The Big Apple is closer than you think
Why not, as a true Devonian, try this – saunter into your nearest supermarket and ask if they have any Tang Harvey's, Pig’s Noses or if you're feeling brave a kilo of Slack - Ma - Girdle’s. Maybe not, they would probably call security.
These strangely named grocery items are the lost cider apples of Devon. Well, not completely lost, you will be pleased to know. Devon, and some claim Stoke Gabriel, was once the cider making capital of Britain. Cider is part of the Devon fabric and was probably first made in the Cider House at Buckfast Abbey in the 13th century. Brought over during the Norman conquest, the basic rough techniques that existed, were finessed and haven’t changed much since. Still made on a near artisan basis across Devon, it lives on.
Ye Olde Cider Bar on East street in Newton Abbot sells Winkleigh Cider straight from the barrel, and a visit is like stepping back in time. It has just been awarded best Cider House in Britain by CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) and is thought to be one of the last four specialist cider houses in the UK. Just pop in and get a glass (no beer or spirits as it doesn’t have a license!) and look at the amazing social history on the walls.
Once a week the Cork Club meets at the Long Bar, with the aim of raising funds for an annual outing. Each member carries a cork bound in a brass cylinder, upon which is stamped their number. Failure to produce their cork on-demand results in a fine, laughter, and more funds for the summer trip - much the same as when the Club started in 1912.
Though the orchards across South Devon have mostly disappeared, there are still glimmers of our apple heritage alive and kicking. Hunts Cider Farm is 400 acres running from Stoke Gabriel to Paignton. The cider is pressed, fermented and packaged in their purpose built cider cellar. Dating back to 1805, Hunts popularity continues, as they press upwards of 150,000 litres a year to create traditional ciders like Andsome Bay and Barn Screecher, as well as the on-trend berry flavours like Red Head (Strawberry) and Pixie Juice (Blackcurrant).
The humble apple also lives on in our local fairs and fetes, as harvest related festivals thrive. From July with Apple Pie Fair in Marldon (trust us, this is one for your July 2018 diary!) to the end of October with Cockington’s Apple Day in the autumnal heart of Torquay.
Cockington Apple Day (Sunday 15 October, 10am-4pm) is free entry with something for all the family. The traditional cider press will be in full swing, alongside live music from local bands, delicious food and drink (think Lemon Jelli, The Pig Apple and Grandpa Franks to name but a few), apple-themed crafting, and a kids area with creative activities and entertainment. The Big Apple is right here and thriving in the Bay.
Credit: Image Valeria Boltneva