Cotswold Villages: exploring Chipping Campden

by Jan

Wondering what the best things to do in Chipping Campden are?  We can help!

We chose Chipping Campden as our base for exploring the Cotswolds.  During this time, we discovered all the best attractions, things to see, and places to eat in Chipping Campden.  Plus, we had day trips out every day to explore the local Cotswold villages and attractions.

Chipping Campden is a small market town in Gloucestershire in the north of the Cotswolds.  With its vast collection of historic buildings, it’s one of the most beautiful towns in the Cotswolds and attracts many visitors.  It’s an ideal hub for visiting nearby Cotswold villages and attractions.  Chipping Campden is also the gateway to the Cotswold Way, so is a magnet for hikers and nature-lovers.

In our guide we share the best reasons to visit Chipping Campden and share the top things to do and see.

Read more:  Our 5-day itinerary in the Cotswolds

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The best things to do in Chipping Campden

Take a stroll along the High Street

Chipping Campden High Street, Cotswolds, UK

To start your visit to Chipping Campden, take a stroll down the long, wide High Street.

It’s an elegant High Street which is full of character and historic buildings.  Like many Cotswold villages, Chipping Campden has completely retained its traditional charm and remains unspoilt by modernity.  In fact, many of the buildings are so old they date back to the 14th century.

Chipping Campden owes its wealth to the lucrative wool trade in the late medieval period and the prominent wool traders who invested here.  Today, you can see lots of honey-coloured historic buildings.  Plus, you’ll also find a great choice of quaint independent shops, cosy cafés, and galleries.

Also, keep your eye out for the Fillet and Bone delicatessen, the Cotswold Cheese company and the intriguing emporium, Frankie Doodle.

Visit the Market Hall

Chipping Campden, Market Hall, Cotswold, UK

Now, one of the most iconic landmarks in Chipping Campden High Street is the 17th century Market Hall.

A wealthy merchant, Sir Baptist Hicks, built this building as a shelter for farmers coming to market.  He left the arched sides open to provide light and access to the stalls.  The Market Hall is a Grade-I listed building and has been owned by the National Trust, since an unsuccessful attempt by an American to buy it in the 1940s.

Nowadays , the Market Hall is still in regular use as a market place.  However, it was empty when we visited, so we could wander freely inside.

Hike the Cotswold Way

Dovers Hill, Chipping Campden, Cotswold, UK

If you enjoy hiking, one of the best reasons to visit Chipping Campden is for the Cotswold Way.  This is a National Trail that runs the length of the Cotswolds to the historic city of Bath.

The Cotswold Way is 102 miles (164 km) in total and passes though many of the best Cotswold villages, including Dursley and Painswick.

Near to the Market Hall you’ll find the official stone marking the start of this long-distance trail.  For some people, it is also the end, as you could start in Bath and walk up from the South.  You’ll see this from the inscription “The Cotswold Way:  the beginning and the end“.

Take a walk up Dover's Hill

Dover Hill, Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, UK

Overall, it takes about 4-7 days to complete the Cotswold Way.  However, if that’s too far, you could just walk sections of the trail.

One of the most popular walks in Chipping Campden is up Dover’s Hill.  This is the first stretch of the Cotswold Way, which leads to the Broadway Tower, in the nearby village of Broadway.  Broadway Tower sits atop Beacon Hill and is the second highest point in the Cotswolds.  This stretch of the walk is about 6 miles (9.6 km) and can be quite hilly.

There’s a National Trust car park on Dover Hill for those who can’t do the steep ascent to the top.  The postcode is WR12 7LB.

Dover-Hill-Views, Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, UK

To start the walk up Dover’s Hill, take a right at St Catherine’s Church, then follow the path leading up between some fields.  At the top of Dover’s Hill, you’ll get breathtaking views over the Vale of Evesham.  It’s a superb location for a picnic or just rolling down the hill!

Afterwards, retrace your steps down the hill back to Chipping Campden High Street.  This out and back walk is about 5km in total.  We returned several times, as the kids thought it was fun!

Alternatively, you can do a short, circular walk on to the escarpment and around the back of the hill in to Lynches Woods. April is a great time to visit, as the woodland floor has a carpet of bluebells.

Watch the Cotswold Olympick Games

As well as being the first hill on the Cotswold Way, Dover’s Hill is also host to the annual Olympick Games.  Apparently, Cotswold locals have been celebrating the alternative games here for over four hundred years.

The event sounds like a whole lot of fun, with traditional events that include shin kicking, tug o’war and relay races with wheelbarrows and dustbins!

The Cotswold Olympicks is most certainly one of the most unique things to see in Chipping Campden.  This year the shin-kicking championships take place on 31st May.

Admire Grevel House

Grevel House, Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, UK

One of the best things to do in Chipping Campden is enjoy all the historic houses.  The High Street is renowned for its stunning architecture, which has evolved with time.  It’s bursting with honey-coloured properties that date back hundreds of years.

The most remarkable property in Chipping Campden is Grevel House.  Not only is it the most beautiful (in my humble opinion!), but it’s the oldest house in town.

Built in 1380, this lovely house was originally home to wealthy wool merchant, William Grevel.  It is notable as being one of the first houses to have chimneys, instead of holes in the roof.

The original architecture has stood the test of time and Grevel House still looks exquisite today.  With distinctive features such as gargoyles, a sundial, and a large wooden doorway it really caught my attention, and we went back for several visits.

Another prominent house is Woolstapler’s Hall.  This 14th century stone building is where the wool merchants would grade the fleece of local Cotswold sheep.

