When the summer holidays end, the schools return and winter is around the corner, there are still plenty of big, little and lovely adventures still to be had. Discover the best places to pick apples across Dorset and why it is prime apple picking time.
It’s time to get cosy. A couple of different storms have blown in and Autumn has shrugged on its plaid coats and stepped into its welly boots as Summer shrugged off its wetsuits, sun cream and flip flops for another year. Leaves are turning from green to copper, to reds, and burnt oranges, golds and browns. Spiders are sneaking back indoors and weaving webs in the gardens that stay shimmering like crowns of crystals with the wet morning dew. The Autumn equinox has been and Halloween has yet to come. So, what to do with these inbetween days of slightly warm, slightly chilly, sometimes sunny, sometimes wet, wild and muddy? Well, there is one sweet treat to be had and a wholesome adventure yet to be taken – apple picking.
Apples are some of the best growing fruit in the UK. In fact, wild apples have been growing in Britain since the end of the last ice age. These wild apples grew small, hard, sour fruits that were used for feeding pigs and making a type of sharp vinegar. Domestic apples arrived in Britain around 2000 years ago. We have a long standing relationship with the fruit and according to writer Philip Strange, “Dorset was the first county to make cider; influenced by monks from northern France settling near Bridport before the Norman Conquest.” Landscapes have changed over the centuries and Dorset remained on a smaller scale with its cider productions, mostly using family recipes. According to Great British Wildlife org, “back in 1796, Dorset had 10,000 acres of cider apple orchards, but these fell into decline over the next 200 years.Recently, there has been a huge resurgence of interest in traditional local cider apples, and across the county new orchards have been planted to supply Dorset’s burgeoning cider industry.” This has allowed a lot of local wildlife to thrive, as well as create delicious apples for us to eat, bake and drink! Consequently, Dorset is the ideal place to come and pick apples or book a tour of a cider farm. These can make great family days out in Dorset as well as provide a great day for just grownups too. You can really immerse yourself in the sights, scents and beauty of apple picking in Dorset.
Apple picking season takes place during early autumn forms September through October. Depending on the weather over the summer, the exact dates that some orchards collect their apples will vary. Typically September is prime picking month. Many however, will still be collecting apples for you to pick and will run cider tasting tours throughout October. So, before bobbing for apples this Halloween, discover where you can pick them.
Apple Picking at Kingston Lacy
From the 30th of September – the 3td of October visit this breathtakingly beautiful National Trust property to pick apples. Recent storms mean that some of the apples have now become windfall but there are still plenty to pick and even more to see and explore. Meet the volunteers in the kitchen gardens and help gather their crops for harvest. Just throw on your wellies and have a beautiful, autumnal experience. Click the following link to discover more about apple picking at Kingston Lacy.
Apple Pressing Family Day at Kingcombe
This family fun day out at Kingcombe visitor centre invites families to join them for a day of apple pressing for a day, this October half term. Spend the afternoon pressing apples to make juice, using the home grown apples from their beautiful orchard. Adults go free and you need only to purchase tickets for the children in your party. Find out more and book your tickets at this link.
Cider Tour and Tasting at Dorset Nectar
This award winning organically managed apple orchard is found on a spectacular West Dorset farm. The cider farm features around 3,000 mature apple trees, including 15 heritage varieties. Enjoy a tour that will explore harvesting techniques and teach you about the magical history and folklore of cider making. Finish the tour by tasting and sampling of their delicious award winning ciders. Tours run from every Thursday through to Saturday, so book your tour and tasting here.
Visit Dorset Cider Farm in Purbeck Valley
Dorset Cider Farm is hidden away in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck. In fact, Dorset Cider Farm is just a 4 minute drive away from Dorset Adventure Park! The farm is nestled against the beautiful Purbeck woodlands that also hug the adventure park and their orchards produce a delicious range of Purbeck cider. This idyllic spot invites you to enjoy their award winning cider in their new tap room, take home your Purbeck purchases from their farm shop or enjoy your warming tipple under the orchard trees that you are free to roam or rest amongst. Open from Wednesdays through to Saturdays during the Autumn months of September – December. The farm will be open for daily visits during the October half term. Click on the link to discover more about Dorset Adventure Park’s apple growing neighbours, the Dorset Cider Farm.
Dorset Adventure Park may have closed its gates for the season, the lakes left undisturbed until you splash into them next spring and the mud trail left to get muddier and challenge you next year. However, we hope you keep having plenty of adventurous days out until we welcome you back again next May.
Until then, we recommend you comfort yourself by picking and sipping on apples and making delicious apple pies. We recommend this classic recipe by Delia Smith, found through this link at Delia Online. Alternatively, if you fancy an Autumn treat to comfort you in our absence, then follow the link for the absolutely delicious sounding recipe from Country Living, for Honey-Apple Baked Brie. Enjoy!
Words by Olivia Lowry