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Winchcombe to Charlton Kings

Hiking route · Cotswold
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  • Route out of Winchcombe
    Route out of Winchcombe
    Photo: Iain Grant, Macs Adventure

Leaving Winchcombe, you gradually ascend to the long barrow of Belas Knap. From here, a steep descent takes you down to Postlip Hall before a long and steady climb up to Cleeve Common and the eventual summit of Cleeve Hill. From the summit, the path follows the edge of the Cotswolds down to Prestbury Hill Nature Reserve. 

Distance 18.8 km
6:00 h
447 m
452 m
316 m
85 m

A more demanding walking day but historically an exciting one from Winchcombe, passing Sudeley Castle in the distance and the Neolithic long barrow of Belas Knap. From here, you ascend onto Cleeve Common with panoramic views over the Cheltenham countryside. Follow the way as it takes you to the summit of Cleeve Hill, the highest point on the Cotswold Way! From the summit, you then follow the western edge of the Cotswold escarpment high above the famous settlement of Cheltenham eventually passing through an idyllic nature reserve, scenic woodland and agricultural land. Finally, a gradual descent leads through the classic Cotswold countryside to the small town of Charlton Kings.

Author’s recommendation

Cleeve Hill is the highest point on the whole of the Cotswold Way, and panoramic views extend over Cheltenham and the surrounding area. The Prestbury Hill Nature Reserve is a site of special scientific interest, particularly for its butterflies and rare plants.

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Macs Adventure
Update: August 30, 2022
Highest point
316 m
Lowest point
85 m

Track types

Dirt road 2.78%Forested/wild trail 7.12%Path 36.81%Unknown 53.27%
Dirt road
0.5 km
Forested/wild trail
1.3 km
6.9 km
10 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Food Fanatics Winchcombe
Winchcombe Museum
Sudeley Castle
Belas Knap
Cleeve Hill Golf Club
Cleeve Hill
Prestbury Hill Nature Reserve
The London Inn
The Royal
General Food & Drink Supplies - Charlton Kings

Safety information


Traffic should not be a problem today as the route out of Winchcombe is relatively quiet. There are a few climbs and one steep descent which might be tricky during or after wet weather. Care is needed particularly if you are tiring.

When walking off the summit of Cleeve Hill and along the edge of the escarpment take care, especially in strong winds or poor visibility. This section is fairly straightforward with no particular hazards.

The Cotswold Way is well marked so navigation should be easy. 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 cafe stops.  Simply click the icons on the map for more information as you walk. 


Food and Drink

Winchcombe is a large Cotswold town with a full range of facilities. There are a number of shops, small supermarkets, cafes and pubs where you can stock up with food and drink. There is also a tourist information office, a post office and a pharmacy in the town. A cash machine is available in the Co-op supermarket during opening hours, or an external machine can be found further down North Street at the larger supermarket on the edge of town. There are no facilities on this walk so make sure to carry what you need. Cleeve Hill Golf Club is open to non-members for refreshments but this is near the very end of the walk.


Packed lunch today is highly recommended. There is a golf course and pub around Cleeve Hill but we would advise you not to rely on these options in case they are not open. We recommend going to Food Fanatics in Winchcombe before you set off and grab some picnic food for the day.

Post walk Drinks

London Inn in Charlton Kings


Public Transport

The 606 Bus towards Cheltenham runs from Winchcombe. You can then either walk or take another bus (B service by Stagecoach) to Charlton Kings. Bus timetables change year on year and can be seasonal. Be sure to check  for the 606 services (the local operator who runs this service) for up-to-date timetables.

Stagecoach W service also runs Winchcombe to Cheltenham and again you can either walk or get the connecting Stagecoach B service to Charlton Kings.

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.

There are also useful websites to find when the next bus is due at or simply have a quick google search.


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


War Memorial Cross, Winchcombe (93 m)
OS Grid
SP 02432 28239
51.952644, -1.966010
51°57'09.5"N 1°57'57.6"W
30U 571057 5756276


Post box and signpost, Charlton Kings

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 Winchcombe to Charlton Kings. Whilst, the Cotswolds are waymarked they 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 with your back to the War Memorial Cross and facing Dent Almshouses, TURN RIGHT along the main street, then in 20m TURN LEFT down Vineyard Street and over the river.

0.20 km – Just over the river bridge, TURN RIGHT through the metal gate and onto the footpath signposted Cotswold Way. GO STRAIGHT ON along a well-defined path towards the power cables in the distance.

0.80 km – At the tarmac road, TURN LEFT and GO STRAIGHT ON for approx 400 m. At the road sign TURN RIGHT through the metal gate and BEAR LEFT up the tarmac drive signposted to Belas Knap. GO STRAIGHT ON past the cricket pitch.

1.60 km – At the wooden signpost BEAR LEFT, through the wooden gate and GO STRAIGHT ON up the grassy slope, following the wooden marker posts. Sudeley Castle can just be glimpsed through the trees to the left.

2.20 km – At the tarmac road junction, GO STRAIGHT ON up the footpath through the wood, parallel to the road.

2.40 km – At a metal gate TURN RIGHT and GO STRAIGHT ON around the edge of the field. There are good views emerging to the right.

2.90 km – At the top of the slope BEAR LEFT through the metal gate and GO STRAIGHT ON to Belas Knap Neolithic Long Barrow.

