Sat on the banks in the River Thames, just outside the town of Maidenhead is the majestic Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire. Boasting a luxurious Hotel for the rich and famous, the House is set in splendid grounds providing hotel guests the opportunity to explore and relax in natural surroundings. Fortunately for those of us less rich and famous, the grounds are kept by the National Trust allowing Members and non-members alike to experience the various gardens, woodland and riverside which surrounds the exquisite property.
My parents are long standing National Trust members and as a child, more often than not, such properties offered the ideal place for an afternoon out – an enclosed area that I could be ‘let loose’ in. Cliveden is the location of many of my childhood memories and I spent many an afternoon exploring the vast grounds and marvelling at the beautiful flowers, not to mention rolling down the grassy banks on the front lawn with friends, returning home with grass stains much to the disapproval of my Mum.
What I think makes Cliveden so special is the mixture of different horticultural styles, with a huge landscaped lawn at the front of the house overlooking the Thames Valley, with box hedges and vibrant flowers, a ‘secret’ rose garden, the extended walled garden, made so beautiful in spring with blossoming trees and bright spring flowers, the wild woodland and my favourite, the Japanese garden, with traditional pagoda as well as bridges and stepping stones over water holding fantastic koi carp.
The grounds also sweep down to the riverside, where one can hire small rowing boats or where those feeling less energetic can sit down and enjoy a picnic.
Although beware, the climb back up the hill is steep and rather tiring!
To finish the day in Cliveden, the former Orangerie now houses a Cafe/ Restaurant and is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing drink or even perhaps an indulgent cream tea, with scones lathered with clotted cream and topped with jam.