If you didn’t get the chance to experience it last year, the wonderful‘talking trees trail’ is up and running again from 12 March onwards in the orchards at Cotehele, near Saltash. The trail brings traditional orchards to life in an entirely new way that is fun for all ages, and full of fascinating facts, but doesn’t impinge upon the beauty of the landscape.
Pick up a ‘talking pen’ from reception, and then you can just wander at will through the old and new orchards, stopping at random trees to activate their ‘voices’ and hear their stories. Amongst the audio clips – recorded with the help of local people – you can hear the Cornish cider apple ‘Colloggett Pippin’ talk in dialect about its breeding; bees talking about their short busy lives in orchards and how they make honey; a wassailing song and a recipe for apple crumble.
Cotehele’s old orchard was planted before 1731 and is an atmospheric place, full of character and mystery. The ‘Mother Orchard’, which contains 300 trees and 120 different apples, was planted by the local community in 2007 to establish a gene pool of historic varieties.
Other apples featured in the trail include the Beauty of Bath, an early dessert apple raised in Somerset in 1864; Cotehele Beauty, a dessert apple grown from a seedling found at Cotehele; Mère de Menage, a cooking apple known locally as ‘Blackrock’ (once widespread throughout the Tamar Valley but down to one tree in 1980); and Bramley Seedling, perhaps the most famous cooking apple, which celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.
For more information on the joint National Trust / Natural England project to protect England’s traditional orchards, go to: nationaltrust.org.uk/orchards