The cooling air, the colours creeping into the foliage… these are all signs that it’s autumn. And the fragrant aromas and flavours of this ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ remind us that it’s also cider time!
So what better way to champion this time of year than to pop along to one of our top cider farm picks in England?
All of them are worth a visit, all have vast knowledge of all things apple – and all are within a few miles of a cosy holiday cottage!
So why not celebrate the apple from orchard to glass and work a cider tour into your next Staycation holiday?
Butford Organics, Herefordshire
© Butford Organics
This family-owned smallholding is certified as organic by the Soil Association and produces award-winning cider and perries with as little intervention as possible. Sticking to the principle that ‘nature knows best’, Butfords only use freshly pressed juices fermented with wild yeasts. Visitors are welcome to walk around the orchards all year round and, with prior arrangement, have a more formal tour. Cider tours are most popular during the autumn months when cider and perry making is underway. Or why not try one of their popular cider-making courses?
Find out more: Butford Organics, Butford Farm, Bowley Lane, Bodenham HR1 3LG. butfordorganics.co.uk
Make a break of it: Why not treat your palate to a ‘Taste of Herefordshire’ with a stay at Hampton Wafre Cottage, just 10 minutes away.
Green Valley Cyder Works, Devon
From top left: Green Valley Cyder; Elliotts House, Burrows; Harvest Moon
Green Valley Cyder is located at the very popular Darts Farm, one of the top foodie destinations for visitors to Devon. They are known nationally for their award-winning Devon cider which they make on site using an 80-year-old cider press. Pop in and see the press in action in autumn and enjoy a free tasting in the Cider House and Ale Barn, recognised as the Best Independent Cider Shop in the UK twice in 2014 and 2016. It’s just one part of the multi award-winning Darts Farm Shopping Village, where you can also get closer to nature through bird-watching, fishing, exploring the farm on foot or cycling the nearby Exe Trail.
Find out more: Green Valley Cyder, Darts Farm, Clyst St. George, Exeter EX3 0QH. www.greenvalleycyder.co.uk
Make a break of it: Our East Devon holiday cottages are 20-30 minutes’ drive away. And, as you’d expect from Staycation Holidays, the gorgeous cottages are in apple-pie order! You can even chill at Elliotts House, a superb detached Grade II listed conversion of an original Apple Mill, where cider used to be made and apples stored for the farm!
Thatchers Cider, Somerset
© Thatchers Cider
Somerset is cider’s spiritual home county and, at Myrtle Farm in Sandford, you’ll find Thatchers, a family firm with over 100 years of cider-making heritage. This award-winning business also offers guided tours of their orchards and mill where visitors can witness the magic that turns apples into cider. The historic Strawberry Line foot- and cycle- path meanders through the cider orchards. After a delightful ramble, why not pop into the Cider Shop and pick up some scrumptious amber nectar fresh from the source! Or relax in Thatchers’ pub, The Railway Inn, and enjoy a taste of this refreshing drink from one of Britain’s best cider manufacturers.
Find out more: Thatchers Cider, Myrtle Farm, Station Rd, Sandford, Winscombe BS25 5RA. www.thatcherscider.co.uk
Make a break of it: Pamper your taste buds with a stay at our North Somerset Holiday Cottages, just 10-15 minutes’ drive away. We’ll drink to that!
Burrow Hill Cider Farm, Somerset
© Somerset Cider Brandy Company
This traditional cider farm and distillery run by Julian Temperley has been pressing cider for over 150 years and distilling cider into brandy since 1989. Visit the artisan cider makers between the end of September until Christmas and you’ll see piles of apples as they prepare for cider production. There’s plenty to explore at the farm. Walk the trail through 150 acres of orchards and you’ll find out about the 40 different varieties of cider apples as well as other interesting features. A trip wouldn’t be complete without a climb to the top of Burrow Hill for incredible views of the Somerset Levels. On a good day, you can see as far as Glastonbury Tor. Followed, of course, by sampling some refreshing cider and Somerset Cider Brandy among the oak vats, barrels and presses in the Cider House. Have a peek too at the two rather tall ‘ladies’, the copper stills named Josephine and Fifi in the distillery.
Find out more: Somerset Cider Brandy Company, Pass Vale Farm, Burrow Hill, Kingsbury Episcopi, Martock TA12 6BU. www.ciderbrandy.co.uk
Make a break of it: Lovely thatched Plough Cottage is our perfect romantic rural bolthole for couples who wish to explore this lovely part of the country, just 20 minutes drive away.
Westons Cider, Herefordshire
Westons has been putting Herefordshire’s famous apples to good use by creating delicious ciders and perries since 1880. This delightful mill and farmhouse is also a dream destination for lovers of the tipple. Their special visitor centre and cider tours offer a real insight into large-scale cider making processes with a selection of lip-smacking samples. Tours during their harvest period, from September through to December, are of particular interest and give visitors a chance to see the complete process from orchard to glass. Cycling and cider make a great combination too – the 20 mile Ledbury Cider Route takes in some of the county’s finest cider makers, including Westons, and guides you along the quiet lanes of one of England’s best cider-producing areas.
Find out more: Westons Cider Mill, The Bounds, Much Marcle, Ledbury HR8 2NQ. www.westons-cider.co.uk
Make a break of it: Why not make Hampton Wafre Cottage your harvest home? Situated on a working arable farm in peaceful surroundings, our beautiful cottage is just 30 minutes’ drive from Westons Cider.
Cider Tours in Kent
Top right: Larkin Farmhouse. Bottom from left: Larkin Oast; Larkin Cart
We cannot write a blog post on cider without mentioning Kent! This county is renowned for fabulous beer and wine – see our blog posts on vineyard and brewery tours if that’s your bag! But, this being the Garden of England, there are also apples aplenty here and Kent produces a range of deliciously crisp ciders, best enjoyed in autumn during the apple harvest. The Kent Cider Company make award-winning Craft Cider from their Heritage Cider orchards in Faversham. Or, for cider tours and tastings, why not stroll through the beautiful vineyards and apple orchards at Hush Heath, Chapel Down or Biddenden, all of who press fresh fruity ciders?
Find out more: Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst TN12 0HT. hushheath.com; Chapel Down Winery, Small Hythe, Tenterden TN30 7NG. www.chapeldown.com; Biddenden Vineyards, Gribble Bridge Lane, Biddenden TN27 8DF. biddendenvineyards.com.
Make a break of it: Cider lovers staying at our five star ‘Darling Buds of May' Larkin holiday cottages in Bethersden will find themselves surrounded by variety of cider tours and tastings. They’re just 15 to 30 minutes’ drive away.
Torre Cider Farm, Somerset
From top left: Torre Cider Farm by Des Blenkinsopp; West Hollowcombe Cottages
Why not spend a few hours at Torre Cider Farm, set in the beautiful countryside of Washford. The farm has been producing traditional scrumpy for over 20 years, and visitors (and their pet pooches) are free to wander throughout the six-acre orchard and get an up-close view of the various equipment used to make cider. In the autumn witness the process of turning the special apples into delicious cider in the old pressing room. Kids will love the play area and visiting the farm’s pigs, sheep, chickens and ducks. Then step into the tearoom for a glass of cider and a proper afternoon tea for a well-earned treat.
Find out more: Torre Cider Co Ltd, Washford TA23 0LA. www.torrecider.co.uk
Make a break of it: West Hollowcombe Cottages, our ‘antidote to frantic’, are nestled in Exmoor countryside a short drive away.