Orchards, Trees & Orchard Produce
Cumberland & Westmorland information
Where to Get Help
The Woodlands Officer at East Cumbria Countryside Project, Warwick Mill, Warwick Bridge, Carlisle CA4 8RR, 01228 561601,eccp[at]carlisle-city.gov.uk can advise on orchards including Environmental Stewardship but no grants are available.
Orchard Link Cumbria is a network of orchard owners and people interested in orchards, able to give general advice on orchard management and planting. Contact Dick Palmer, Bush Green, Foxfield Road, Broughton in Furness LA20 6EZ tel +44(0)1229 716724 or email dick.palmer[at]tiscali.co.uk. Dick is also the contact for the Community Apple Press Association in Broughton in Furness who hire out their mobile apple press.
South Lakeland Orchard Group, Brian Fereday, 3 Fellsize Cottages, Sizergh, Kendal, Cumbria LA8 8DZ fulmus [at] aol.com
Community Orchards and orchards to visit
Acorn Bank Garden & Watermill, Temple Sowerby, nr Penrith CA10 1SP . National Trust property which contains a mature orchard with apples, pears, quince, plums, damsons, mulberries, morello cherries and medlars. Another is being planted with northern varieties with the help of the Northern Fruit Group. +44(0)17683 61893.
Brantwood, Coniston. Home to John Ruskin from 1871. House and Gardens open, orchard planted in memory of Ruskin and his love of apple blossom. Also has trained apple trees in the walled garden. The apples, including Keswick Codlin, are used in the restaurant, and to make Brantwood jam and juice, sold in the shop along with the apples themselves. The shop is open to the public, and there is a small charge to visit the house and gardens. There is an orchard trail in late September (when the apples ripen) every year to celebrate Apple Day. Call +44(0)1539 441396 or see the web-site.
Sizergh Castle Garden (National Trust), Sizergh, nr Kendal LA8 8EA. Has an orchard of established fruit trees which is being supplemented by northern varieties with the help of the Northen Fruit Group. +44(0)15395 60070.
Grange Community Orchard, Grange-over-Sands. Set up in 1998 by South Lakeland District Council on land owned by themselves following an idea put to them by Grange Town Clerk, Mr F Brooks in 1992. The orchard was planted by SLDC with help from local school children and adults. 28 apple varieties, plus cherry, quince, medlar, damsons, and hazel were planted. Since then, maintenance has been carried out by Council workers. This has consisted mainly of grass cutting, and community involvement was not encouraged. Malcolm Davison of the Northern Fruit Group found the orchard trees to be somewhat neglected in 2001 and raised the profile of the orchard including holding an Apple Day event in 2002. I, 2003 it is hoped that Grange Civic Society will form an orchard group and enter into a contract with the District Council to maintain the trees in the future. A John Huggett apple tree is to be planted, a variety developed in Grange itself. Malcolm Davison, Eversley Farmhouse, Leasgill, Milnthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7EX, or email: m.davison [at] btinternet.com
Where to buy apples and orchard produce
Lyth Valley Farm Shop sells damsons from mid-September for about 3 weeks. The Westmorland Damson Association website lists local growers and makers of damson produce, and shows there location on a map. The website also has details of publications including Victoria Barratt's recipe book 'A Taste of Damsons: from Jelly to Gin' (left).
The Apple Orchard Juice Co. The Lodge, Burton Road, Natland, Kendal, +44(0)1539 722276. Sweet, medium and dry blended apple juices, using apples from Cumberland and Westmorland where possible, even sourcing from gardens in the county. See www.theappleorchardjuicecompany.co.uk
Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, Cartmell Fell, Grange over Sands - produces and sells damson flavoured beer. +44(0)15395 68486.
Barrett & Keegan, Cowmire Hall, Crosthwaite, Kendal LA8 8JJ - their Damson Gin is available from local shops. +44(0)15395 682000.
Staff of Life, 2 Berrys Yard, off Finkle Street, Kendal LA9 4AB, +44(0)1539 738606. Produce bread using flours from a local restored watermill, including a damson sourdough using the fermented yeast of the fruit, sourced from the Lyth Valley. Also just for Damson Day each year a bread with pureed damsons. Visit the bakery from 8am, open until the bread sell out.
Local food information: Windermere Directory of Local Food, Contact Eleanor Thorpe +44(0)1539 447299; Lancashire & Cumbria Fine Food Trail from North West Fine Foods Ltd +44(0)1257 226206; Made in Cumbria, contact +44(0)1539 732736 or look at their web-site.
Damson & Apple Tansy - damsons and apples cooked in an egg custard; Cumberland Rum Nicky - double crust mincemeat, apple and rum tart; Westmorland Plum Chutney; Pickled damsons have been associated with Westmorland for at least 150 years and are made with damsons cooked with vinegar, sugar and spices. The kernels from the stones are sometimes added to give an almond-like flavour.
Read A Taste of Damsons by Victoria Barratt for the Westmorland Damson Association for mouth-watering damson recipes. The photograph of damsons above comes from this book.