The Blount family mansion lies beside the Thames in the unspoiled village of Mapledurham. In the house, you'll see the Elizabethan ceilings and the great oak staircase, as well as the portraits of the two beautiful sisters with whom the poet Alexander Pope, a frequent visitor here, fell in love. The family chapel, built in 1789, is a fine example of modern Gothic architecture. Cream teas with homemade cakes are available at the house. On the grounds, the last working water mill on the Thames still produces flour.
The most romantic way to reach this lovely old house is to take the boat that leaves the promenade next to Caversham Bridge at 2pm on Saturday, Sunday, and bank holidays from Easter to September. The journey upstream takes between 30 and 80 minutes, and the boat leaves Mapledurham again at 5pm for the return trip to Caversham, giving you plenty of time to walk through the house. The round-trip boat ride from Caversham costs £7 for adults and £5 for children. An additional landing fee of £2 adults and £1 for children is charged. You can get further details about the boat from Thames Rivercruise Ltd., Pipers Island, Bridge Street, Caversham Bridge, Reading (tel. 07900/352-235; www.thamesrivercruise.co.uk).