Woodland camping in Gloucestershire

Eerily beautiful forests and rippling hills offer outdoor adventure in spades.

99% (129 reviews)
99% (129 reviews)

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Woodland camping in Gloucestershire guide

Overview

Whether you’re hiking through woodlands, cycling between Cotswold-stone villages, wandering around an ancient arboretum, or settling in for a farm-fresh countryside picnic, Gloucestershire is an outdoors delight. The 790-square-mile Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of England’s most rewarding and expansive walking areas, with miles of protected paths, including the 102-mile Cotswold Way (a favourite of long-distance walkers). To the west, on the Welsh border, the isolated Forest of Dean bursts with wildlife and water activity. Spring and autumn are perfect for exploring nature without summer-season crowds, though Gloucestershire charms visitors even in winter.

Where to go

Northern Cotswolds

The honey-stone, thatch-roof villages of the northern Cotswolds are some of England’s most beautiful, from historical Stow-on-the-Wold to creative, antiques-filled Broadway and Chipping Campden. Hike along the Cotswold Way, surrounded by green countryside, with stops at wool-trade churches, ancient almshouses, dramatic lookouts (such as 18th-century Broadway Tower) and former coaching inns (many now converted into lively pubs and restaurants). There’s plenty of other outdoor fun, too—especially horse riding and cycling. Camping, glamping and caravan sites are scattered around, and there are wonderful farmers’ markets and local delis for stocking up on fresh produce.

Southern Cotswolds

Meandering footpaths, thatched cottages, and distinctive Gothic churches set the scene in the less-touristy southern half of Gloucestershire’s Cotswolds. Here campers can wander between golden-stone villages such as Painswick (don’t miss the Rococo Garden), Northleach (an underappreciated highlight), and Bibury (one of the Cotswolds’ dreamiest), and dive into local history in Cirencester, Uley, Stroud, and beyond. Outdoors, it’s all about walks through the southwestern Cotswolds AONB and Westonbirt Arboretum, along with cycling, horse riding, birdwatching, and wild swimming. Places to set up camp range from farm meadows to lakeside huts.

Forest of Dean

Bordering Wales in far-west Gloucestershire (and parts of Herefordshire), between the Severn and Wye rivers, the mysterious Forest of Dean is a 42-square-mile natural wonderland packed with adventure. Find quiet trails through England’s oldest oak forests (whose secluded beauty inspired JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien); kayaking, paddle-boarding, and birdwatching from the riverside village of Symonds Yat; plus caving, rock-climbing, abseiling, and rafting. The best of the many caravanning, camping, and glamping sites overlook the rushing Wye.

Cheltenham, Gloucester & Around

Elegant Cheltenham, Gloucestershire’s main town, was once an important 18th-century spa destination and still flaunts its Regency architecture and landscaped gardens, while the county capital Gloucester is home to an unmissable Perpendicular Gothic cathedral (where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed). The surrounding countryside is dotted with ideal stops for campers, from holiday parks to fruit farms to rural pubs.

Top counties near Gloucestershire

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