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Apples and Orchards of Cumbria
Apples and Orchards of Cumbria
This book is a comprehensive review of Cumbrian apple varieties and of Cumbrian orchards open to the public complied by the Cumbrian orchard groups (SLOG and NCOG).
These organisations are voluntary community groups whose objectives are to conserve, maintain and renovate existing fruit orchards and encourage the planting of new orchards in the county recognising the importance of biodiversity and the preservation of old local varieties of fruit. They do this by organising talks and orchard visits, running workshops to teach orchard skills such as pruning, grafting and budding, and attending shows to offer advice to the general public and raise funds by selling fruit trees and publications about fruit. At harvest time they run community fruit pressing days, hire out fruit presses to members and attend Apple Days to identify apples and offer advice.
Paperback; 210 x 149mm
107 colour images
Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
The Apples and Orchards of Cumbria by Andy Gilchrist. Hayloft. £9.00
“Flesh soft white, juicy, sharp and fruity”, such is the Carlisle
Codlin, and in two years time it will be two hundred years old. The
Keswick Codlin is even older. It was first found growing on a rubbish
heap at Gleaston castle, near Ulverston, in the eighteenth century. Its
flesh is “soft, rather coarse-textured, somewhat dry and acid”. After
it was introduced by John Sander, a nurseryman from Keswick, it became
one of the most popular of nineteenth century cooking apples. It’s a
prolific cropper and it cooks to a juicy cram puree.
The Carlisle and Keswick Codlins are just two of the types of apple
which originated in the counties which now form Cumbria. There are
perhaps nineteen varieties to which we can lay claim.
The oddly named Forty Shilling is another double centenarian. Hailing
from Thursby, it comes from a vigorous tree, which does well in “high,
wet and cold regions”. It’s a dessert apple, best eaten in September
and October and has a rich sweet-savoury flavour.
Another Keswick cooker is Greenup’s Pippin. It took its name from the
town’s shoemaker and was popular throughout the Borders in the
nineteenth century. This yellow/green apple with a bright red flush was
such a great favourite that it attracted many alternative names, such
as Green Rolland, Red Hawthornden, Yorkshire Beauty and,
understandably, Cumberland Favourite.
Some apples are not so fortunate in their names. A beautiful dark red
apple, which tastes as sharp and juicy as it looks, is known as
Rankthorn, after the wood in Cartmell Fell, where it was found a
hundred years ago.
Other names are misleading. Lemon Square is, in fact an apple, and,
although not possessing that perfect round apple shape, it is very far
from being square. Wheaten Loaves and Churn Lid look and taste just as
appley as every other apple. Nelson’s Favourite was named after a local
preacher down in Kendal.
Cumbria is not famous for its apples. The great commercial orchards are
in the south of the country, in Kent and Somerset and Devon, but there
has been a long tradition of growing apples. Place names like Appleby
and Applethwaite show that apples were grown here many centuries ago.
The orchard at Acorn Bank cultivates over a hundred varieties of apple,
including many of the Cumbrian varieties, so, it is no wonder, that
they celebrate a special apple day every October.
The orchard at Brantwood has a smaller number of trees, but its orchard
management is based on biodynamic principles: “A descending lunar
rhythm is supposed to make sap flow less active, accordingly winter
pruning is carried out during such periods.”
In Dalemain, many of the house’s thirty different heritage varieties
are to be found on the trees, which line the apple walk. The old trees
at Hutton in the Forest produce abundant apples, which are stored “in
single layers on paper over wooden trays to Christmas provided the mice
don’t get them first.”
Altogether, Andy Gilchrist describes twenty Cumbrian orchards, large
and small, that are open to the public. They are places where pleasure
can be derived from the blossom as well as the fruit.
This little book is a guide, providing lists of apple varieties and
orchards with useful descriptive details. The pictures, mouth-watering
photographs of the apples in their burnished skins, or sliced cleanly
in half to reveal the fresh flesh, make it a pleasure to read.
Andy Gilchrist is a retired agronomist, but he has retained his
enthusiasm for the apple and has planted his own orchard of fifty
The Apples and Orchards of Cumbria is available from Bookends, 56
Castle Street, Carlisle, and 66 Main Street, Keswick, and from
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