Cliveden House | Kidadl

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  • Discover 375 acres of woodlands, riverbanks, and formal gardens - and you can bring your dog!
  • Bamboozle yourselves as you attempt to find the centre of the Cliveden Maze.
  • Climb all 172 Yew Tree Steps, search for the carved wooden snails in the woodlands, and get the kids to have a go on the Wild Play Trail.

Cliveden House embodies the elegance and drama of a bygone age. Situated 40 metres above the River Thames, the house is now a luxury five-star hotel that goes by the name Cliveden House Hotel. The estate, which includes several magnificent gardens, a maze, woodlands, and boating opportunities, is now managed by The National Trust. Both house and estate are situated on the outskirts of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire and are the perfect destination for a family day out.

Cliveden House has a grand history, meaning that your family can follow in the footsteps of dukes, earls, and even royalty. Originally known as Cliff-dene, thanks to its commanding position on a chalk cliff, it was built in the 1660s by the Second Duke of Buckingham. Since then, it has been a glittering hub for society and scandal and has been owned by families including the Astors, all of whom developed the grounds, gardens, and building with their own unique style.

The results are secluded glades, tree-lined avenues, miles of woodland walks and picturesque riversides for your family to enjoy. Book a pedal or rowing boat to make the most of the boating experience on Cliveden Reach, a part of the River Thames rumoured to have inspired Kenneth Grahame to write The Wind in the Willows, so keep an eye out for Ratty and Mole. There are wonderful walks to enjoy through Cliveden House’s woodlands, and a flint grotto nestled in the trees. Dogs are allowed but follow the traffic light system, where green zones allow dogs off leads, amber zones require dogs on leads, and red zones are restricted to assistance dogs only.

There are also gardens for all the seasons. The Water Garden was built by Lord Astor at the turn of the twentieth century, and is a particular highlight for families en route to the play area, thanks to the wildlife that enjoy the surroundings. Watch for herons, ducks, geese, and the koi carp that swim in the ponds. The Water Garden is also particularly beautiful in spring, when the blossoms are out, or in autumn thanks to burning gold colours on the trees. Don’t forget to figure out the Cliveden Maze, either. Your kids can check out the lettuce and plums being grown in the Walled Garden, admire the roses in the Rose Garden (where over 900 roses flower), count the sculptures on the Fountain of Love, and marvel at the 19th Century grandeur of the Parterre. 

Keep in mind the excellent Audley End House and Gardens as an alternative family day trip, or perhaps Knebworth House would inspire your kids.

What to know before you go

  • Cliveden House opening times vary, with the gardens, woodlands, and café open from 10am to 5pm, and the shop available from 11am to 5pm.
  • The refreshment kiosk in the Walled Garden provides light snacks and takeaway refreshments, whilst the Orangery Café provides more substantial meals. You can also have afternoon tea in the Dining Room Cliveden House, which was originally the Drawing Room and looks out over the Parterre and across the Thames Valley to the River Thames.
  • There are baby changing facilities in both the female and male Gas Yard & Conservatory Toilets.
  • You can hire a wheelchair and all-terrain trike from the National Trust website, and accessible path maps are available from the Information Centre. Hearing loops are also installed at every fixed till point, and there are designated parking spaces for access guests in the main car park. Accessible toilets are available in the Gas Yard off the main car park.
  • Dogs are welcome at Cliveden House: there’s a ‘traffic light’ system with areas where dogs are allowed marked on a dog walking map.
  • It’s worth being aware that there are unfenced lakes, ponds, and riversides around the Cliveden House estate.
  • Water taps for refilling bottles are available on the side of the Refreshment Kiosk in the Walled Garden.

Getting there

  • The nearest National Cycle routes are routes 50 and 61. The roads around Cliveden are single carriageway with 60 mph speed limits, so it’s worth bearing that in mind if you’re considering travelling with kids. There are cycle racks in the main car park.
  • There are no public bus services that run to Cliveden House.
  • Taplow station is 2.5 miles away, and Burnham is 3 miles. Both are on the London Paddington to Reading mainline, but Taplow does not run on a Sunday. Bourne End is 2 miles away from Cliveden on the Maidenhead to Marlow train line. Taxis from these stations can’t be guaranteed, so consider booking one in advance.
  • Or, if your family are keen walkers, you can wander on a pleasant route from Bourne End railway station through the countryside to Cliveden House. The trail is just over 2 miles and takes in local wildlife and landmarks.
  • If you’re travelling to Cliveden House by car, remember to pre-book your ticket for each person that is visiting. Present your booking ticket on arrival, and remember your National Trust membership card if you are a member.

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