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Hiking Cotswolds Way: A Truly Memorable Escape
4 Min Read
11 June 2024
Hiking Cotswolds Way: A Truly Memorable Escape

My first several months working in the marketing department at Macs Adventure has been full of learning, building new relationships, and immersing myself in our brand and business. But, until you actually get out on one of our many self-guided trips, you can’t fully understand how it truly feels to get the Macs experience (especially being from the USA), a void I desperately needed filled. Enter my week in May in the Cotswolds of England with my wife, and a wonderful adventure unlike any other we’ve had before. 

Jeff Werkheiser & Wife sitting on a bench in the Cotswolds

Getting to the Cotswolds

We flew overnight direct from Denver to Heathrow, landing mid-morning UK time and hopped on the Heathrow Express to the Paddington Station in London to await our train to the beginning of our Macs Adventure. There are options for how to make the 85 mile commute to Moreton-in-Marsh from London - we had pre-booked train tickets through Omio, an online travel ticket outlet recommended by Macs. A pro-tip: always prepare for the unexpected- our train was canceled due to labor strikes. Luckily, we were able to get on the next one after only an hour delay. This seems like no big deal but as someone unfamiliar with UK train systems, preparing in advance that something like this might happen helped with how to handle it when it did!

The taxis were lined up directly outside the train station in Moreton-in-Marsh, ready for passengers to hop in upon arrival, no pre-booking needed, and it seems most if not all accepted credit cards (and by tap) which was helpful and convenient. Before we knew it, we were checking in at the Volunteer Inn in Chipping Campden, ready to start our adventure the next morning.

As we set out on day 1 of the journey, I happened to quickly meet our luggage company, Cotswold Luggage Transfers, just to get a better feel for exactly how it all worked. Was it as seamless as we make it sound? Well, the answer is a resounding yes. Each afternoon our bags were waiting for us either in the lobby or in our new rooms of that night’s accommodation. You literally just drop your bags off (with your tags on them) in the respective pick-up spot each morning - that’s it. Macs arranges all luggage transfers for you during the booking process so you don't have to worry about this very helpful detail.

Self-guided Hiking The Cotswolds Way

As we were on our way, the reality set in that you’re in the middle of the English countryside, together but alone. It’s incredibly peaceful. Quiet and calm. The sounds of lambs and birds provide the chorus for the daytime throughout the green rolling hills. Each leg was absolutely at our pace. If we wanted to stop and explore a bit, hike up a hill for a different view, or meet one of the local farm dogs - we could (and did!). Along the way, the Macs Adventure app was incredibly helpful and comprehensive. I work for Macs, but I hadn’t yet been on a live route to really test the experience and it really was great, with accurate live tracking, tips and tricks, contact info of our next hotel if we needed it, and much more. This sounds like it’s straight out of a marketing ad, but it really was a support system in the palm of our hands.  

Baby lamb in the Cotswolds

We did one of the shortest variation of the Cotswolds that Macs offers (“Escape to the Cotswolds”) which is 3 days of walking with a day at the beginning to arrive and a day at the end to depart. For us, it was just right and we still got about 32 miles in! The weather was absolutely immaculate, perfectly blue skies and sunny with a nice breeze to cool off the warmth. We were lucky! Flowers were in full bloom and sheep were walking about pretty much every hill we crossed.

The logistics of the experience were spot on, but it really was the connection I was able to get with my wife while simply just walking together day after day that I might remember the most. We have three kids and endless associated busy family schedules back home, so this type of protected time together is quite rare - and we were definitely able to make the most of it. 

In thinking about the route, one of my favorite things about this part of the Cotswolds Way was how varied the terrain and experience felt, from mile to mile. One moment you could be climbing up a long grassy hill (some parts were a bit steep on the incline, more than we expected), and another you’re in a full canopy of tall trees, followed up by dirt roads extending through farms full of horses and cows. There were some rocky parts, muddy parts, lush grass, gravel, paved - it’s all part of it. We were wearing trail hiking shoes, but I’d recommend going up a level to boots as some of the transition areas at gates got a bit muddy or hills could be somewhat slippery. For more information about what to pack for your Cotswolds adventure, check out our “What to Pack for Walking in the Cotswolds” blog.

Homes in the Cotswolds

The trail itself was not busy, only seeing a few people here and there over the course of many miles. But, getting into the beautiful villages was always a welcome contrast to round out the day. Our favorite village was either Broadway or Winchcombe, but all had such high quality food, cozy and friendly pubs, cute shops, and perfectly manicured buildings and landscaping. The hardest part was deciding what pictures to take as literally everything looked like it was straight out of an English postcard. 

Along the way, we detoured in order to check out the Broadway Tower, up the hill from the aforementioned village of Broadway. As Americans, we don’t get to see real castles on a regular basis, so this was a must, and we were able to go to the top to take in a longer view of the Cotswolds. 

Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds

I am a bit of a history buff, so I also enjoyed stopping to learn about Cromwell’s Seat Monument at Beckbury Iron Age Hillfort, as well as the ruins of Hailes Abbey and the Hailes Church, which is believed to have been built in the 1300s. And Belas Knap Long Barrow, a chamber built into the hillside by prehistoric people of the area, to bury their dead. Lastly, the top of Cleve Hill overlooking Bishop’s Cleve and Cheltenham - a perfect place to sit and reflect. It’s an added bonus the fascinating stories that live throughout the hills of the Cotswolds. 

Where to Stay on the Cotswolds Way

On top of how great the actual hike was, all of our accommodations were simply stunning. The Volunteer Inn in Chipping Campden had a locals pub feel, with many enjoying a lager after a day of work, mingling with tourists. For our night in Toddington we stayed at the Forge House, a private B&B which included a robust and healthy breakfast in the dining room. In Winchcombe we were at The Lion Inn, with a beautiful room and the benefit of a cozy, flower-filled backyard and a village full of energy and authentic pubs. Lastly, our final accommodation was The Grange Hotel in Cheltenham, with a very spacious, welcoming room and a nice view of the surrounding city. 

The Volunteer Inn in the Cotswolds

On Day 5, we took a quick taxi to Cheltenham station and landed back on our pre-booked train heading for London, which serves as a great moment to sit back and reflect on the week. 

Our escape to the Cotswolds was unforgettable. From our inviting accommodations and the local wildlife to the seamless luggage transfers and the Macs mobile app, along with excellent food and friendly people, every aspect of our trip was perfect. My wife and I will cherish this experience forever.

Jeff Werkheiser

Written by

Jeff Werkheiser
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