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Cider Month in the West Country

  • by JW

The historic woodland and orchard sites of Devon.

Fruit trees as integral to modern farming practice.


This is Tree Week – and as part of that, Ed Dolphin of the Sidmouth Arboretum looked at the ancient woodland of Devon and the Sid Valley:

Tree Week 2022: Our Ancient Woodland | Sidmouth Science Festival

In the course of his talk, he mentioned that much of the historic ‘woodland’ in the Valley was in fact orchard – which produced large amounts of cider, especially for the county’s seafaring folk, but also farm labourers:

A (Brief) History of Cider in the UK – The Orchard Project

As the county council says:

Historic woodland and orchard sites across Devon are shown on late C19th Ordnance Survey and former orchards are identified on the Devon HLC.

Trees, woodland and orchards – Historic environment

It just so happens that CAMRA has declared May ‘Cider Month’:

The month of May was chosen because it is when the orchards come into bloom and fruit begins to set which will then be harvested. It is when cider and perry production in the previous year reaches maturity and can start being enjoyed. It is also a time for celebration of the fruits of cider makers labour!

Cider and Perry Months – CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale

And there are indeed some beautiful apple (and just a bit earlier, pear) trees in bloom in the Valley – as with this snap taken near the Higher Coombe Farm B and B at Tipton St John:

Higher Coombe Farm-Sidmouth Updated 2022 Room Price-Reviews & Deals |

There are also the apple trees of the Knapp Nature Reserve – as celebrated in this piece from 2011, the year the Sidmouth Arboretum was established:

Sidmouth orchard small but productive | Sidmouth Herald

Meanwhile, the Town Council is committed to planting more apple trees:

Celebrating apples – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And there is a trend to seeing fruit trees as integral to modern farming practice:

Food forests and forest gardens – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Finally, a piece from last May takes us to the Tamar Valley:

Country diary: copious apple blossom is at its best, but short-lived | Trees and forests | The Guardian