Celebrate rural Kent with apple days and hop harvest celebrations. By Angela Cole
Apples and orchards are synonymous with the Kentish countryside and for many of the county’s National Trust properties harvest time is the perfect time to share knowledge of caring for orchards and apples.
The National Trust kicks off its harvest days across the county and the south east this weekend, when visitors can try apple pressing, tasting sweet treats or picking up items with apple goodness to take home. The first this weekend is at Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst which is the National Trust’s one and only hop farm. As part of its Hops and Honey Weekend ,you can join a guided hop walk, which will show you how hops are grown, how they’re picked and their drying and packaging ready to be sent to the Westerham brewery.
The weekend on Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9, between 10am and 4pm has walks at 11am and 2pm At Smallhythe Place in Tenterden, Orchard Day comes on Saturday, September 15, between 11am and 4pm.
Visitors can explore the garden, traditional orchard and nuttery on the day and sample produce from the property, and peruse stalls with local produce. From fresh produce straight from the trees, to plants, tasty treats and garden gifts, the day out will help the family get back to nature.
The event is free with normal admission costs.
On Saturday, September 29, Ightham Mote will hold its Apple and Orchard Day between 11am and 4pm. The orchard at Ightham Mote is home to a variety of heritage apple trees, which you can try before you buy
A SWEET TREAT: HONEY & HOPS
Nothing is more synonymous with the Kent countryside than oast houses and the annual hops harvest and at Scotney Castle estate in Lamberhurst it’s extra special, as it still has a fully working hop farm, still producing hops to make ale.
The Hops and Honey Weekend has stalls, a hog roast and, to wash it down, local ale from Westerham Brewery. Besides tours of the farm and seeing the hop harvest there’s a chance to meet beekeepers and try local honey from Brays Bees and Owlets, in Lamberhurst; beeswax candles, polish, honey soap and other sweet treats.
Also on show will be the Hopping Down and Family of Hop Pickers sculptures by Simon Conolly, showing hop pickers and hop picking in the area from days gone by, which will be in the garden until December. to take home. Along with the apples from the orchard, there will be a mini-market featuring a number of stalls with themed local products, and of course, plenty of apple-based dishes on offer in the tea room. The event is free with normal admission costs.
Just over the border, Bateman’s in East Sussex holds its Apple Day on Sunday, October 14, between 11am and 4pm.
You can explore the orchards, sample the different varieties of apples grown there and have a go at making apple juice with the homemade apple mill and press.
Tasty orchard produce on offer includes warming mulled cider, jams, honey, chutneys and apples, plus you can meet the beekeepers and learn how the bees and the orchard work together to produce the autumn harvest.
The free event with normal admission costs also features games to play and orchard crafts.
Nearby, Monks House in East Sussex holds its Apple Day on Saturday, October 6, between 12.30pm and 5pm.
There will be apple pressing and applethemed games throughout the afternoon. The trust is a conservation charity which is entirely independent of the government, and looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information on the National Trust’s work and more days out go to nationaltrust.org.uk or like the Facebook page at facebook.com/nationaltrust
Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst has the National Trust’s only working hop farm in the country
The National Trust’s Apple Days give visitors some hands-on activities to learn about rural life and more about Kent’s harvest time
See Simon Conolly’s hop pickers sculptures