Other historic buildings in Chipping Campden to keep a look out for are the Old Grammar School and County Police Station.

See the Almshouses

Almshouses, Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, UK

One of the best historic attractions in Chipping Campden is the row of almshouses in Church Street.  These are at the opposite end of the town, near St James’ Church.

They built the almshouses in 1612 to provide accommodation for twelve poor people in the village.  The benefactor was Sir Baptist Hicks, who’d provided the Market Hall for Chipping Campden.

Apparently, the houses are still occupied today, by retirees with a connection to Chipping Campden.  History-lovers will also notice the sunken carthorse wash in front of the terrace.

Find old Campden House

Old Campden House, Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, UK

Between the almshouses and church are some double gates.  We had to peer through to see one of an impressive pair of Jacobean banqueting houses in a field.  These are all that remain of Old Campden House built by Baptist Hicks in 1613.  It was a very grand house until Royalists burnt it to the ground 30 years later in the Civil War.

If you are looking for unique holiday accommodation in Chipping Campden, you can now rent the banqueting houses.

Explore Ernest Wilson Memorial Gardens

As you wander along the High Street, you’ll stumble upon the Ernest Wilson Gardens.  This hidden gem is a small, neat garden, providing a tranquil spot for some reflection time.  The gardens are a tribute to Ernest Henry “Chinese” Wilson, one of the world’s greatest plant hunters from the 19th Century.

Ernest was born in Chipping Campden and worked at some of the best botanical gardens in the UK before heading to China to collect rare plants.  This was a risky business at the time, but he later became one of the world’s most acclaimed botanists.

Today, the gardens provide a calm oasis away from the High Street.  It’s a pretty, relaxing space with a variety of plants and shrubs.  Admission is free, but there’s a donation box to help with the upkeep.

Places to stay in Chipping Campden

There are many beautiful places to stay in and around Chipping Campden.

Eight Bells Inn

If you are looking for a central hotel, you can’t find a better location than that of the Eight Bells Inn.  This 14th century inn is a traditional property with a selection of individual guest rooms.

Cotswold House Hotel & Spa

Another traditional accommodation in the heart of Chipping Campden is the Cotswold House Hotel and Spa.  This luxury hotel is in the centre of town and offers a choice of garden cottages and suites, with a choice of hot tubs and limestone baths.

Vine Cottage

If you prefer self-catering accommodation, Vine Cottage is a quaint cottage for two in the heart of town.  This 1-bedroom holiday home is well furnished and has a garden and terrace.

Campden Mews

Another stunning accommodation with amazing décor is Campden Mews, a 2-bedroom self-catering accommodation in the centre.

Places to eat in Chipping Campden

There’s plenty of places to eat to suit all budgets in Chipping Campden.

For lunch you could try the Eight Bells Inn,  which serves homemade food in the terrace area behind the pub.  Alternatively for afternoon tea or homemade cake, The Bantam Tea Rooms is a great choice.

Michael’s Mediterranean Restaurant offers traditional and Mediterranean cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients.  For fine dining in Chipping Campden, take a look at The Fig, the restaurant at the Cotswold House Hotel.

Things to do near Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden is in easy driving distance of most of the attractions in the north of the Cotswolds.  Some of the highlights for us were Bourton-on-the Water, Broadway, and Batsford Arboretum.  If you are travelling with children, click here for our guide to the best things to do in the Cotswolds with kids.

Below are the three closest attractions:-

Broadway and Broadway Tower

Sunset at Broadway Tower, Broadway, Cotswolds, UK

One of the best places to visit near Chipping Campden is the nearby village of Broadway. It is less than 5 miles and only takes 10 minutes by car.  Of course, you could walk on the Cotswolds Way, but this would take far longer.

One of the best things to do in Broadway is a walk to the iconic Broadway Tower.  You’ll find a National Trust café at the top with outside seating and impressive views of the countryside.  You’ll also see red deer behind the visitor centre.

Hidcote Manor & Gardens

Another of the top attractions in the Cotswolds near Chipping Campden is Hidcote Manor & Gardens.  Just 5 miles to the north of Chipping Campden, this is an Arts and Crafts garden owned by the National Trust.

Hidcote Manor is only a stone’s throw from Kifsgate Gardens, so if you enjoy gardens, you could pay a visit to both.

Snowshill Manor & Garden

Snowshill Village Houses, Snowshill, Cotswold, UK

One of the prettiest places to visit near Chipping Campden is the chocolate box village of Snowshill.  This is a tiny, but delightful place, where you’ll find Snowshill Manor, the home of eccentric Charles Wade.  He bought the 16th Century manor to house his eclectic collection of treasures and possessions.

Today the manor house and its gardens are owned by the National Trust and open to the public.

Getting to Chipping Campden

By car

Chipping Campden is in the north of the Cotswolds. The easiest way to get there is by car.  The drive from London takes just over 2 hours on the M40.

By public transport

The nearest train station with buses to Chipping Campden is Moreton-in-Marsh.

Regular, direct trains run from London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh and take about 1.5 hours.  From here take the line 2 bus to Chipping Campden.

London to Chipping Campden bus services, operated by National Express, depart from Victoria Coach Station.

Have you been to Chipping Campden?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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Avatar for Jan
Bea Adventurous 15th March 2022 - 7:10 pm

Such a brilliant article! I love love loveeee this town!
The Olympik games here are so special right!?

Thank you for all the amazing info, regarding to things to do, where to eat and how to get there etc!!

Avatar for Jan
Jan 16th March 2022 - 10:48 am

We loved it too. Such a great base for a visit to the Cotswolds.


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