The story –
Old records show that our farmhouse, along with many in the county, had a small orchard close to the house to supply the needs of the occupants. In the 20th century these orchards disappeared as farms specialised and shop-bought fruit became more prevalent. We started planting the new orchard in 2007 with a view to showing that apples could be successfully grown here and, furthermore, that cider apples were especially suited to the Cumbrian environment. While there have been some failures and yields are not as high as in milder areas, the long summer days and cooler conditions result in more intensely flavoured apples.
Read about the trials and tribulations of fellside fruit growing here :- how-not-to-grow-fruit-trees
The apples –
The orchard has about forty different varieties of apples (and a few pears and plums). This diversity is intentional and creates a broad base from which cider can be crafted. The apples fall into three main groups:
- Bittersweet and bittersharp varieties, traditionally grown in the West Country, which are high in tannins and add body to the cider.
- Sharp varieties and cooking apples, which balance the bitter apples.
- Dessert varieties, particularly various russet apples, which add additional flavour notes.