A visit to Cliveden Gardens

Everything is changing very quickly. What can we do in Hertfordshire or around that we have not done yet? I wrote my first newsletter on Friday night as we were going into Tier 3 on Saturday, the next day the whole of Hertfordshire was in Tier 4. So I had looked at things to do around Hertfordshire, but remain in Tier 4, socially distanced, entertaining enough for 2 kids. And I came across Cliveden. I got tickets for the following Tuesday to visit Cliveden Gardens (only) with the kids.

Currently, Clivenden House is closed. Berkshire is also in Tier 4. I have not been inside, but it looks incredible, and is on my list for a visit if we are ever able to. It is only 45 minutes away from ours, so totally accessible for a day trip. Without the House, going to visit Cliveden Gardens is totally worth thinking about.

How to book a visit at Cliveden?

However we were able to book a visit to the gardens through the National Trust website. It takes a bit of time, but it is worth it. In fact as the House is currently closed to guests, we were able to go round the house more freely, as you will not disturbed guest at the hotel or the spa. This is the time to enjoy the sprawling gardens. There are a couple of places to get a takeaway coffee and some snacks, in case the little ones need food (or bribe them to walk just a little bit further).

Cliveden stands on a high wooded plateau overlooking the River Thames. The name “Cliveden” (formerly Cliffden or Clyveden) means “valley among cliffs”.

A story of the landscaping

Back in 1666 Charles Bridgeman designed walks and avenues. Lancelot Capability Brown gave advice on the park, presumably using the Thames as the curved water body so characteristic of the Serpentine Style. Sir Charles Barry designed the present hour and garden in 1849, converting the estate to the Landscape Style.

The great formal gardens, and topiary in the Long Garden, are spectacular (even in winter) and we only managed to walk around half of the acres of woodland, down to the River Thames. I also managed to lose Luc briefly as we ran around the Long Garden, instead of taking the ladder down to the path to the Thames. We all found each other at the Boat House.

Renowned for Gatsby-esque parties thrown by Lord Astor, 21st-century Cliveden is the country-house hotel to trump all others, and it has real impact, the golden gates are only a glimpse of the glamour of the estate.

The National Trust has a Peter Rabbit Trail at Cliveden. We did not do it, but it is worth looking at to guide you through the gardens. We went down to the River and up the statue far far away in the distance. There is bonus point if you go and find the painting in my first image.

For more inspiration on walks to do around Hertfordshire, check the ‘walk’ section of my journal, I will keep updating it during the holiday period or sign up to my newsletter to receive the latest news (a pop up window should open).


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