Shakespeare’s Way - North to South

A walking holiday along Shakespeare’s Way from Stratford-upon-Avon in the North to London in the South
Shakespeare’s Way Map

click on the map to enlarge

We also offer these routes from South to North. For more information on walking these routes in the opposite direction, click here.

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of all time. His 37 plays are marked by extraordinary poetry, a highly inventive use of the English language, superb plots and vivid insights into human nature - characteristics that have ensured their popularity over the centuries.

Shakespeare's Way follows the route that the poet may have taken on his journeys between his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, where his wife Anne Hathaway and his children lived and the Globe Theatre in London , where most of his plays were first performed to public acclaim. Passing through the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds and the Chilterns before following the River Thames into the heart of London , the route links some of England 's greatest attractions: Stratford-upon-Avon, Blenheim Palace , Oxford and London. It also visits many picturesque villages and interesting market towns and passes a wealth of sites of historic interest. Shakespeare's Way can be followed in either direction or walked in sections.

From the poet's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's Way meanders through the Cotswolds past Blenheim Palace and the charming town of Woodstock before following the River Thames into the historic city of Oxford . Highlights of the Cotswolds section of Shakespeare's Way include the five houses connected with Shakespeare and his family, his grave in Holy Trinity Church and the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres in Stratford; the attractive villages of Clifford Chambers, Preston-on-Stour, Hangington and Lidstone; the bustling market towns of Chipping Norton, Woodstock and Shipston-on-Stour; the 'lost' villages of Overchalford and Nether Chalford; the many delightful churches, each displaying some notable feature; the mysterious Rollright Stones, one of the most important stone circles in Britain; spectacular Blenheim Palace, presented by a grateful nation to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough as a reward for military triumph against the French; the magnificent colleges, museums and gardens of Britain's oldest university; and the tranquil countryside of the Cotswolds.

Beyond Oxford , Shakespeare's Way crosses the hills and valleys of the Chilterns passing through a succession of pretty villages and marvellous beech woods, before re-joining the Thames at the little town of Marlow . Highlights of the Chilterns section of the trail include Stonor House, a beautiful Tudor mansion nestling in a fold of the Chiltern Hills; attractive villages such as Hambleden with its beautiful little church; the lovely duck pond in the hamlet of Rotten Row; the tranquil beech woodland; the pretty villages of brick and flint cottages nestling around medieval churches; and the lovely riverside town of Marlow.

The final stretch of the trail follows the Grand Union Canal and the River Thames through the heart of London to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Highlights of the London section of the trail include Kew Palace, built in Dutch style in 1631; Kew Gardens with its unique collection of 40,000 plant species; the views of St Paul's Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament; Lambeth Palace, the London house of the Archbishops of Canterbury since the 12 th century; the wonderful array of bridges spanning the Thames; the giant wheel of the London Eye; and the amazing recreation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

Shakespeare's Way was developed to raise funds for the Shakespeare Hospice, Stratford-upon-Avon. Contours Walking Holidays will make a £5.00 donation to the Shakespeare Hospice for every person booking this tour.

Holiday Highlights

  • Experiencing the contrast between the tranquil countryside in the Cotswolds and the Chilterns before passing into the lively capital of London along the River Thames.
  • Following in the footsteps of the world famous Bard, Shakespeare, from his home in Stratford-upon Avon, his tomb at Holy Trinity Church and the Globe Theatre in London.
  • Visiting the wonderful stately homes at Blenheim Palace and Stonor.

Testimonials

"Gave a very good view of rural living and areas and we loved the many woodlands especially the beech areas of the Chilterns. Nice mixture of accommodation types."
- Mr Ryrie. Australia


Shakespeare’s Way - North to South

Total Distance 146 miles (233.5 km)
Start and Finish Stratford-upon-Avon to London
Availability 2nd January to 24th December
click on a photo to enlarge
River Avon Shakespeare’s Way
Rollright stones Shakespeare’s Way
Globe Theatre London Shakespeare’s Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SHW1 11 nights, 10 days walking £1130 per person More Information Book Online
SHW2 12 nights, 11 days walking £1220 per person More Information Book Online
SHW3 13 nights, 12 days walking £1315 per person More Information Book Online
SHW4 14 nights, 13 days walking £1405 per person More Information Book Online
SHW5 16 nights, 15 days walking £1600 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£30 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
Extra night (Oxford)
£70 per person / per night
Extra night (Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Southwark)
£90 per person / per night
Extra night (Woodstock)
£70 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.
Don’t have the time for the complete walk?