3.40 km – Arriving at the long barrow TURN RIGHT, over the stone stiles and GO STRAIGHT ON towards the power cables. (However, you should take some time to look around the burial chamber).

4.1 km – At the end of the field TURN LEFT onto the gravel track signposted Cotswold Way and GO STRAIGHT ON for approx 0.5 km

4.60 km - At the signpost TURN RIGHT off the track and through the metal gate. GO STRAIGHT ON over the field and under the power cables.

4.90 km – At the end of the field go through a metal gate and GO STRAIGHT ON descending steeply through a wood. At the wooden gate at the bottom of the hill GO STRAIGHT ON along the main path. (NB; do not turn left).

6.10 km – Just past a small stable TURN LEFT through a wooden gate onto a path signposted Cotswold Way. GO STRAIGHT ON gradually descending down through the trees.

6.60 km – At the wooden bridge over the stream, GO STRAIGHT ON up the well-defined path, past the farm buildings and towards Postlip Hall.

7.30 km – Just before the river TURN LEFT, through the gate and GO STRAIGHT ON past Postlip Hall. Follow the large stone wall to your right, through the stables and past the wayside spring.

7.80 km – At the wooden gate GO STRAIGHT ON out onto Cleeve Common and follow the prominent sandy path and wooden marker posts up the hill. This long steady climb is approx 1.3 km with the golf course to the left and panoramic views to the right.

9.10 km – Just after the small car park, BEAR LEFT by the Golf Club House (open to non-members for refreshments) and GO STRAIGHT ON up the hill. Follow the wooden marker posts to the summit with splendid views all around.

10.1 km – Arriving at the triangulation pillar summit marker take some time to enjoy the views! Once you are ready to leave - Standing By the triangulation pillar summit marker and with your back to the viewpoint, GO STRAIGHT ON over the golf course following the wooden post markers.

(NB; there is a direction arrow on the side of the triangulation pillar to show the way). Follow the edge of the steep escarpment on your right with panoramic views over Cheltenham.

11.00 km – Just through some hill fort ramparts and by a wooden seat, GO STRAIGHT ON, again following the edge of the steep slope and the wooden marker posts to a metal gate.

11.50 km – Go through the metal gate off the common and GO STRAIGHT ON following the wooden marker posts. The path traverses the escarpment gradually descending with the transmitter masts visible on the ridge to the left.

12.10 km – Just through a wooden gate and by Prestbury Nature Reserve, TURN LEFT and GO STRAIGHT ON slightly uphill. In 50 m where the path forks, BEAR RIGHT following the marker sign. Go through the wooden gate into Prestbury Nature Reserve and GO STRAIGHT ON.

12.70 km – At a path, junction GO STRAIGHT ON, following the waymarked sign up through a narrow valley. There are good views as you emerge onto the common again.

13.40 km – At the edge of the Nature Reserve cross the wooden style and GO STRAIGHT ON.

13.80 km – Arriving at a path junction TURN LEFT following the Cotswold Way signpost, then in 50 metres BEAR RIGHT, following the wooden marker posts by the power cables.

14.30 km – Emerging through a gate onto a tarmac lane, TURN LEFT through a metal gate and GO STRAIGHT ON along the path signposted to Dowdeswell.

14.60 km – At a tarmac road TURN LEFT and GO STRAIGHT ON for approx 300 m, then TURN RIGHT at the road junction following the sign for the Cotswold Way.

15.70 km – As the road bends to the left, BEAR RIGHT through the metal gate and GO STRAIGHT ON to reach another tarmac road.

16.50 km – At the tarmac road cross over and GO STRAIGHT ON along the opposite signposted path.

16.90 km – At a wooden gate TURN RIGHT under the power cables and leaving the Cotswold Way and past the farm.

17.20 km – Emerging through a metal gate, GO STRAIGHT ON through another gate and BEAR RIGHT around the edge of the field.

17.50 km – Where the path divides BEAR RIGHT over the wooden stile then in 100 m  BEAR RIGHT through a wooden gate and GO STRAIGHT ON to a gate.

17.90 km – TURN RIGHT through the gate and GO STRAIGHT ON past the stables, through some metal gates and onto a track. Then in 100 metres BEAR RIGHT onto the footpath through a metal gate and descend towards Charlton Kings.

18.50 km – At a bend in the path, BEAR LEFT onto a smaller less distinct path. GO STRAIGHT ON with the hedge to your left and aim for a large white-topped post by a metal gate.

18.70 km – Go through the metal gate and GO STRAIGHT ON over the stream and up between the houses to a tarmac road. GO STRAIGHT ON up Chase Avenue to reach the main road in Charlton Kings.

18.80 km – Arriving at the main road, red post box and signpost back to Colgate Farm you have reached the end of your walk.

Due to a lack of accommodation in Charlton Kings, you may be overnighting in Cheltenham instead. If you are booked to stay in Cheltenham an Included taxi transfer will collect you from the London Inn (centrally located along London Road, not too far from the end of the walk) and will take you to your overnight accommodation in Cheltenham.


*** This is the end of our Winchcombe to Charlton Kings route. ***


OS Grid
SP 02432 28239
51.952644, -1.966010
51°57'09.5"N 1°57'57.6"W
30U 571057 5756276
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.

This walk is isolated with a single opportunity to buy refreshments (Cleeve Hill Golf Course) - this is not guaranteed so be sure to bring enough with you.

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18.8 km
6:00 h
447 m
452 m
Highest point
316 m
Lowest point
85 m


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