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Now that we are well and truly moving out of lockdown, a lot of us are enjoying some days out now. Of course, things are a little different though! So I thought I’d write about our experience of visiting Cliveden National Trust in Maidenhead, with social distancing measures in place. Just in case anyone was thinking of going and wondering how all the measures might affect their day 🙂
Getting National Trust tickets
Anyone who has tried to get National Trust tickets since their properties reopened after lockdown, will know it can be a bit of a nightmare at the moment! I’m not sure if it’s worse in Surrey. I get the impression it might be a bit easier in some other areas? I could be wrong!
But anyway, the current situation is that tickets for all National Trust properties are released on Fridays from midnight. Tickets are for the following week – you can’t book any further in advance. You have to book and will be turned away if you haven’t.
As demand is so high, you basically have to stay up until midnight if you want to bag tickets for a decent time slot. This is a bit of a pain in the butt to be honest. Most weeks I’ve been forgetting and ending up missing out, which is a little annoying when I’m still paying membership!
Anyway, if you do remember to get on at midnight, the procedure is pretty straightforward. You just choose the property you’d like to visit, then you wait in a queue to get on the website. Waiting time can vary. When I did it the other week I waited half an hour, but my friend waited over an hour this week!
Booking is easy. You just choose your time slot, select how many tickets you’d like, and if you’re a member, you put in your membership number. Done!
Arriving at Cliveden
Cliveden is about an hour away from us. When we arrived, an attendant greeted us and took our name. We showed our membership cards (all from a distance with us still in the car.) Then we were directed to the car park. Parking was super simple. I was surprised how busy the car park looked but walking to the entrance was fine and it was easy to keep our distance from other people.
You’re given a half-hour time slot – we chose 11-11.30. I’m not sure how strict they are if you don’t arrive within that time. It does say on the website you would be turned away. It works really well to minimise the amount of people entering at a time though. We didn’t have to go through any other kind of checking, which meant there was no queueing or going through any narrow entrances/ticket offices etc.
The main cafe was closed but there was a kiosk open near the entrance. It was offering takeaway coffees, some cold drinks and a few packaged snacks like flapjacks and brownies. You definitely need to bring your own packed lunch or picnic.
Covid-19 measures and social distancing
We found social distancing really easy at Cliveden National Trust, as the grounds are so spacious and spread out. The only place we had to be the tiniest bit careful was in the water garden, where we just had to wait for others when going over the stepping stones. It didn’t feel too busy at all though, as the numbers of people allowed in are strictly limited at the moment.
Everyone seemed to be being very careful and considerate, which was reassuring. Around the cafe kiosk there weren’t markers or anything but people were keeping their distance when queueing. There were screens at the tills and you could only pay by card. We didn’t go in the shop but there were similar measures in there too, as well as cleaning products to wipe baskets. They were limiting numbers allowed in at once too.
There was also hand sanitiser available at the kiosk and shop. I didn’t notice any anywhere else so maybe advisable to bring your own too.
There were toilets open near the entrance with clear signs regarding social distancing. They were lovely and clean. Also, there were some by the main cafe which were open as well.
There is a little picnic area with tables when you first go into the water garden, then a larger one further round the other side. We had brought a picnic blanket with us and sat in the shade along the edge of the Parterre by the main house.
The six-acre Parterre comprises 16 triangular beds with box hedging and topiary. Usually in Spring and Summer it’s a dramatic spectacle with colourful flowers. It’s not as colourful this year as the spring to summer bedding changeover didn’t happen due to lockdown. It still looks lovely though and is such an impressive garden 🙂
We loved exploring the beautiful water garden. It’s an oriental garden full of Japanese plants, a big lily pond full of Koi Carp and a Chinese pagoda. The twigs had lots of fun dancing in the pagoda and walking over the stepping stones!
The two herbaceous borders leading up to the house are stunning. They’re packed with colourful plants and flowers!
Cliveden House is now used as a luxury country house hotel. It’s amazing to look at (and pose like a t*t in front of!) At certain times of the year you can usually take a short, guided tour inside but these aren’t running at the moment due to Covid-19. To be honest, I’m not sure we’d have attempted it with our feral 5-year olds anyway haha!
We always love looking at the shiny golden gate though 🙂
There are lots of impressive sculptures and statues around the grounds of Cliveden. Probably most notable is the Fountain of Love on the main drive. (You can’t see much of it in this photo – but trust me, it’s pretty cool!)
There’s also loads of amazing woodland to explore, as well as a maze. In fact, there’s so much to see at Cliveden that there was lots we missed this time on our visit. I especially wish we’d seen the Rose Garden as it looks amazing! We will definitely be back 🙂
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this has given you some useful information on visiting Cliveden National Trust with social distancing measures in place. And if, like me, you’re a bit anxious about lockdown ending, hopefully this might have put you at ease about having a lovely National Trust day out and keeping safe too 🙂
Til next time,
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Check out some of my other posts for more ideas of fab family days out: