The Gloucestershire Way - Why Go?
If you're looking for an introduction to the natural beauty and ancient history of Southwest England, they don't come much better than this. The Gloucestershire Way runs from the Westerly border of the county - the Welsh town of Chepstow - to the historic town of Tewkesbury, on the river Severn in the north. Winding through ancient forest, rolling hills, and steep valleys, it can be divided up into distinct sections, or if you're feeling brave, tackled as one over the course of several days. Either way, the Gloucestershire Way is undoubtedly one of the best walks near Bristol.
The Gloucestershire Way - What to Expect
The Gloucestershire Way can be divided into three distinct sections - the area of the Forest of Dean, the section across the Severn Vale and Gloucester itself, and the final stretch across the Cotswolds. Each has its own challenges.
If you're looking to tackle shorter sections, you can divide the trail up into shorter stages of 19 - 20km, each of which is doable as a day trip from Bristol. You'll need the normal walking gear - a decent pair of lightweight hiking boots and a waterproof jacket - but if you're an experienced hiker, you shouldn't find it too tricky.
If you're wanting to take on the whole thing, we'd advise booking accommodation along the route. There are some campsites, but they're not as regular as you might think, and wild camping - as in all of the UK - is illegal unless you've called ahead and got the landowner's permission.
The Gloucestershire Way - The Route, Part 1
160km / 8 - 9 days
The route starts in the Welsh border town of Chepstow, about a 30 minute drive outside of Bristol. From Chepstow Castle, you head northwards on the Wye Valley Walk, plunging you straight into nature and offering you stunning views of the surrounding countryside right from the get go.
The route winds through the ancient forest of Dean, and runs right along the border of England and Wales, before turning eastwards towards Gloucester over the Severn Vale as the river narrows. The City of Gloucester itself is well worth a visit, and if you're doing this as a multi-day trek we'd definitely recommend spending a night here. The 11th Century Cathedral is a particular highlight.
The Gloucestershire Way - The Route, Part 2
Heading out eastwards from the city, the trail tacks away from the River Severn and winds its way up into the Cotswolds. Climbing up the Cotswolds Escarpment through the village of Little Shurdington, it meanders gently north eastwards until you reach the picturesque town of Burton on the Water, starting point for many of the best Cotswold walks.
You'll find a detailed description of the walk from Burton on the Water to Stow on the Wold here (albeit in reverse). Having completed this picturesque section, the trail turns westwards again, passing Sudely Castle on its way back to the River Severn, and the historic abbey town of Tewskesbury.
For more walking ideas, check out our full rundown of the best walks near Bristol.