The Big Apple Harvest Time, Much Marcle, Herefordshire
If there is a cider capital of the UK it’s arguably Herefordshire, where the rolling hills are covered with orchards. The Big Apple is an association of orchards in the region and their harvest festival takes place at nine locations around the town (9-10 October). A free tractor and trailer service, provided by Weston’s Cider, takes visitors between six of the sites, including organic orchards, small-scale cider producers and Hellens Manor – a country estate and gardens offering hands-on pressing activities and morris dancing. Pop into the Much Marcle Memorial Hall for a cup of apple tea, and stay at the Seven Stars in nearby Ledbury, a cosy pub with comfortable rooms.
Doubles from £99 B&B, sevenstarsledbury.co.uk; bigapple.co.uk
Rosemoor Apple Weekend, Devon
This is the 30th anniversary of Rosemoor’s Apple Festival, held on 3 October, when the RHS-owned garden brings together tastings, talks, demonstrations and guided walks – all of which are apple-themed. A team of experts will also be on hand to help identify any of your homegrown unknown apple varieties, while the Taste of Autumn Food Fair will ensure there’s no chance of visitors going hungry
Apple Day at Day’s Cottage, Gloucestershire
Day’s Cottage is an award-winning apple juice, cider and perry producer, situated on a family farm. It’s dedicated to making pure juices from unsprayed orchards and rare varieties. Its Apple Day (23 October) includes apple-themed games for kids, beekeeping and spoon-carving demonstrations, along with live music and homemade cakes to accompany the juices, served in the farm’s traditional yurt. Finish the day with a stay at the charming Court House Manor, a beautiful 17th-century house in pretty Painswick village.
Doubles from £116 B&B, courthousemanor.co.uk; dayscottage.co.uk
Apple Day Weekend at the Newt, Somerset
Home to 65 acres of legacy orchards, including 70 varieties of apple, the Newt – a working estate with a luxurious hotel in an elegant Georgian farmhouse – celebrates its harvest with an activity-packed Apple Day Weekend (23-24 October). Tractor tours, talks, apple-themed games and menus are all on offer, with live music and DJs to get the party going – and the chance for visitors to bring their own apples to be pressed. Alongside the juices, there will be the chance to try the Newt’s new Ice Cyder, made from dessert apples that have been pressed, frozen and slowly thawed to create a rich, concentrated flavour. Apple Day is free for members of the Newt.
Membership is £48 per year and gives unlimited access to the gardens, woodland and deer park, free entry for children and an annual programme of workshops and events; thenewtinsomerset.com
Apple Tasting Day, Blackmoor Estate, Hampshire
A family-run farm in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, Blackmoor’s Apple Day (10 October) is a celebration of the different varieties grown on the estate’s orchards. Visitors can taste traditional apples, such as Cox’s Orange Pippins and Norfolk Royal Russet, as well as newer varieties. Fruit trees and plants will be on sale, alongside local produce stalls, tea, cake and plenty of cider. Experts will be on hand to offer advice and identify mystery apples, and morris dancing and rural craft stalls create the feel of a classic country fete.
Harvest Time at Killerton, Devon
Now is the perfect time to visit this glorious Devonshire estate, famous for the rolling gardens that surround the elegant 17th-century house, kept as it would have been in the 1920s and 30s. Outside, visitors can stroll through the orchards – home to more than 100 varieties of apple, including the curiously named Slack-ma-Girdle and Hangy Down – and pick up some of the estate’s own cider in the shop or sample it in the café. Stay at Killerton Park Cottage, a delightful National Trust-owned house on the estate, sleeping up to five.
Three night breaks from £344, nationaltrust.org.uk
Apple Harvest at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton
There are more than 50 varieties of apple to be found in Wightwick’s orchards, with many dating back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. On Apple Harvest weekend (23-24 October) visitors can taste and buy freshly picked eaters, cookers and cider apples and take a stroll through the orchard, as well as seeing Wightwick’s extraordinary multi-variety apple tree, created by grafting 12 different varieties on to one tree.
