Travelling with kids (and babies)
Cliveden House and National Trust Gardens have been a favourite day trip from London and one of the best places along the Thames that we discovered in our 18 years of exploring around London. Cliveden Reach and the area between Boulders and Lockham locks is one the prettiest spots on Thames. Lunch at Cliveden is also awesome in terms of options, from Michelin star quality Andre Garrett to the alfresco chic Cliveden Astor Grill, exquisite picnics with champagne on Cliveden boat should you be on a splurge or simply picnic by the river with prosecco or National Trust Cafe.
This summer with temperatures soaring about 25 degrees Cliveden Reach has been also a favourite retreat for sailing on Thames with National Trust – a cute and small size boat in a circular route between Boulders and Lockham locks; rowing by yourself, canoeing or simply wild swimming.
Drive from London: between 30-45 minutes from Kensington traffic depending.
(i) National Trust if you go for the wonderful gardens, maze, playground, NT cafe and Cliveden Reach day out.
(ii) Cliveden House and restaurant if you booked Andre Garrett or Cliveden Astor Grill. Or if you are in for a proper treat, spend the day at the spa or night with Cliveden hotel (like the royals the night before getting hitched).
Why adults love it:
What’s not to love in those expansive grounds impossible to exhaust in a one day trip, from manicured gardens with lots of flowers; Tortoise fountain overlooking Thames; relaxing boat trips sipping bubbles by best places along the Thames or simply sitting by the river or in the shades of the trees, watching the kids playing and running around.
Why kids are very fond of:
Countryside exploration, river walks, fish and birds to be observed, tones of pretty grounds to run around, hills rolling competition, boats to be rowed by best places along the Thames, wild swimming are just a few of the summer highlights.
Our favourite months to visit Cliveden:
We love Cliveden pretty much in any season and whilst the grownups indulge in the exquisite gastronomy, the kids love seeing you this manor with so much intriguing history and speculate about ghosts and the ancient objects. In spring and autumn we make time for the Maze and Playground, whilst in the hot days of summer, we descend by the Thames, jump on a boat, splash around and swim.
The cost of a day trip to Cliveden:
For National Trust members this is a free day out – just bring your picnic or book you restaurant! If you are fond of gourmet meals like us but still want to be sensible, we found the market lunch with Andre Garrett glorious and great value for money (£36 for 3 amazing dishes).
We also found Cliveden Astor Grill delish and the gorgeous setting attracts a very fashionable crowd! Should kids not be on their best behaviour or you forgot to book few days in advance, NT cafe on the other side is also ok and has some good options, prosecco, craft beer, cider and icecream included plus organic home made dishes.
If you are in for a proper treat, book Cliveden vintage boat and go for a river champagne picnic – it’s difficult to beat it on hot weather!
Wild swimming, one of the best places along the Thames:
Swimming in Thames has been a dream of mine for a while. And in the past Romans, noblemen and children made most of this waterway. These days it’s pretty much reserved for athletes. Having seen few swimmers though on our boat trips last few weeks, was very keen to try it ourselves. This is not your sterile chloride pool environment but a vibrant happy river with fish, leaves, brunches and mud. In my childhood the mighty Danube fascinated me and I tested with my uncle its shallow bits. Cliveden Reach waters are less temperamental than the Danube and in August heat a delight to splash in. Our 2 years old also loved them and wouldn’t get out – having the time of his life chasing fish and leaves.
Would you take the plunge? Or settle for that breezy boat trip or stay for a classy al fresco lunch? For more inspiration on glorious days out, check our best day trips within an hour drive from London.