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Birdlip to Kings Stanley

Hiking route · Cotswolds
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  • Path through Birdlip Woods
    Path through Birdlip Woods
    Photo: Iain Grant, Macs Adventure

A pleasant woodland walk leads away from Birdlip before the ascent onto Cooper’s Hill. Continuing through Buckholt Wood, the path crosses Painswick Golf Course before the leisurely walk into Painswick. Leaving Painswick is a short but delightful walk through open meadows, shaded woodland, and open common with some of the finest views on the Cotswold Way.

Distance 26.6 km
8:30 h
480 m
668 m
272 m
26 m

A gentle woodland walk leads out of Birdlip, following the foot of the escarpment towards Cooper’s Hill. The woods are a carpet of flowering plants in the spring. The path then climbs steeply up to the top of Cooper’s Hill, the location of the famous annual Cheese Rolling festival! Continuing through Buckholt Wood and Painswick Golf Course, a short detour to Painswick Beacon is recommended. From Painswick, follow ancient woodlands, rural tranquillity and vast panoramas combine to deliver a walker’s paradise on today’s walk. Stanley Mill on the edge of Kings Stanley once employed 1,000 people and is a testament to the area's rich history in the woollen trade.

Author’s recommendation

At the top of Cooper’s Hill look down the steep slope and imagine the sanity, or not of chasing a large roll of cheese down the hill -  a quick search on youtube you will see what we are talking about! We also recommend the short detour from the way onto Painswick Beacon is rewarded with extensive views over the surrounding area.

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Adventure Macs
Update: January 19, 2023
Highest point
272 m
Lowest point
26 m

Track types

Asphalt 0.60%Dirt road 0.11%Forested/wild trail 7.29%Path 45.67%Road 2.23%Unknown 44.07%
0.2 km
Dirt road
0 km
Forested/wild trail
1.9 km
12.2 km
0.6 km
11.7 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

The Royal George Birdlip
Cheese Rolling Festival Location (Cooper's Hill)
Painswick Beacon
Painswick Rococo Garden
The Oak
The Falcon Inn
St Mary's Church
Cliff Well
Haresfield Beacon
Vine Tree Inn
Carpenters Arms
Waymarker - Stonehouse location for an evening sit-down meal
Stanley Mill
Kings Head
General Food & Drink Supplies - Kings Stanley

Safety information


There are several sections of the walk today where you might encounter traffic but most minor roads are quiet.   However, care should be taken when leaving Birdlip at the start of the walk as there is only a narrow path. Although only a short distance the road is narrow and busy. Also when crossing the main road at Cranham Corner. The main street down into Painswick is also narrow and traffic can be busy at peak times so be vigilant when arriving and leaving Painswick. Also, when crossing the main road at Edge and Ryeford on the final section into Kings Langley. This is a major dual carriageway and must be crossed at the lights.

There are a few descents and one steep climb up Cooper’s Hill which might be tricky during or after wet weather.

When crossing Painswick Golf Course be alert for golfers playing their shots and always remember to give way if needed.

In today's section, you may cross fields with livestock. Treat them with respect and walk safely past them, taking a wide berth if they happen to be grazing on the path.

The Cotswold Way is well marked so navigation should be straightforward. Look out for the acorn signs which are the National Trail Markers.

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

Please see the interactive map for notable points of interest along the walk, including recommended pubs/restaurants and tearoom stops.  Simply click the icons on the map for more information as you walk. 


Food and Drink 

There are a number of shops, cafes and two pubs in Painswick. Also, there is a small general store where you can stock up on food and drink. There is a Post Office, tourist information office and a pharmacy in the town. Barring a pub in Randwick (which requires a short detour off the trail), there are no other facilities in this section until arrival in Kings Stanley. You may also wish to come off the trail into Stonehouse before arriving in Kings Stanley for dinner - see the section below on this.


Packed lunch today is not essential but still worth taking. You should be able to grab something in Painswick (around the halfway point of the walk). 

Post walk Drinks

Kings Head Pub in Kings Stanley (currently waiting on their kitchen being renovated and don't do food).


