The County of Gloucestershire, which has a population of around 600,000 and covers an area of 1,020 square miles (2,650 sq km) has some of the finest scenery in Britain, including a large part of the Cotswolds AONB. Its topography can be generally divided into high and low lying areas, with the higher ground of the Cotswold Plateau and the Forest of Dean and the lower ground of the Severn Vale. The Severn, which is the longest river in Britain, has had a major influence in shaping the landscape over large areas of the County. The Cotswold hills rise to a height of up to 1,000 feet above sea level and in the south of the County around the Stroud area the valleys are steeply incised.
In addition to accommodating a major part of the famous Cotswold Way, the county has a large number of other important long distance paths including the Diamond Way, Gloucestershire Way, MacMillan Way, Monarchs Way, Poets Way, Severn Way, part of the Thames Path, Wardens Way, Windrush Way and Wychavon Way, Its 266 parishes are home to a huge network of 9,662 public footpaths and bridleways extending over a total distance of 3,500 miles (5,647km).
The Highways Authority responsible for their upkeep is Gloucestershire County Council and they have recently completed a groundbreaking survey of the entire Rights of Way network of paths in which every sign, stile, gate, bridge or other aspect of each path has been digitally recorded. The County has a comprehensive Rights of Way digital mapping facility giving comprehensive details of all definitive paths. This can be accessed directly through the Gloucestershire County Council website