Apple Week, Llanerchaeron, Mid-Wales
The graceful Georgian villa in Llanerchaeron is surrounded by walled gardens that are home to ancient espaliered apple trees that burst with fruit from September onwards. Apple Week is held today (3 October, as well as 6-10 October) and is ideal for families. There are trails and self-led activities for children, including the chance to create apple bird feeders, along with displays of the different varieties of apples grown in the orchards. There are also bags of fruit to buy and take home. Combine country pleasures with a stay at the seaside, try the lovely Harbourmaster Cottage in Aberaeron.
Doubles from £280 B&B, harbour- master.com; nationaltrust.org.uk
The Orchard Garden, Newby Hall, North Yorkshire
Newby Hall near Ripon is aThis is a gorgeous Georgian home set in 25 acres of award-winning gardens, dating back to the 20s dating back to the early 1920s. Wander among the apple trees in the unique Orchard Garden, full of quince and apple trees including crab apples too (‘Red Sentinel’), many of which are at their most beautiful in autumn. Make a weekend of it with a night at the nearby Crown Inn, a comfy pub in the village of Roeclfiffe.
Doubles from £99, thecrowninnroecliffe.co.uk; newbyhall.com
Heritage Orchard Days, Brogdale, Kent
Home of the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale boasts the most diverse apple orchards in the country, with varieties from all over the world and from almost every county in the UK. On Heritage Orchard Days (16-17 October) you can pick your own (every ticket includes a 2kg bag), try traditional juice pressing and sample local ciders, or join a tour of the National Collection. Keep the foodie theme going with a stay at Reads Rooms in nearby Faversham, a restaurant with rooms in an elegant Georgian manor house that’s home to some of Kent’s best cooking.
Doubles £210 B&B, reads.com; brogdalecollections.org
Orchards and ciders for you to get a real taste of apple life
North Perrott Fruit Farm, Crewkerne, Somerset The North Perrott orchards have been tended by three generations of the same family. They produce more than 30 varieties of apple juice and offer personalised juices for special occasions (parrettbrand.co.uk).
Wildpress Wildpress launched this year with a focus on rare and disappearing varieties of apple, and small, traditional orchards. Mixed cases and individual bottles of the Mellow Rebel and the Crab from Kent are available (wildpressjuice.com).
Wobblegate Orchards, Sussex The wonderfully named Wobblegate began in the 1990s as a father and son team on the family farm and now produces award-winning juices and ciders. Juices include apple and raspberry, and apple and pear, with heritage juice also available (wobblegate.co.uk).
Heron Valley, Devon Organic and sustainable, Heron Valley produces artisan apple juices, alongside unpasteurised apple cider vinegar and sulphite-free ciders. Choose from fizzy or still, sharp or sweet apple, or fired up with ginger root (heronvalley.co.uk).
Hallets Real Cider This very fine, lightly sparkling medium cider from Caerphilly in south Wales blends a bit of oak-aged cider with young cider from the latest harvest. It’s aromatically complex, pure, racy (£36 for 12 50cl, 6% abv, halletsrealcider.co.uk).
Welsh Farmhouse Awarded the Royal Warrant in 2015, Welsh Farmhouse produce more than 20 varieties of apple juice, many made from heritage varieties. The farm also presses apples from Highgrove, and sells them as “Royal Juices” (welshfarmhouseltd.co.uk).
Little Pomona Table Cider James and Susanna Forbes both had careers in the wine trade before setting up their natural cider farm in Herefordshire, and that experience informs this fabulously succulent, fragrant, easy-drinking delight. (£9.50 for 75cl, littlepomona.com).
Pilton Cider The parish of Pilton in Somerset may be best known for a certain festival, but few ciders consumed at the Eavis’s event over the years could match up to this gently sweet, but beautifully balanced, racy crisp bottling (£8.49, 75cl, 5% abv, piltoncider.com).
Aspall Imperial Vintage Suffolk Cyder A favourite from longstanding Suffolk cider makers and fruit farmers Aspall’s portfolio, this is a decadently rich cider with flavours of caramelised tarte tatin balanced by a quiver of bright acidity (£2.50, 8.2% abv, aspall.co.uk).
Nightingale Falstaff Bramley A Kentish cider that combines a tangfastic Bramley cooking apple sourness with an almost floral easy sweetness in a superbly drinkable and maximum thirst-quenching package.. (£25 for 12 x 50cl, 5.4% abv, nightingalecider.com).