I first visited the National Trust property Cliveden, in April 2009, the Spring before Monkey was born. I fell in love with the place and have been meaning to return ever since. Fast forward nearly 7 years and we finally made it back last weekend. We would be seeing Cliveden through the eyes of a child this time around.
There’s been a grand house on the estate at Cliveden since the 1600’s and I can remember reading about it years ago in a book about Nancy Astor, who lived there in the 1900’s. These days the house is rented out as a hotel and you can visit on a guided tour between 3-5pm on Thursdays and Sundays from April to October. Something we will have to complete another time.
We’d promised Monkey that he’d have lots of opportunity to run around in the grounds and as soon as I mentioned a maze, he was off.
We literally had to run to keep up with him. This the boy who a few months ago would never have left my side when exploring somewhere new. It’s amazing to see the difference in his confidence these days.
Maze done, time to explore the Water Garden. The stepping-stones looked very tempting to a 6 year old, but sadly each pathway was blocked off. I’m guessing some after winter maintenance was needed. So we imagined what it would be like to reach the temple and explore the island instead.
From the Water Garden it’s a short stroll to the fabulous Storybook Play Den. Isn’t this just adorable? Monkey was mesmerised as we spotted all the different animals in the carving.
We all thought this area was wonderful.
With wooden sculptures dotted around, children can join Peter Pan and Captain Hook on an adventure, jump over a sleeping Crocodile and hop along a snake, all before saying hello to the March Hare.
Seeing Cliveden through the eyes of a child was rather magical as we watched Monkey having lots of fun. Running from one part of the play ground to another.
Right next to the Storybook Play Den you can find toilets, the Doll’s House Cafe (no indoor seating) and lots of picnic tables. We stocked up on sandwiches and drinks and enjoyed an early lunch in the sunshine. By 12 o’clock the cafe was packed out, so it’s worth getting supplies a little early if you’re like us and aren’t organised enough to bring your own picnic.
Being a bit of a vehicle fanatic, Monkey had soon woofed his lunch down as a rather lovely wooden tractor/trailer and train were just calling out to be played on. There are even wooden bricks to pile into the trailer, or to use to make train tracks.
You could probably spend a whole day just enjoying this part of the Cliveden grounds. We’d promised Monkey a walk down to the Thames so we made our way back to the House and into the Parterre for our first view of the river.
It’s a beautiful house and walking along the terrace gives you a wonderful view of the Parterre and the Thames beyond.
All that space is just too inviting for a 6 year old. There was running around to be done, hide and seek adventures to be had, a pit stop to be taken before more running around.
The Thames was calling us, there are a few different paths down to the river, as well as trails through the woodlands. We’ve promised Monkey we will visit again, park at the Woodlands Car Park and spend a day exploring and den building. But for now we found a path down to the river, watched for swans, glimpsed at the boat house and enjoyed walking along the river in the Spring sunshine.
The Yew Tree Walk takes you back up towards Cliveden House so we took the challenge and climbed the 172 steps to the top.
There were a few pit stops along the way but we conquered the steps and the view from the top was certainly worth it.
Just when you think you’ve seen all that Cliveden has to offer you turn a corner and find yourself passing the Chapel and heading towards the Blenheim Pavilion and admiring the wonderful Clock Tower as you pass. We even managed a rare Mummy and Son photo along the way.
My son loves daisys and buttercups and whenever he seems them he always has to stop and pick some for his Mummy. I do love that boy.
There were even a few bugs to be spotted along the path.
The last time I saw the Long Garden it was bursting with Tulips in bloom, but even now, in a world of green you can see the beauty as you wander along.
Seeing Cliveden through the eyes of a child last weekend was lovely. We still missed bits out and will certainly be going back. When you get back to your car and your 6 year old turns round and tells you he’s had a brilliant day out and loves it at Cliveden, it’s been a good day out in the Spring sunshine.