We also offer The Shakespeare’s Way in three sections, giving those with less time the opportunity to complete the trail in stages.


Shakespeare’s Way - Cotswolds Section - North to South

Shakespeares Way - Cotswolds Section Map

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 58 miles (93 km)
Start and Finish Stratford-upon-Avon to Oxford
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The Cotswolds section of Shakespeare’s Way starts at Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon and continues through the idyllic Cotswold Hills on the route that the Bard may have taken to Oxford on his way to London.

Starting in the fascinating town of Stratford-upon-Avon, there is plenty to see and do, from watching the boats on the River Avon, visiting Shakespeare’s tomb at Holy Trinity Church and discovering the five houses associated with Shakespeare that are scattered around Stratford Town.

Following the glistening waters of the River Avon, the trail meets the valley of the River Stour and passes through a series of charming villages such as Atherstone-on-Stour and Alderminster, before arriving in the splendid old Market Town of Shipston-on-Stour. This fascinating place, originally named ‘Sheep-Wash-Town,’ has a long history as a working wool town and coaching town, with many of the coaching inns still on the high street.

Leaving the River Stour, the trail ascends as it approaches the village of Long Compton, close to the Oxfordshire border. The intriguing, Neolithic ‘Rollright Stones’ rest a short distance away and provide a fascinating insight into the area’s folklore. With the high level Cotswold surroundings, there are some lovely views to admire before the trail descends into Chipping Norton, the highest town in Oxfordshire, built on the site of a Norman Castle and home to the 12th century ‘wool church’ of St Mary, one of the finest churches in the Cotswolds.

Out of Chipping Norton, the trail meets the River Glyme and the Glyme Valley Nature Reserve, where limestone grasslands attract an abundance of beautiful wild-flowers and wildlife. The peaceful, wooded valleys soon enter the grounds of the majestic Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill and one of the most impressive stately homes in Britain. Here, the splendid grounds of Blenheim Park, landscaped by Capability Brown, provide ancient Beeches and tree-lined avenues to delight even the weariest of walkers with their sense of grandeur.

Continuing through the pretty town of Woodstock, there are many interesting places to visit, including Chaucer’s House and the simple tomb of Sir Winston Churchill that can be found in the churchyard of nearby Bladon.

Soon, the trail joins the Thames Path and continues to the historic city of Oxford, where the Cotswolds section of the trail ends. Here, there is the opportunity to explore some fascinating sights, from taking a traditional punt along the River Cherwell, being astounded by the breath-taking Bodleian Library and visiting 38 colleges of Oxford University, the oldest University in the English speaking world, Oxford is a spectacular place to end this section of the stunning Cotswolds section of Shakespeare’s Way.

Shakespeare’s Way was created to raise funds for the Shakespeare Hospice in Stratford-upon-Avon. For every booking made through Contours Walking Holidays, £5.00 will be donated to the Shakespeare Hospice.

Holiday Highlights

  • Walking through the stunning countryside of the Cotswold Hills from Stratford-upon-Avon to Oxford.
  • Exploring Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, including Shakespeare’s birthplace, his tomb and the five houses associated with the Bard.
  • Visiting the extraordinary ‘Rollright Stones’.
  • Arriving in the magnificent city of Oxford, with its world famous University.
click on a photo to enlarge
Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford upon Avon
Narrow boat on River Avon
River Avon
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SHWCO1 5 nights, 4 days walking £470 per person More Information Book Online
SHWCO2 6 nights, 5 days walking £560 per person More Information Book Online
SHWCO3 8 nights, 7 days walking £740 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£30 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
Extra night (Oxford)
£70 per person / per night
Extra night (Woodstock)
£70 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

Shakespeare's Way Taster Break - Central Section - North to South

Shakespeares Way - Chilterns Section Map

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 38 miles (61 km)
Start and Finish Oxford to Marlow
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The Chilterns section of the Shakespeare’s Way begins in the fascinating city of Oxford and continues through tranquil countryside to the appealing town of Marlow on the River Thames. The route visits a series of picturesque towns and villages as it follows the route that Shakespeare may have taken as he travelled from Stratford-upon-Avon to London.

The historic centre of Oxford provides a wonderful start to the trail as you wander through old streets, rich in culture and emanating a superbly academic atmosphere. From here, the trail follows the route of the Thames Path for a short while, before it moves away from the river and crosses the hills of the Chilterns and through the attractive villages of Chiselhampton and Stadhampton.

