We finished off the summer holidays with a day out at Cliveden. Cliveden is one of our favourite National Trust properties. Although we’ve visited it quite a few times, it’s such a huge estate that there are still lots of areas we’ve yet to explore. This time we decided to pick up a map and visit some of those areas.
We started off with the usual walk up the hill towards the house; stopping off for a picnic in the water gardens. This was one of the busier areas but there was still plenty of space to socially distance and enjoy our picnic.
Sophie was quite fascinated to see people cleaning the Fountain of Love as we passed it. We stopped to take a closer look. One of the people cleaning the fountain asked her if she could find the tortoise on the fountain. We’ve stopped at that fountain every time we’ve visited Cliveden and have never noticed that there is a tortoise near one of the sculpted figures. It just goes to show that there are always new things to discover even in familiar places!
We would normally head either towards the house or walk through the Long Garden after stopping at the fountain. This time we headed towards the Ilex Grove, where Sophie was fascinated by the different statues. She wanted to know who they all were. I could identify Pan but that was about it. While walking through the statues, we nearly walked into a caterpillar hanging on a silken thread right in the middle of the path. It looked just like it was suspended in mid-air. Sophie would fascinated by it. She would have liked to have taken a photo but we just couldn’t get the camera to focus on the caterpillar.
The trees in this area were already starting to shed their leaves. Sophie and Thomas had a wonderful time playing in the leaves. It was lovely to hear Thomas giggling away as we picked up handfuls of leaves and threw them in the air to rain down on him. It reminded me so much of watching Sophie and Jessica laughing together while throwing autumn leaves in the air on our visit to Claremont Landscape Gardens the autumn before Jessica died. Such a beautiful memory.
Sophie enjoyed piling up the leaves into a big heap and jumping into them. She then thought it would be fun to sit on the ground and be covered with leaves. Isn’t it wonderful how much fun something as simple as fallen leaves can be?
Next on the list of previously-unexplored places to visit was the rose garden. What a beautiful spot. We particularly loved the arch covered in climbing roses. We spotted one of the children’s namesake roses that we have in our garden – a Thomas à Becket rose. Sophie was a little disappointed that there were no Sophy’s Roses or Pretty Jessica roses. She enjoyed taking photos of the different roses with her camera. I love this photo she took of a bee near the roses. It looks like it’s carrying something, but I’m not sure exactly what.
It is lovely to see how much Sophie enjoys taking photos of things while out and about. She particularly likes to take photos of different types of flowers. The only downside is that it does mean that progress through flower gardens can be very slow. I don’t mind so much, but little brothers can get somewhat impatient after a while!
We stopped off for an ice-cream before heading back down the hill towards the woods. There was a bit of a queue but everyone was good at keeping their distance. Sophie had fun pretending her cone was a horn once she’d eaten the ice-cream out of it.
The Flint House is another place we’ve not visited before. This little stone grotto is believed to date from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. It’s quite an enchanting little spot – and a perfect place for some imaginative play.
We finished off with a walk down towards the Duke’s Seat where we admired the views back towards the house and the surrounding countryside. Sophie would have liked to have carried on further into the woods towards the children’s play trail, but we didn’t have time. Next time though, I think we’ll head into the woods and explore them a bit more instead of going towards the house as we usually do.
Visiting Cliveden – what you need to know:
Entrance to Cliveden is currently through pre-booked timed tickets. For more information and to book tickets, click here.