Cliveden views walking trail
Positioned on top of chalk cliffs and overlooking the River Thames, Cliveden's magnificent gardens and woodlands offer breathtaking views that have been admired for centuries. The spot was chosen by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham in 1666 for its striking view to the River Thames. On this route you will discover some of the lesser-known beauty spots and glorious views.
Cliveden main car park, OS Grid Ref: SU910856Ca
Turn right out of the car park and walk to the Fountain of Love.
The Fountain of Love
The Fountain of Love was designed and carved in 1897 by American sculptor, Thomas Waldo Story. It was brought here by the 1st Lord Astor. He recalled in 1920, ‘the female figures are supposed to have discovered the fountain of love and to be experiencing the effects of its wonderful elixir’.
Walk past the fountain and down the grass avenue known as Queen Anne’s walk to the large urn at the other end. If you look back from the urn, you will see a framed view of the fountain. Walk past the urn and bear right towards the Blenheim Pavilion and amphitheatre.
The amphitheatre, tucked away on the cliff edge, hosted many theatrical performances during Frederick, Prince of Wales’ lease of the estate, including the first ever performance of ‘Rule, Britannia!’ in 1740. Sitting on the grass steps, you could imagine this famous performance taking place, whilst enjoying views of Cookham lock and Holy Trinity Church, Cookham in the distance.
Continue to follow the same path and bear left.
Canning's View was named after George Canning who was briefly prime minister in 1827. He was a regular visitor and spent many hours under a giant oak tree here, looking out at the spectacular view of the River Thames. The tree fell in May 2004 but the view to the river that George Canning enjoyed years ago still remains.
Continue along the same path and bear left when the route splits. Follow this path uphill and turn right at the next junction. Go through the gate and follow the path in front of you, signposted ‘Chapel’. Visit the chapel on your right for views over the Berkshire countryside.
Dating from 1735 and originally a tea-room, the chapel was converted into the final resting place for the Astors by William Waldorf Astor in 1893. The chapel is only open on Thursdays and Sunday afternoons but the chapel balcony is open seven days a week. The complex on the opposite side of the river is the Odney Club, a country house owned by the John Lewis Partnership.
At the next junction, bear left and follow signs to the ‘Tortoise Fountain’. Go through the wooden gate on your right and take the steps down to the fountain.
The Tortoise Fountain
Just down the steps from the Parterre is the Tortoise Fountain, named after the tortoise sculptures that hang over the top basin. The fountain was made by Thomas Waldo Story, the sculptor of the Fountain of Love. From here you can see breathtaking views to the River Thames 200ft below.
Continue to walk down the steps and follow the path straight ahead. At the next junction take the third exit, walking down steep steps and uneven terrain through the woods. (Be careful, this may be slippery when wet.) The path leads to a road with the river in front of you.
Walk along the riverbank to 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'. You can also take a trip on the river with one of our scheduled cruises or self-hire boats. Further information is available from the information centre in the main car park.
Cross the road and walk straight ahead towards the river, following the gravel path. Walk past the boathouse and continue on this path until you reach Spring Cottage.
With Spring Cottage on your right, make a u-turn up the steep, narrow steps through the woods. Continue to follow the steps uphill and bear right at the Sequoia Ring. This path will lead you to the Duke of Sutherland’s statue on your left and a viewpoint on your right looking out over surrounding Berkshire countryside.
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 1980’s. There are clear views of Cliveden House and the famous Parterre from the Duke of Sutherland’s statue.
Take the path through the avenue of lime trees, signposted ‘Green Drive’. At the next crossroads, turn left and follow the gravel path through the woods.
At the next crossroads, turn right and follow the road uphill. (Be careful of vehicles using the road.)
After about 50m turn left, signposted ‘To house’, and follow the path across the field. Walk up the steps through the woods and go through the gate at the top. Turn right and continue to follow the steps up to Cliveden House. Turn left at the large urn to walk to the South Terrace.
When the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland purchased the estate in 1849, they worked with Head Gardener John Fleming to transform a simple lawn into the innovative design of the parterre that you see today. The terrace above the parterre offers a perfect vantage point to look down on the display below as well as widespread views towards the Duke of Sutherland’s statue.
From the South Terrace retrace your steps to the large urn and continue straight ahead through the gap in the hedge. Walk along the lawn edge at the front of Cliveden House. Go through the arch in the hedge and walk down the Grand Avenue towards the Fountain of Love. Turn right at the fountain to make your way back to the car park.
Cliveden main car park, OS Grid Ref: SU910856
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