Cliveden red walking trail

Cliveden, Taplow, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire, SL6 0JA

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Discover the life-sized carved wooden elephant © National Trust / Liz Ward

Discover the life-sized carved wooden elephant

Enjoy one of the prettiest spots on the River Thames © National Trust/ Meghan Doran

Enjoy one of the prettiest spots on the River Thames

Walk along the riverbank and past Spring Cottage © National Trust/Liz Ward

Walk along the riverbank and past Spring Cottage

View of Cliveden House from the Duke of Sutherland’s statue © National Trust/Paul Watson

View of Cliveden House from the Duke of Sutherland’s statue

Let off steam on the Trim Trail © National Trust / David Watson

Let off steam on the Trim Trail

Route overview

Cliveden's spectacular country estate overlooks the River Thames and is open daily for most of the year. For over 350 years it has been a place of history, mystery, intrigue and scandal.

Scandal hit most recently in the 1960s, when Cliveden was famously linked to the Profumo Affair.

On this trail, enjoy tranquil riverside scenery as well as stunning views of the Berkshire countryside.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of Cliveden's red walking trail
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Woodland car park, grid ref: SU909832

  1. From the woodland car park follow the path signposted ‘picnic and sculpture area’ and go through the kissing gate. The elephant and bear wood carvings will be on your right. Follow the route to the left past the picnic benches.

    Show/HideWood carvings

    Discover the elephant, bear and tiger wood carvings as well as the famous Cliveden snails ornately crafted by local woodcarver Nick Garnett. These wooden snails, carved using a chainsaw, depict the tiny ‘papillifera papillaris’ snail living in the Borghese Balustrade. The snails were ‘imported’ from Rome in 1896, with the 100ft marble balustrade that now runs along the top of the Parterre. Common around the Mediterranean, these snails are one of the only sightings of this species in the UK.

    Discover the life-sized carved wooden elephant © National Trust / Liz Ward
  2. Continue down the slope and past the carved Cliveden snails. At the viewing area ahead take a moment to look out over the Berkshire countryside and River Thames below. Turn right and follow the path straight along the cliff top.

  3. At the red marker post, take the sharp left track down the steep slope towards the river (take care, as this is slippery when wet). At the bottom, take the right fork back on yourself and follow the river (on your left).

  4. Continue along the riverside path, passing the islands and watching for bird life.

    Show/HideRiverside views

    Walk along the riverbank and enjoy one of the prettiest spots on the River Thames. In Chapter 12 of Three Men in a Boat (1889), Jerome K. Jerome describes Cliveden Reach as 'unbroken loveliness this is, perhaps, the sweetest stretch of all the river'. The River Thames may take its name from the Sanskrit Tamas meaning 'dark' as its waters are often dark and cloudy. Another thought is that it is named after the Roman words 'tam' meaning wide and 'isis' meaning water.

    Enjoy one of the prettiest spots on the River Thames © National Trust/ Meghan Doran
  5. Continue on the path with Spring Cottage on your left and bear right up the steep, winding steps, located beside the cottage (by the red marker post).

    Show/HideSpring Cottage

    Spring Cottage was the former home of osteopath Stephen Ward, who introduced Christine Keeler to Secretary of State for War John Profumo in 1961. The ‘Profumo Affair’ changed the course of political history when they rocked the nation with their confessions in 1963. Set on the banks of the River Thames, Spring Cottage takes its name from a spring that emerges from nearby cliffs.

    Walk along the riverbank and past Spring Cottage © National Trust/Liz Ward
  6. Pass the Sequoia ring on your left and take the steps on your right up to the Duke of Sutherland’s Statue. If you look out from here you will see views of Cliveden House and the Parterre.

    Show/HideClief-dene

    Built on a 200ft (61m) chalk cliff with a dene, or valley, running below, the estate was originally named Clief-dene. We’ve owned the house and gardens since 1942, but have let the house as a hotel since the late 1980s. There are clear views of Cliveden House and the famous Parterre from the Duke of Sutherland’s statue.

    View of Cliveden House from the Duke of Sutherland’s statue © National Trust/Paul Watson
  7. Looking out from the Duke of Sutherland's statue, take the path to your left (with the river below you on your right).

    Show/HideWoodland Trim Trail

    Why not take a detour from the Duke of Sutherland's statue and follow the path signposted 'Green Drive' through the avenue of lime trees? Look out for signs to the Woodland Workout Trim Trail and test your skills on 10 enticing pieces of wooden exercise equipment. Hidden amongst the trees on a 985yd (900m) circular route, this trail is suitable for ages six upwards. Simply follow the instructions at each point.

    Let off steam on the Trim Trail © National Trust / David Watson
  8. At the red marker post turn left.

  9. Follow this path and turn right at the junction. This avenue, known as Green Drive, leads you back to the woodland car park.

    Show/HideExtend your walk...

    Alternatively, turn left at this junction to explore the gardens and make use of our refreshment facilities before walking back to your car. Walking from this junction to the gardens will take you approximately 20 minutes (one way) at a moderate walking speed.

  10. Go through the gate and follow the path to the woodland car park.

End: Woodland car park, grid ref: SU909832

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.1 miles (4.98km)
  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • OS Map: Explorer 172 (Chiltern Hills East)
  • Terrain:

    This walk follows footpaths and gravel pathways through the woods and along the riverbank. Moderate terrain, with one steep walk down to the river near the start and steep steps uphill further on. Dogs are welcome in our woodland.

  • How to get here:

    By bike: Approximately 1 mile (1.6km) north of Taplow on Cliveden Road

    By train: Taplow Station 1.3 miles (2km) (not Sunday); Burnham 3 miles (4.8km)

    By boat: Hire a boat in Maidenhead or Windsor and travel to Cliveden on the River Thames. 24-hour mooring fee £8. Mooring available for half a mile downstream from Cliveden boathouse

    By car: 1.3 miles (2km) north of Taplow; leave M4 at junction 7 on to A4, or M40 at junction 4 onto A404 to Marlow and follow brown signs for the woodland car park. Postcode for Sat Nav: SL6 0HJ

    Admission charges for Cliveden apply.

  • Facilities:

    • Car parking at the woodland car park
    • Please note, there are no toilets or refreshment facilities in the woodlands

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