Cliveden red walking trail
Enjoy tranquil riverside scenery as well as stunning views of the Berkshire countryside on this moderate trail along the riverbank and through the woods.
Impressive grounds overlooking the River Thames
Cliveden's spectacular country estate overlooks the River Thames and is open daily for most of the year. For more than 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.
Woodland car park, grid ref: SU909832
From the woodland car park follow the path signposted ‘picnic and viewpoint’. Go through the large kissing gate on your right and continue. The elephant and bear wood carvings will be on your right. Follow the route to the left past the picnic benches.
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 (30m) 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.
Continue down the slope and past the carved wooden Cliveden snails. If you look out at the viewing area ahead you can see views of Berkshire countryside and the River Thames below. You can also see Cliveden House Hotel to your right in the distance. Turn right after this view point and follow the path along the cliff top.
At the red marker post (where the finger post indicates the 'River'), take the sharp left onto a steep sloping track down towards the river (take care, as this is slippery when wet). At the bottom, take the right fork back on yourself, following the finger post towards 'House and Gardens'. Continue along the path with the river on your left.
Continue along the riverside path, passing the islands and watching for bird life.
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.
At the point where you reach Spring Cottage on your left, where the red marker indicates, bear right up the steep and winding steps, located beside the cottage. Climb to the top.
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.
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. Looking out from the statue, take the path to your left, signposted 'Viewpoint' (with the river below you on your right).
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.
Continue along the cliff top path.
When you reach the red marker turn left into an avenue of lime trees.
Follow this path to its end. Turn right when you reach the junction. This avenue, known as Green Drive, leads you back to the woodland car park. At its end the avenue will narrow.
Extend 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.
Take the kissing gate on your right. Head straight through the central small walkway with fields on your left before entering a sheltered wooded area back to the woodland car park.
Woodland car park, grid ref: SU909832
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