IMPORTANT NOTE ON EVENING MEAL IN KINGS STANLEY: Unfortunately at the time of writing this (Summer 2022) due to Covid also there are currently no options for a sit-down meal in Kings Stanley - the only option previously was the King's Head but they are renovating their kitchen for the foreseeable future (no word yet when it will be open). Your only option currently is to get a takeaway meal and eat it at your accommodation. Alternatively, if you do want an evening sit-down meal you can go to the Main Street of neighbouring town Stonehouse where most of the restaurants are located. Trip Advisor recommendations are as follows:    

To get to Stonehouse you can do the following:

Walk (come off the trail and go before heading to your accommodation):  There are various trails that come off the Cotswold Way into Stonehouse as you walk towards Kings Stanley. This is a good option for those not wanting to detour back in the evening.

Walk (via Kings Stanley): Alternatively, if your legs are still feeling fresh, you can walk to your accommodation, freshen up then walk back to Stonehouse later on in the day. It is approx 1.5 miles each way from Kings Stanley (approximately 30-45 mins walk each way)

Bus: Monday-Saturday you can catch a 66 bus (PDF timetable provided on the link). This service goes to/from Stonehouse to both King’s Stanley and Leonard Stanley and runs well into the evening. Unfortunately on a Sunday/Bank Holiday, the service does not run in the evenings.

Taxi: Costs vary – expect to pay between £7-10 per journey. We are not partnered with any taxi companies directly in King’s/Leonard Stanley or Stonehouse so to save on costs we recommend you book one locally via a google search or ask your accommodation for their recommendation.


Public Transport 

A taxi is probably a better/cheaper alternative than public transport.

There are various ways to get to Kings Stanley from Birdlip but it likely requires multiple connecting journeys - generally, you need to take a bus to Cheltenham first to then get a connecting bus to Stonehouse (varies depending on the time of day and a google search is probably the best option to check this at the time you wish to make this journey). 

Please note that bus services may be affected by public bank holidays in the UK and in some cases may run a limited service or no service at all on weekends.


Recommended Local Taxi Services along the Cotswold Way

Northwick Private Hire (Chipping Campden Area): +44 (0) 1386 701 806

TDM Taxis (Broadway Area): +44 (0) 7919 160 630

Starline Taxi (Cheltenham/Charlton Kings Area): +44 (0) 1242 250 250

Galaxy Private Hire (Dursley/Painswick/Wotton-Under-Edge Area): +44 (0) 7796 545 261

V Cars (Alternative for Wotton-Under-Edge Area): +44 (0) 1793 701 701


Cotswold Way signpost, main road into Birdlip (259 m)
OS Grid
SO 92427 14554
51.829552, -2.111296
51°49'46.4"N 2°06'40.7"W
30U 561240 5742454


Old Rectory, Kings Stanley.

Turn-by-turn directions

*** To help you follow the route with confidence we have provided full written turn-by-turns to aid you on your walk from Birdlip to Kings Stanley. Whilst, the Cotswolds are waymarked it can be featureless and off the beaten path at some sections so we strongly suggest that you follow the GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***


DISCLAIMER: Please note, the distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the direct routes at the time of our pathfinder walking them (this excludes walking to/from your accommodation to the start/end point, or for example coming off the path for lunch). There may be some slight discrepancies/small diversions that make the distances slightly out compared to your own mapping software (Strava/Garmin/Apple Watch).


0.00 Km – Standing by the Cotswold Way signpost and with your back to the main Birdlip road, GO STRAIGHT ON down the wooden steps into the wood. At the bottom of the steps, TURN LEFT and GO STRAIGHT ON along the path. Do not go through the metal gate into the field.

0.20 km –Where the path forks, BEAR LEFT uphill and GO STRAIGHT ON, following the wooden marker posts to a wider track. Continue along this track.

1.00 km – At a track crossroads, GO STRAIGHT ON parallel to the steep Birdlip escarpment on the left for approx 1 km through the woods. These are covered by carpets of wild garlic, bluebells and wood anemones in the spring.

2.20 km – At another track junction BEAR RIGHT, following the wooden marker posts, and GO STRAIGHT ON for approx 1.5 km. Occasional views can be glimpsed through the trees on the right.

