National Trust puts cider apples at its core

George Holmes, Area Ranger in South Somerset, planting a cider tree from the collection (c) Steve Haywood

An internationally important collection of cider apples, with almost 300 different varieties, has been given to the National Trust and will be planted in orchards at Montacute House, Barrington Court, Tyntesfield and Glastonbury in Somerset, Golden Cap in Dorset, Westbury Court Garden in Gloucestershire, Killerton in Devon and Brockhampton in Herefordshire. Continue reading…

The summer rain adds some sparkle to Killerton cider

Pictures by Steven Haywood of Killerton's apples for Apple Week celebrations on 17th & 18th October at Killerton - Pictured is Emma Wakeham and Killerton's latest edition to the team 'Puppy springer spaniel TOBY! having fun in the orchard

Pictures by Steven Haywood of Killerton’s apples for Apple Week celebrations on 17th & 18th October at Killerton – Pictured is Emma Wakeham and Killerton’s latest edition to the team ‘Puppy springer spaniel Toby having fun in the orchard

August was a rainy month for tourists and locals but there was one upside to the downpours however; the wet weather has made for a bumper crop of apples in the National Trust orchards at Killerton and the trees are heavy with fruit ready to be made into cider.

2014 was a memorable summer, but an apple crop to forget, producing only 3,000 litres of cider. But this year the trees are so full that the National Trust hopes to double its production.

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Gold ‘Visit Devon Tourism Award’ for Killerton

Killerton Estate was delighted to be awarded Gold at the prestigious Visit Devon Tourism Awards last night (Wednesday 23 Nov) held at Sandy Park.

The black tie event was attended by General Manager, Phillip Smart who collected the Gold for Killerton’s estate produce, comprising estate cider, orchard honey, apple chutney.

‘Our estate produce are all “truly local, National Trust products” says General Manager Phillip Smart.  ‘We are proud of our local produce at Killerton. For instance, the grain is grown, the flour milled and the bread is baked for the tea-room all on the estate. In fact we genuinely deal in food metres here, rather than food miles’.

Revenue from the sale of Killerton estate produce contributes towards the conservation and upkeep of the historical National Trust estate. “Winning the Gold is fantastic reward for all the hard work from staff and volunteers that goes into picking apples, burning charcoal, pressing juice, not forgetting our visitors who buy our products and support our cause” added Area Warden Ed Nicholson, “This award is a good benchmark for our produce and it’s great to receive recognition for our hard work.”

First launched in 2010, the Devon Tourism Awards received a record number of entries this year. Judging is carried out through a combination of scoring, mystery visits and web searches.

Listening in the orchards

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.

Talking Trees

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