Best views in the Cotswolds Road Trip
Your road trip of epic vistas awaits
Wherever you are in the Cotswolds your surroundings are likely to be pretty special, however, there are a couple of places where the scenery and the views really are quite spectacular. Rising from meadow-strewn valleys to the tip of the escarpment known as the Cotswold Edge, this region lends itself to some truly astonishing panoramas. We’d be the first to say that one of the best ways to see the Cotswolds is on foot, but this road trip takes in some of the best outlooks in the Cotswolds, with only a little walking required and, in some cases, none at all.
This road trip starts in the south and heads northwards, but it can easily be done in reverse. From Coaley Peak and Selsey Common on the southern reaches of the Cotswolds, you’ll travel through the magical Slad Valley, with views unchanged since Laurie Lee’s description in Cider with Rosie. When you reach Painswick, you can drive to within a 10-minute walk of the top of Painswick Beacon. Cleeve Hill is next and at the highest point in the Cotswolds, the views from here are incredible. On a clear day, they stretch to Wales! Broadway Tower and Dover’s Hill, home of the original English Olympic Games, complete our road trip of epic vistas.
Starting from Dursley on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, take the B4066 and you’ll find Coaley Peak. Linger a while and soak in the magnificent views over the Severn Vale to the Forest of Dean and onwards to Wales. From Coaley Peak it’s a short drive to Selsey Common for equally spectacular panoramas.
10 miles / 30-minute drive
Your drive continues northwards skirting through Stroud (home to one of the best farmers markets in the Cotswolds), and on into the delightful Slad Valley. Depicted gloriously in literary prose via Laurie Lee’s iconic works, this is a drive with magical views unchanged by time. Head upwards through the valley into the village of Painswick and the Painswick Beacon. There is a car park a 10-minute walk from the top.
Cleeve Hill & Belas Knap
15 miles / 35-minute drive
The drive from Painswick takes you along Coopers Hill (famed for its cheese rolling… yes cheese rolling!) and a road that quite literally hugs the edge of the escarpment. The views to your left are far-reaching.
You’ll then circle the edge of Regency Cheltenham Spa as you make your way to Cleeve Hill, the highest point in the Cotswolds. Here you’ll find countless footpaths, a flock of sheep, the Neolithic long burrow of Belas Knap and a view which takes in Cheltenham far below, the Malvern Hills, and on a clear day the Black Mountains in Wales. Crickley Hill (owned by the National Trust and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust), is also on your way and well worth a stop. It overlooks the Seven Vale with views to the Brecon Beacons.
18 miles / 45-minute drive
From the highest point in the Cotswolds to the second-highest; Broadway Tower. Designed by Capability Brown more than 200 years ago, this iconic landmark can be seen from miles around. The landscape of 16 surrounding counties (and Wales) is spectacular, even if you choose not to climb the tower. There’s a tea room for refreshments and a short walk signposted around the tower, from where you’ll usually be able to spot the resident herd of red deer. If you have time to explore, we’d suggest following the Cotswold Way footpath down into Broadway (but you will have to walk back up the hill)!, alternatively, take the car and enjoy the hairpin bends of Fish Hill.
3 miles / 5-minute drive
The last but by no means least of our viewpoints is Dover’s Hill. Home of the original English Olympic Games back in 1612, the tradition continues today with the annual Cotswold Olimpicks, which includes various rural events including ‘shin kicking’. This natural amphitheatre offers glorious views over the Vale of Evesham and beyond. If you are visiting in spring, take a wander through the woods at the bottom of the hill which are usually swathed in a stunning carpet of bluebells. From here it’s just a short drive into Chipping Campden.