3.80 km – At a Cotswold Way signposted track junction, BEAR LEFT uphill, and GO STRAIGHT ON for approx 0.75 km.

4.60 km – Emerging from the woods by some buildings, GO STRAIGHT ON along the tarmac road.

4.90 km – At a road junction by a red post box BEAR LEFT uphill on the signposted path to Cranham Corner. GO STRAIGHT ON through the wooden gate and into Cooper’s Hill Nature Reserve. In 200 m BEAR LEFT steeply uphill to the top of Cooper’s Hill the scene of the famous May Bank Holiday Cheese Roll.

5.30 km – At the top of the hill BEAR RIGHT following the wooden marker posts downhill. In

200 m BEAR LEFT at the sharp bend and GO STRAIGHT ON through the woods.

6.00 km – At a wooden gate TURN LEFT and GO STRAIGHT ON through the woods.

6.80 km – At the information Board for Buckholt Wood BEAR RIGHT downhill to the road.

7.50 km – At the tarmac road TURN RIGHT along Buckholt Road to the main road and cross with care. GO STRAIGHT ON into the woods than in 100 m BEAR LEFT uphill, across a small tarmac road and into Buckholt Wood. GO STRAIGHT ON for approx 0.5 km.

8.20 km – Arriving at a tarmac road GO STRAIGHT ON, following the Cotswold Way signposts to Painswick, under a red & white height restriction barrier and across the golf course for approx 1 km. It is worth making the short detour up to Painswick Beacon for the panoramic view.

9.60 km – At a small tarmac road TURN LEFT downhill, and then almost immediately on the bend, BEAR RIGHT on the signed Cotswold Way path. Follow this path to the left of the quarry. GO STRAIGHT ON across the golf course following the marker posts to reach a road. When crossing the golf course be aware of golfers playing their shots and always give way.

10.80 km – Arriving at the Golf Club Road TURN RIGHT then BEAR RIGHT through the small car park and GO STRAIGHT ON down to the main road.

11.00 km – At the main road TURN LEFT and GO STRAIGHT ON downhill towards Painswick.

11.30 km – At the road junction, just past the red post box, BEAR RIGHT down the no-entry road (Gloucester Street).

11.70 km – At the crossroads TURN RIGHT onto New Street and GO STRAIGHT ON towards the church with the spire.

11.80 km – Arriving at Victoria Square in front of the church, Stand by the Cotswold Way signpost and face the church, GO STRAIGHT ON down New Street, past the church on your left. At the half-timbered lych-gate, cross the road with care and GO STRAIGHT ON along Edge Road, leaving Painswick with views over the Frome Valley. (If preferred you can start the walk by going through the churchyard to see the yew trees and unusual table tombs.)

12.10 km – At Hambutt’s Drive TURN LEFT through the wooden gate signposted to Edge and GO STRAIGHT ON across the field.

12.30 km – Arriving at a small tarmac road TURN LEFT onto a narrow path between the houses. Emerging into a field, GO STRAIGHT ON downhill and BEAR RIGHT, on the main path by the sports field. Follow the wooden marker posts over a stream and past Washbrook Farm. This is a former woollen mill and has an interesting old doorway with a coat of arms dated 1691.

13.00 km – Immediately past the farm TURN LEFT onto the gravel track signposted to Haresfield Beacon. GO STRAIGHT ON following the path along a small wooded valley and over a stream. At the wooden gate BEAR LEFT across the field, past the stone milepost and up to the road.

13.70 km – At the small tarmac road TURN RIGHT uphill to the main road. TURN RIGHT and just before the pub, cross the road with care. GO STRAIGHT ON into Rudge Hill Nature Reserve and follow the wooden marker posts for approx 0.75 km. Look out for cowslips and several varieties of orchids in the spring.

14.60 km – Arriving at a main road GO STRAIGHT ON into Maitland Wood and descend to a gravel track (take care here as there is a steep decline). TURN LEFT at the signpost and GO STRAIGHT ON through the ancient beech trees to Stockend wood for approx 1.5 km.

