Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle

A rewarding walk above a thriving Cotswold market town and the burial place of Henry's sixth queen – Catherine Parr.




4 miles (6.4kms)

657ft (173m)
1hr 45min

About the walk

At the end of a long drive just outside Winchcombe is a largely 16th-century mansion called Sudeley Castle. The first castle was built here in 1140, and fragments dating from its earlier days are still much in evidence. Originally little more than a fortified manor house, by the mid-15th century it had acquired a keep and several courtyards. It became a royal castle after the Wars of the Roses, and was later given to Thomas Seymour, Edward VI’s Lord High Admiral. Seymour lived at Sudeley with his wife, Catherine Parr – he became her fourth husband. Seymour was executed for treason in 1549. Consequently, the castle passed to Catherine’s brother, William, but he was stripped of the title and lands after becoming involved in the plot to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Sudeley Castle was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War. It was disarmed by the Parliamentarians, and left to decay until its purchase by the wealthy Dent brothers in 1863.

Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, is buried in Sudeley’s chapel. She was born in 1512 into an influential northern family and educated in Henry’s court. She was first married at the age of nine, but widowed six years later. When her second husband, Lord Latimer, died in 1543, Catherine was left one of the wealthiest and best-connected women in England, and an obvious choice of wife for Henry. After the king’s death in 1547, Catherine quickly married Seymour and moved to Sudeley, where the future Queen Elizabeth was often her companion. Catherine died following childbirth in 1548.

Anglo-Saxon times Winchcombe was a seat of the Mercian kings and the capital of Winchcombshire, until the shire’s incorporation into Gloucestershire in the 11th century. It became a place of pilgrimage due to the presence of an abbey established in ad 798 and dedicated to St Kenelm, son of its founder, King Kenulf. The abbey was razed in the Dissolution, but the town’s parish church survived and is a fine example of a ‘wool church’, financed from the medieval wool trade. The amusing gargoyles that decorate its exterior are particularly interesting, and are said to be modelled on real local people.

Walk directions

From the corner of the car park follow the town centre sign along Cowl Lane. At the end turn left, then right before The White Hart Inn, down Castle Street. Where it levels out, cross a river bridge, and after about 50yds (46m) bear right to leave the road near Sudeley Castle Country Cottages and ascend to a kissing gate. Follow the path through the middle of a long field to another kissing gate. At a track, with the castle visitor centre ahead, turn right for 50 paces, then left through a gate.

Walk between fences, under a bridge of a children’s play fort, to a kissing gate. Follow the left fence past Sudeley Castle, then follow guide posts across its parkland. Go through a kissing gate in the very far corner, turn left, and after 25 paces go through another gate and walk alongside the left-hand field boundary, then right at the corner alongside a fence. In 100yds (91m), go left through a gate and walk uphill beside hedging towards a cottage.

Through a gate turn left onto a lane and follow this to a junction. Turn left and, after about 50 paces, just before Sudeley Hill Farm, turn right and go through a gate. Head slightly left uphill and through a kissing gate. Cross the middle of the next field, then bear to the left of a cottage to another gate.

Beyond this you will see a small church-like building in a fenced enclosure, which houses St Kenelm’s Well. Pass to the left of this along a track. Cross a stream and go through a gate, and climb slightly right towards a gate at the right end of woodland.

At a woodland fence corner turn left through a kissing gate, just short of the field gate, and go alongside a small fenced field. Beyond this the path drops fairly close to the woods on your right, and then curves left near the end to two kissing gates. Continue alongside the wood, then a line of trees, to a gate in the far corner.

Descend slightly right towards Winchcombe, heading to the furthest corner. Via a gate descend, with a fence on your right. At the fence corner continue slightly right across the field. Walk through the hedge into the next field and continue slightly left towards a gate. Cross the field corner to a stile and a footbridge. Go slightly left in the next field, heading for the gate to the right of a cottage. Through the gate turn right onto a lane, passing a heavily buttressed kitchen garden wall on your left.

After about 100yds (91m), turn left through a kissing gate and head across the field towards Winchcombe church tower. Then veer left before the river valley bottom to a kissing gate by a stone cottage. Follow this path to Castle Street and turn right over the river bridge and back into the town centre.

Additional information

Fields and lanes, many stiles

Woodland, hills and town

On lead throughout due to livestock

OS Explorer OL45 The Cotswolds

Back Lane pay-and-display car park

At car park

Been on this walk?

Send us photos or a comment about this route.

Know a good walk?

Share your route with us.


Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

Find out more

About the area

Discover Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire is home to a variety of landscapes. The Cotswolds, a region of gentle hills, valleys and gem-like villages, roll through the county. To their west is the Severn Plain, watered by Britain’s longest river, and characterised by orchards and farms marked out by hedgerows that blaze with mayflower in the spring, and beyond the Severn are the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley.

Throughout the county you are never far away from the past. Neolithic burial chambers are widespread, and so too are the remains of Roman villas, many of which retain the fine mosaic work produced by Cirencester workshops. There are several examples of Saxon building, while in the Stroud valleys abandoned mills and canals are the mark left by the Industrial Revolution. Gloucestershire has always been known for its abbeys, but most of them have disappeared or lie in ruins. However, few counties can equal the churches that remain here. These are many and diverse, from the ‘wool’ churches in Chipping Campden and Northleach, to the cathedral at Gloucester, the abbey church at Tewkesbury or remote St Mary’s, standing alone near Dymock.


Why choose Rated Trips?

Your trusted guide to rated places across the UK
icon example
The best coverage

Discover more than 15,000 professionally rated places to stay, eat and visit from across the UK and Ireland.

icon example
Quality assured

Choose a place to stay safe in the knowledge that it has been expertly assessed by trained assessors.

icon example
Plan your next trip

Search by location or the type of place you're visiting to find your next ideal holiday experience.

icon example
Travel inspiration

Read our articles, city guides and recommended things to do for inspiration. We're here to help you explore the UK.