This guide gives all the practical information needed to help to plan a walk on the Cotswold Way National Trail including which maps and guide books are available, how to get there, contacts for providers of tourist information, organised holidays and luggage transfer, and comprehensive details about accommodation and local services including pubs, cafes, banks village shops etc. The guide also gives information to help you to plan how far to walk in a day including charts to help you work out how far it is from one place to another, a brief descriptions of each of the 15 sections of the trail, with an overview map, and charts indicating the gradients on that section. This Companion is not designed as a route guide, and for detailed information about the Trail route itself "The Cotswold Way National Trail Guide" by Anthony Burton (Aurum Press) is available from most bookshops or can be purchased on line (ISBN 978 1 84513 914 9). The Cotswold Way, launched as a National Trail in 2007 follows the limestone escarpment on the western edge of the Cotswolds for 102 miles (164 km) from the market town of Chipping Campden in the north, to Bath in the south.
The Trail predominantly follows public footpaths and although it does have some sections that follow bridleways, byways and quiet roads these sections are fragmented and the Trail is only promoted to walkers. The Cotswolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 and was extended to become England's largest AONB in 1990. "The Cotswold Way National Trail" will take you through quintessentially English countryside, rich in history, yet very much a living, working landscape. The walk offers a variety of scenery for you to enjoy - limestone grasslands, Cotswold stone villages, grazing pastures with their dry stone walls, majestic beech woodlands, quiet valleys and stunning views over the Severn Vale to the Malverns, Forest of Dean and Wales. Walking along the Trail is an ideal way to explore this beautiful part of the country and enjoy the local hospitality away from the bustle of the crowds. Many people walk the Cotswold Way National Trail as one continuous journey, (taking between 5 and 8 days to complete) but it can also be enjoyed in shorter sections over a long weekend or just for a few hours.