Which horseback riding trails in the Cotswolds are suitable for beginners?

11 June 2024

The Cotswolds, known for its rolling hills, quaint villages, and picturesque scenery, is also home to some of the best horse riding trails in the UK. If you're new to horseback riding, you might be wondering which trails are suitable for beginners. This article aims to guide you through the best trails in the Cotswolds that are well-suited for newcomers to the world of horseback riding.

1. The Cotswold Way National Trail

The Cotswold Way National Trail is one of the longest walking and horse riding trails in the Cotswolds, spanning over 100 miles from Chipping Campden to the historical city of Bath. But don't be daunted by the distance. You can easily break this down into manageable sections for day rides.

The trail is well-marked and well-maintained, making it an ideal starting point for beginners. Hiking along the trail is also a popular activity, and the shared use of the trail helps to create a friendly and inclusive environment. Accommodations such as hotels and B&Bs are readily available along the route, making it convenient for multi-day trips.

2. The Ridgeway National Trail

The Ridgeway National Trail is another excellent choice for beginners. It extends for 87 miles, but like Cotswold Way, you can choose to tackle it in sections. One of the oldest roads in Britain, this trail offers a unique blend of history and nature.

The trail is well-signposted, reducing the chances of getting lost. The terrain varies, providing an excellent opportunity to gradually increase your riding skills. The Ridgeway is also very popular among walkers, providing a sense of community and camaraderie along the route.

3. The Winchcombe Way

The Winchcombe Way is a circular trail that covers 42 miles, making it a more manageable option for beginners. The trail takes you through some of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, giving you a taste of the region's typical rural charm.

This trail is well-marked, and the terrain is relatively flat, making it perfect for beginners. While it's not as long as the other trails, it provides a good introduction to horseback riding in the Cotswolds. The nearby town of Winchcombe offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels and guesthouses, so you can take your time and enjoy the trail at your own pace.

4. Oxfordshire Way

A 65 miles trail that connects the Cotswolds to the Chilterns, the Oxfordshire Way is another great option for beginners. The trail is clearly waymarked, and the terrain is relatively easy, featuring a mixture of open fields, woodlands, and quiet country lanes.

Despite being less known than the other trails, the Oxfordshire Way offers an equally stunning landscape, taking you through charming villages, crossing ancient woodlands, and offering breathtaking views over the countryside. It is an ideal choice for those looking to combine their horse riding experience with a taste of the local culture and history.

5. The Heart of England Way

At 100 miles long, the Heart of England Way might seem like a challenge, but its well-signposted route and easy terrain make it suitable for beginners. Starting from Milford in Staffordshire and winding its way to Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds, this trail offers a varied landscape.

Again, accommodation is plentiful along the route, so should you wish to stretch your journey over several days, you'll have no trouble finding a comfortable place to rest at night. This trail is also popular with walkers, adding to the sociable atmosphere and making it a lovely option for your first foray into horseback trail riding.

The Cotswolds offers a multitude of trails suitable for beginners. Each trail has its unique charm, with stunning views, friendly walkers, and welcoming accommodation. So saddle up and enjoy the beauty of the Cotswolds at your own pace. After all, horseback riding is not just about the destination; it's about the journey.

6. The Macmillan Way

The Macmillan Way is a 290-mile cross country trail that begins at Boston in Lincolnshire and concludes at Abbotsbury in Dorset. A good part of the trail traverses through the Cotswolds and thus provides an opportunity for beginners to try out horse riding.

The Cotswold section of the trail includes beautiful sights like the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh and the historical town of Chipping Campden. An interesting feature of this route is the honey-coloured limestone, characteristic of the Cotswold architecture, that you'll see in the quaint villages along the route.

Despite its long distance, beginners can start with shorter sections of the Macmillan Way. The terrain varies but isn't too challenging, and the trail is clearly waymarked. The sight of other walkers and riders on the trail will provide a sense of camaraderie and community.

7. The Gloucestershire Way

The Gloucestershire Way is a 100-mile trail that starts from Chepstow and ends in Tewkesbury. This trail takes you through the heart of the Cotswolds, offering beautiful views of the countryside and an opportunity to visit historical landmarks such as Belas Knap.

This trail isn't just for the horse riding enthusiasts, but also for those with an interest in history, as it passes by ancient woodlands and archaeological sites. The trail is well marked and easy to navigate, making it suitable for beginners. Accommodation options, including cosy bed and breakfast establishments, are scattered along the route, providing convenient resting points for multi-day trips.


Horse riding in the Cotswolds offers more than just a fun ride. It is an opportunity to appreciate the area's natural beauty and rich history. Whether it's the ancient woodlands you cross on the Oxfordshire Way, the historical city of Chipping Campden you visit on the Cotswold Way, or the honey-coloured villages you see on the Macmillan Way, each trail offers a unique experience.

Beginners can choose from a variety of trails, each accommodating to novice riders, providing a safe and enjoyable environment to learn and practice horse riding. Whether you plan to spend a few days and nights on the trail or just a day, the Cotswolds welcomes you with open arms.

And remember, as members of the Cotswold Association, we encourage you to respect the trails, ensuring they remain beautiful and accessible for all. So, strap on your helmet, saddle up, and let your Cotswold walks on horseback begin. After all, as the Hall of Fame horse rider Winston Churchill once said, "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle."

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