16.20 km – Reaching a small tarmac road, GO STRAIGHT ON, following the Cotswold Way signpost. In 300 m TURN LEFT uphill, off the road on a path signposted to Haresfield Beacon. On the left is an ancient well giving its name to Cliffwell cottages on the right. GO STRAIGHT ON passing a memorial stone to the Civil War siege of Gloucester.

16.60 km – At the tarmac road TURN LEFT uphill, then almost immediately TURN RIGHT past the barn and GO STRAIGHT ON up to Haresfield Beacon and the summit marker.

18.00 km – At the summit, marker TURN LEFT and follow the escarpment edge with panoramic views to the right. Go down some wooden steps before the small car park then GO STRAIGHT ON up to Shortwood viewpoint.

19.40 km – At the viewpoint, marker TURN LEFT and follow the grassy path to the car park.

19.80 km – At the car park TURN RIGHT into Standish Wood and immediately BEAR LEFT as the path splits into three. GO STRAIGHT ON through Standish Wood for approx 2.8 km. Follow the wooden marker posts to Randswick. NB; There are lots of paths in this popular area so be sure to follow the prominent Cotswold Way markers. Standish Wood is an ancient beech wood mentioned in documents as far back as 1297.

22.60 km – Arriving at a small car park GO STRAIGHT ON through the metal gates, with good views of Stroud to the left and the Severn Valley to the right. In 300m where the path divides BEAR LEFT towards the small wood and a stone stile.

23.00 km – Cross the stile and TURN RIGHT down through the wood. GO STRAIGHT ON across the small road and another stone stile, then BEAR LEFT on the path across the open field. 

23.50 km – At the tarmac road TURN RIGHT and go uphill for 200m, then BEAR LEFT over a stone stile. NB; this is not well marked. GO STRAIGHT ON downhill across several fields, through a vineyard to the railway.

24.80 km – Cross the Railway Bridge and GO STRAIGHT ON down to the main road. TURN RIGHT along the main road and follow the footpath to a small roundabout. NOTE: If you wish to go into Stonehouse for dinner before heading to Kings Stanley you can follow the trail on your right - keep the railway tracks to your left till you come out onto Rosedale Avenue, and continue straight on past Stonehouse Railway station and turn left into Queens Road and then follow it onto Bath Road (Main Street of Stonehouse where restaurants are located). Ensure you retrace your steps back to Way once you are ready to continue.

25.20 km – At the roundabout, TURN LEFT down Ryeford Road North, and GO STRAIGHT ON over the Stroudwater Canal to the main road. TURN LEFT on the cycle path and cross the main road with extreme care at the traffic lights. BEAR LEFT on the other side of the road following the cycle path along Ryeford Road South towards Kings Stanley.

25.80 km – Just past Stanley Mill and across the River Frome, TURN LEFT across the road then BEAR RIGHT through a wooden gate. GO STRAIGHT ON across the fields towards Kings Stanley. BEAR RIGHT at the signpost for Kings Stanley and leave the Cotswold Way, crossing the small stream to the road.

26.60 km – Arriving at the road opposite the Old Rectory you have reached the end of your walk.


*** This is the end of our Birdlip to Kings Stanley route. ***


OS Grid
SO 92427 14554
51.829552, -2.111296
51°49'46.4"N 2°06'40.7"W
30U 561240 5742454
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

DISCLAIMER: Please note, the distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the direct routes at the time of our pathfinder walking them (this excludes walking to/from your accommodation to the start/end point, or for example coming off the path for lunch). There may be some slight discrepancies/small diversions that make the distances slightly out compared to your own mapping software (Strava/Garmin/Apple Watch).


Good comfortable boots or walking shoes are recommended. The ground can be quite soft and the paths are well used by walkers and riders. Whilst the terrain is not particularly difficult it can be muddy with some waterlogged stretches after heavy rain. Walking poles are an option if preferred. The British weather is changeable so waterproofs should also be carried just in case.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike/or if you have an older phone, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank as a backup.

There are opportunities to buy food/water today in Painswick, however, ensure you bring enough snacks and fluids with you.

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26.6 km
8:30 h
480 m
668 m
Highest point
272 m
Lowest point
26 m

Weather at the route's trailhead


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