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Exploring the woodlands at Cliveden

Trees in the woodlands on Greendrive in the summer at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire.
Greendrive, Woodlands in the summer at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. | © National Trust / © Mary Balfour

Stroll through the woodlands at Cliveden to explore a landscape of tree-lined rides and viewpoints. Keep a look out for some of the more unusual features added by the families who have owned the estate over the years, including a flint grotto and a giant slice of a Californian redwood tree.

Things to see in the woodlands

Discover many intriguing features as you wander through the trees.

The Duke’s Seat

Perched high on the clifftop overlooking the house and Parterre, you’ll find a larger-than-life marble statue of the Duke of Sutherland. It was moved here from the Grand Avenue in 1896 to make way for Lord Astor’s new acquisition, the Fountain of Love.

It is an apt choice of location as nowhere else on the estate can you enjoy such a fine view of the house, built by the Sutherlands after a devastating fire in 1849.

A slice of Californian redwood

See another of Lord Astor’s additions to the woodlands a few steps down the cliff – a 16ft 6in (5.03m) wide slice of Californian redwood (Sequoia gigantea).

Exactly why this section was imported in 1897 remains unclear but rumours at the time claimed Lord Astor had made a drunken bet that trees in America were so large that he could find one that would seat 50 people around it for dinner. Lord Astor took legal action and even wrote to The Times to deny the suggestion.

'The section referred to has been placed on the ground as an object of interest, but it has never been intended to use it as a dining table.'

– William Waldorf Astor, 1899

It is still the widest section of Californian redwood in the United Kingdom and is now the preserve of cave spiders and bats.

Flint House

Sheltered by a bank to the western side of Green Drive (not far from the entry kiosk) you’ll find the grotto-like Flint House. Thought to date from the late 18th or early 19th century, this small open-sided structure has its walls, roof and floor faced in flint.

Take a moment to pause in this atmospheric spot, just as Cliveden's residents would have done many years ago.

Clive's Play Den in the summer in the woodlands at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire.
Clive's Play Den in the summer in the woodlands at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. | © National Trust / Daniel Dean

Family fun in Cliveden's woodlands

There's plenty to keep children occupied in the woodlands at Cliveden.

Woodland Play Trail

Why not while away an hour or two on the log stepping stones, balancing beams, rope swings and more? You might also strengthen your climbing and den building skills along the way.

You'll find the play trail in the heart of the woodlands just beyond the entry kiosk, off Green Drive. It's a great way to get active outdoors and is designed with children over six years old in mind.

Clive’s Den

Next to the play trail is Clive's Den, an extra-special natural den for make-believe of all kinds. Clive's Den is big enough for the whole family to hide in plus there are wooden musical chimes to play. It's a great secluded spot to put your feet up at the tree trunk picnic tables.

Walking trails and woodland sculpture spotting

If you are enchanted by the woodlands and want to see more, why not try the Blue Walking Trail? You can start from the play trail and follow the blue arrows to take a short circular route.

Just beyond the woodland car park you can discover striking 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, represent the tiny snails that were 'imported' from Rome in 1896 in the Borghese Balustrade.

Don’t forget to also keep a close eye out for the variety of birds, bats and bugs that live here, and if you're feeling adventurous, why not do a spot of bug hunting?

Practical information

If you want to break your walk, head to the woodland lounge in the centre of the woods where you’ll find essentials such as picnic tables and toilets.

The ground can be slippery under foot in winter and early spring months, so wellies or sturdy footwear are highly recommended.

Please note that the Woodland car park may close earlier than the Cliveden estate, so please check opening times before you visit.

Aerial view of Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Discover more at Cliveden

Find out when Cliveden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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