The gentle walking on this section allows plenty of time to admire the stunning thatched cottages in Chalgrove and the tiny village of Britwell Salome. These villages are perfect examples of why the area is known as ‘Midsomer Country,’ having inspired the beautiful town of Midsomer in the TV series ‘Midsomer Murders.’

The Chilterns really serve to impress as the trail continues through hills, valleys and peaceful woodland, visiting the villages of Cookley Green and Pishill, before arriving in Stonor, where the fabulous old manor house is surrounded by herds of fallow deer and gently sloping lawns, framed by trees.

Finally, the trail passes through beech woods and re-joins the Thames at Marlow, where writers including Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and T.S Eliot once lived. Absorbing the tranquillity on the riverside in Marlow is a wonderful end to this section of the trail, which captures the very best of the Chiltern Hills from Oxford to Marlow.

The Shakespeare Hospice is an independent charity that requires vital donations from supporters. The Shakespeare’s Way was developed to support this charity and as such, Contours Walking Holidays will make a donation of £5.00 for every person who books this tour.

Holiday Highlights

  • Visiting the oldest university in the English speaking world in Oxford and taking a punt down the River Cherwell.
  • Crossing the delightful rolling hills and beech woodlands in the Chilterns.
  • Admiring the beautiful cottages in villages such as Chalgrove, Cookley Green and Stonor.
click on a photo to enlarge
Oxford from St Mary the Virgin church
Chilterns from Stonor Park Shakespeare’s Way
Punts in Oxford Shakespeare’s Way
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SHWCT1 4 nights, 3 days walking £400 per person More Information Book Online
SHWCT2 5 nights, 4 days walking £490 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£30 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
Extra night (Oxford)
£70 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.

Shakespeare's Way Taster Break - Eastern Section - North to South

Shakespeares Way - London Section Map

click on the map to enlarge

Total Distance 50 miles (80 km)
Start and Finish Marlow to London
Availability 2nd January to 24th December

The London section of Shakespeare’s Way starts in the little riverside town of Marlow and follows the final stretch of the route that Shakespeare may have taken on his journey to The Globe Theatre in London.

On leaving the attractive town of Marlow, the trail follows the River Thames as it grows wider and passes the Royal manor of Cookham, where Kenneth Grahame once lived and is said to have taken inspiration for his book ‘The Wind in the Willows.’ The trail then moves away from the river and passes through Burnham Beeches, an intriguing area once filled with highwaymen and where ancient trees give a sense of timeless nature.

Soon, the trail arrives in Iver and then follows the Grand Union Canal to Brentwood, where the canal re-joins the River Thames. A short distance later, the trail visits Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens, where there is a unique collection of thousands of plant species.

The final section of the trail follows a gentle, level route along the South Bank and all the way to Shakespeare’s Globe. On the way, there are numerous sights to experience, including Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and finally, the fabulous reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Here, you may wish to take a tour around the theatre or absorb the theatrical atmosphere by watching a play – the perfect way to round off the London section of the Shakespeare’s Way.

The Shakespeare’s Way has been developed to raise funds in support of the Shakespeare Hospice in Stratford-upon-Avon. A donation of £5.00 will be donated to the Shakespeare Hospice for every person booked on this tour.

Holiday Highlights

  • Following the lovely canal towpaths and riverside paths from Marlow to London.
  • Visiting locations rich with literary interest, from Marlow, the home of Mary and Perch Bysshe Shelley, Kenneth Grahame’s Cookham and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
  • Experiencing the many famous sites on arrival in London, including Lambeth Palace, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Millennium Bridge and finally, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
click on a photo to enlarge
River Thames at Marlow
Royal Botanic gardens London
London
Tour Code Itinerary Tour Price    
SHWL1 4 nights, 3 days walking £445 per person More Information Book Online
SHWL2 5 nights, 4 days walking £550 per person More Information Book Online
Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are walking on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:
£45 per person / per night
£30 per person / per night
You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:
Extra night (Standard)
£60 per person / per night
Extra night (Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Southwark)
£90 per person / per night
All of our prices are in British pounds (£). Use our currency converter to convert British pounds (£) to your country’s currency.

The price that you pay includes:

  • accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis.
  • door to door luggage transfers for every day of your tour.
  • maps, guidebooks and a tour pack detailing specific information about your holiday.