Our most recent visit was to Cliveden which is a National Trust property close to Maidenhead. Its well signed off of the M40 Junction 3. It has loads of parking spaces plus plenty of overflow parking for very busy days.
Cliveden is a perfect place for all the family as there is a real mix of things to see.
When you park up there is a converted stable yard with a small room,where you can watch a video about the history of Cliveden House. Nearby here is a National Trust shop and a refreshment stand. From here you enter the gardens.
As you go into the gardens, on your left you will come across the Cliveden Maze. Its a fabulous hedged maze that is quite challenging. Davids tip to everyone we came across was to find the middle always turn left unless you can't and then you should turn right . It seemed to work as we made our way to the centre and out again really quickly today.
Opposite the maze you will see the Japanese inspired garden with a small lake which at its centre has a Pagoda and you go across stepping stones to reach it. This is a really lovely area and often you can see herons and geese around the lake. There are a variety of different paths with stepping stones that you can take and the boys made us try all of them !
This leads you towards the Story Book play area, so named as in the play area you have characters from popular children's story books, like Kaa from The Jungle Book, Winnie The Poo, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. There are slides, a see saw, a play house and a variety of things to climb and balance on. I would say its aimed at children about 2 to 8 years old as David is starting to find it a bit too young for him now.
There is a small refreshments hut here where you can get hot drinks and ice creams etc and plenty of picnic benches to sit on.
From here we headed back towards the main entrance and this time followed signs for the house. Firstly you come across the "Love" fountain which is stunning and marks the end of the long drive towards the house. Cliveden is a large stately home that has now been turned into a very exclusive and expensive hotel and it is common to see some very expensive looking cars parked up in front of it. It has a beautifully ornate clock tower to the side of it and lovely gardens as you approach it.
Going round to the left hand side of the house brings you to the back terrace where you get a stunning view of the parterre and the surrounding landscape. This is currently being painstakingly restored and it was interesting to watch how they are restoring the building.
We walked the length of the Parterre and took in the view of the River Thames from the Chapel.
Cliveden is an absolutely huge estate and has many different areas. I would highly recommend the long garden, as its stunning with topiary figures, statues etc and is usually planted up in a stunning display.
There are many other areas to explore including, woodlands, a rose garden, the Canadian War Cemetery and other surprises hidden in the many acres that make up the estate.
Cliveden takes a minimum of 2 hours to see but I would recommend a whole day trip to be able to appreciate it fully.