This is a general stage by stage guide. For all the available day by day itineraries, please see the options on the right.
Arrive in Stratford-upon-Avon
The walk starts in Stratford-upon-Avon, a town steeped in history and culture where Shakespeare was born in 1564. You may want to add an extra night at the beginning of the walk to explore the many places associated with Shakespeare such as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Shakespeare Centre and take the time to visit the five houses in and around Stratford-upon-Avon connected to the famous playwright and his family. Stratford-upon-Avon is easily accessible from London in around two hours.
Stratford-upon-Avon to Shipston-on-Stour – 17 miles
Leaving Stratford-upon-Avon you cross the beautiful River Avon and the River Stour whose green and lush valley you follow for the first part of the trail. Walk through patchwork farmland with high hedgerows and pass thatched cottages, watermills and scenic churches. There are plenty of places to stop and admire the views. The path then brings you to the market town of Shipston-on-Stour. In times gone by it was known as Sheepstown and held regular livestock markets for local farmers.
Shipston-on-Stour to Chipping Norton – 14 miles
From Shipston-on-Stour the walking is relatively easy underfoot. Leaving the River Stour behind you, the climb up from the valley is worth it for the stunning views from the top.
Make time along the way for a short detour to visit the Rollright Stones an impressive and ancient Bronze Age collection of standing stones, the Kings Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights stone.
The welcome sight of Chipping Norton soon comes into view in the distance as you walk down towards Little Rollright Church. Chipping Norton is known as the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’ and is another bustling yet charming market town. Explore the medieval architecture or browse the many small gift shops.
Chipping Norton to Woodstock – 16 miles
Fantastic walking today! Leave Chipping Norton and follow closely what was the route of the old London Road. The trail joins the River Glyme for a short while and passes through the Glyme Valley Nature Reserve.
The walk takes you through ancient woodland carpeted with flowers and through the pretty villages of Glympton and Wooton.
As you come into the beautifully manicured Blenheim Park you will catch your first sight of Blenheim Palace and the immaculate gardens landscaped by Capability Brown. Why not add an extra night in Woodstock for a leisurely visit to Blenheim Palace and Gardens.
Woodstock to Oxford – 11 miles
Almost straight away you come across the village of Bladon where a wander through the churchyard will reveal the final resting place of Britain’s greatest statesman Sir Winston Churchill.
Grassy tracks through broadleaf woodlands and gentle meadows bring you to the Oxford Canal with its colourful narrowboats and bustling river life.
Following the river brings you to the historic City of Oxford with its many attractions and world renowned university, a great place to end your journey and spend some time sightseeing and reflecting on your journey.
Onward travel from Oxford is easy with regular trains to London Paddington (1hr), Birmingham (1hr 30mins) and other UK destinations. There are also regular buses to London and surrounding airports.
One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the Inns, Guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay.
They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We always try and book your accommodation as close as possible to the line of the trail.
Occasionally, in busy summer months walkers may need to venture a mile or so off the trail as the availability of quality accommodation can become scarce.
Please note that unless you plan to stay in Stratford Upon Avon for two nights, it is best to avoid starting on a Friday/Saturday night. Most accommodation providers in the area will only allow two night stays at the weekend which makes bookings more restrictive for us.
If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included, so you are free to choose from the available options. Most accommodations are more than happy to provide a packed lunch - this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.
We can offer this itinerary in either direction but the book is published from North to South, Stratford-upon-Avon to Oxford.
Additional Nights and Extensions
Many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk to sample more of the wonderful walking and attractions available on the Shakespeare Way. Extra nights can be added anywhere along the walk although we would recommend Stratford-upon-Avon, Woodstock (for Blenheim Palace) or Oxford as there is plenty to keep you busy on a rest day.
If you wish to reduce the number of nights we can tailor your trip to your requirements.
Tailor Made Holidays
We are always more than happy to tailor our standard itineraries to suit. Just let us know what you would like and we will be happy to arrange a tailor made walking holiday.
This route is graded as moderate, it is mainly walking on existing pathways, bridleways and some minor roads.
The route is waymarked by post with small plastic roundels or stickers with the Shakespeare Way logo and a yellow or blue arrow. You will also have access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App enabling you to follow the route using your phone’s GPS so using this combined with the provided route notes and maps means you should have no problems finding your way.
We welcome solo walkers on Shakespeare's Way although you should, of course, take extra care in the outdoors when walking solo. A supplement will apply to baggage transfers.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most accommodations are more than happy to provide a packed lunch - this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person. Please ensure that you do not bring more than one bag of 20kg as if this occurs, the luggage transfer company will ask you to pay an additional fee (approx. £5.00 per day, per bag). This additional payment, should it be necessary, needs to be made locally to the driver and in cash.
It is also very important that your bag is clearly labelled (and any additional bags). If they are not labelled we cannot guarantee that they will reach you at the next accommodation.
If you are travelling from far afield and do have more than one bag it is possible to arrange for the extra luggage to be stored whilst you are on the tour for a fee of £25 per bag. These additional bags would be picked up from your accommodation at the start point of your tour and dropped off wherever you finish depending on the itinerary you are doing. Please contact us if you are interested in this option.on.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distance and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
Getting to Stratford-upon-Avon
By Car: We don't recommend that you drive to Stratford-upon-Avon as long term parking is expensive. There is limited unsecure on street parking in the outlying residential areas.
By Train: There are regular direct trains from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon (2 hrs 20mins) and Brimingham (1hour). Manchester is also accessible by train (3hrs).
By Coach: You can get to Stratford-upon-Avon by coach from London Victoria (3.5hrs) and Birmingham (1hr)
Onward Travel from Oxford
By Train: There are regular direct trains to London Paddington (1hr 15mins), Birmingham (1hr 40mins) and Manchester (3hrs)
By Coach: The Oxford Tube coach service runs 24hrs a day 7 days a week from Oxford into central London (2hrs). There are also regular coach services to other destinations such as Birmingham (2hrs), London Heathrow Airport (1hr 40mins) and London Gatwick Airport (2.5hrs)
- Bed and breakfast in comfortable B&B's
- Door to door baggage transfer.
- A detailed info pack and guidebook
- Access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App
- Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem
- Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks
- Entrance fees (where applicable)
- Travel Insurance
- Transport should you need to skip a stage
We are often asked the following questions and hope that you will find the answers useful.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice or specific questions about the walk.
How fit do I need to be?
The Shakespeare's Way is an easy and accessible walk. That said there will be a number of ascents and descents - most noticeably where the path crosses river valleys. It helps to have done some multi day walking before and regular cardio vascular exercise prior to your holiday will increase your fitness levels and therefore your enjoyment of the walk.
How do the baggage transfers work?
Your bags will be
transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto
your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to
one bag of up to 15kg per person.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this route is very popular. Given its proximity to London and the more populated areas in the South of England the trail can get busy - especially in the summer montrhs. To ensure you have quality accommodation, on or near to the trail its best to book as soon as you know your available dates.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. You can download a full equipment list from the downloads page of our website.
When is the best time of year?
This walking holiday can be enjoyed from March to October. Summer can be hot in the South of England and very busy especially over the school holidays. We would advise walking in the Spring to see the wild flowers that boarder the fields you walk through.
Am I able to take my dog?
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. In some cases the baggage transfer service that takes your bags on to your next accommodation may be able to assist. Our office can assist with helpful advice should you need to arrange transport for yourself or anyone in your party.