We will tour on foot and by metropolitan tube. Lodging
is at our London hotel.
Day 3: This morning we transfer by private bus to Bourton-on-the-Water,
called “the Venice of the Cotswolds” because of its quaint canals.
We join our guide for lunch and then take our first walk of 4 miles. Lodging
is in the nearby village of Lower Slaughter.
Day 4: From Lower Slaughter we walk along the River Windrush
to the picturesque villages of Naunton and Guiting Power. Then on through woods
and fields before our descent to the ancient Saxon capital of Winchcombe, close
to Sudeley Castle, last resting place of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth
wife. Our route today takes us over 13 miles. We overnight in Winchcombe, with
its fascinating church and local museums.
Day 5: Today we follow the pilgrims' route to Hailes Abbey,
then over the hills to Jacobean Stanway House, with its magnificent gatehouse
and medieval tithe barn and on to idyllic Stanton. Our mileage today is 10.5
miles. Tonight we stay in the coaching village of Broadway, where an array of
fine houses and inns flank the "broad way."
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
We walk uphill to Broadway Tower, the 18th-century “folly”
with fine views across the vale before descending to Chipping Campden, the loveliest
of all Cotswold villages, with its covered market place, beautiful “wool”
church, almshouses, and silversmith. This village is considered one of the most
beautiful in England and is well worth exploring. This afternoon we walk to
Hidcote or Kiftsgate gardens. Today’s walk totals close to 8 miles. We
overnight in Chipping Campden.
This morning we drive to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace
of Shakespeare. This pretty, historic market town has many interesting buildings
and gardens. We tour the town at a leisurely pace. There is an optional opportunity
to attend an evening performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company. We overnight
in Chipping Campden.
After breakfast we drive to Bath. We meet our guide
and take a city tour on foot. We visit the recently renovated Roman Baths in
the afternoon. Bath, with its showcase of classical Georgian architecture, is
recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Bath’s Georgian
terraces, crowned by the magnificent Royal Circus and Royal Crescent, climb
dramatically up the hillsides, while the historic centre, where the Roman baths
and ancient abbey still stand, is in a splendid location by the River Avon.
We overnight in Bath.
Today we tour the local area with our guide in our private
bus. We visit Highgrove, home of Prince Charles, and then Lacock village in
the afternoon. Lacock Village, dating back to the 13th century, remains largely
unchanged over the centuries and has many limewashed, half-timbered and stone
houses. During the Middle Ages Lacock became a prosperous and thriving town
through its wool industry. The village was well placed for communications, sited
on the “cloth road” from London and the River Avon. The village
has been preserved and protected from any form of development and is frequently
used for TV and film dramas. We return to our lodging in Bath for the evening.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
After breakfast we leave Bath and drive back to London.
On our way we stop to tour Stonehenge and Avebury, two of the most famous pre-historic
archaeological sites in the world. Stonehenge’s iconic stone circle is
as old as the pyramids and still impresses visitors today. Avebury dates to
2800 B.C, older than Stonehenge by six centuries. Its complex of great stones
is much larger than Stonehenge’s and more accessible to visitors. Tonight
we enjoy our farewell dinner and overnight at our hotel in London.
After breakfast we transfer to the London airport for
our flights home.
This trip begins and ends in London. You can fly into London's Heathrow or
Gatwick airport and take a train or bus to our hotel in London. The trip leader
will reimburse you for the fare. Participants are encouraged to arrive at least
one day before our official start time to get through the almost unavoidable
jet lag. Many take advantage of this extra time to visit some of the many sights
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
We will be using historic bed & breakfasts, inns, and small hotels. Rooms
will be double occupancy. Based on availability, single-room supplements may
be available for an additional cost. Breakfasts will be hearty, with choices
ranging from full English egg-and-meat breakfasts to continental fare. Our midday
meal may be a box lunch, a pub lunch, or food purchased at local markets. Dinners
will be provided at our larger accommodations or at nearby pubs or restaurants.
Vegetarians will be accommodated. If you have other dietary needs, please discuss
this with the leader.
This trip is rated moderate in physical difficulty. In the Cotswolds we will
walk between 4 and 13 miles with an elevation change of between 200 and 1,000
feet per day. All walks are on trails or paths through fields or on roads. Some
agility is needed to climb stepladder stiles over stone walls without difficulty.
For all other days of the trip we walk through typical city terrain.
Some rain is to be expected and can make any walk through the Cotswolds more
challenging. Our luggage is shuttled to our accommodations each day; however,
each participant must carry a day pack with lunch, drinking water, raingear,
a warm sweater, and any other items needed during the day.
Your enjoyment of this trip will depend on your preparation and general fitness
level. Regular hiking will prepare your legs, feet, and ankles for this trip.
Equipment and Clothing
It can rain a bit in England! Even if it is not raining, some areas can be
very wet and boggy, so sturdy walking shoes or boots that are waterproofed are
a must. Gaitors can be helpful to keep the mud off your ankles. A two-piece
waterproof rain suit is also necessary to keep warm and dry, and you may consider
bringing an umbrella. The leader will make other suggestions about clothing
in more detailed letters, listing what you may need for daytime and nighttime
activities. If you have trekking poles, please bring them as they will be very
useful. We expect daytime temperatures to be in the 50s to 60 during the day
and 40s to 50s at night.
- Bryson, Bill, Notes from a Small Island.
- Else, David et al., England. Lonely Planet.
- Hobbes, Nicolas, England: 1000 Things You Need to Know.
- Lee, Laurie, Cider with Rosie. (Set in the Cotswolds)
- Morton, HV, In Search of England.
- Schama, Simon, A History of Britain.
- Sterry, Paul, Complete Guide to British Wildlife.
- The Cotswolds (Burford, Chipping Campden, Cirencester & Stow-on-the-Wold)
– OL45 – OS Explorer Map – www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/leisure
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots
involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward understanding environmentally
parallel concerns at home and abroad.
England has been heavily populated for hundreds of years and most of the land
is used for human endeavor. England’s national parks are typically designated
around scenic areas that are largely in private hands. This designation helps
control development and non-conforming uses.
The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) recently received an
international award for delivering and promoting sustainable tourism. The Cotswolds
was one of 11 European parks and protected areas awarded the prestigious European
Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.
The environmental topics on this outing include urban sprawl, intensive farming,
motorways, and the demand for vacation facilities that place heavy pressure
upon open space and wildlife habitat. We will take this opportunity to meet
with local conservationists and naturalists to explore these, and other, issues
of local and global interest.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Rochelle Gerratt has designed and led Sierra Club outings in Central and South America, Europe, the Mideast, and the U.S. for over ten years. Her trips feature hiking, good food, and authentic cultural experiences. An avid trekker and nature watcher, Rochelle works as a career coach when she is home. She looks forward to sharing England's special spots with you.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips