If ever there was a true celebration of the English countryside, it would have to be Cockington Apple Day. It is held on the third Sunday of October in Cockington Country Park, Torquay. The preserved village setting of Cockington attracts thousands of visitors throughout the summer months to see the quaint thatched cottages and beautiful scenery that Cockington is famous for. Cockington Apple Day adds something new to the attraction.
History of Cockington Apple Day
National Apple Day began in 1990 by the charity Common Ground. It wanted to raise awareness of the disappearance of traditional apple orchards in the UK. There were once over 6000 varieties of apples grown here, but only nine are currently available in supermarkets. Modern methods of farming and cheap imports have led to more than 90% of Devon's orchards being lost since 1965.
Cockington Apple Day aims to celebrate the diversity of apples and raise awareness of the importance of preserving the traditional orchards that remains. The day includes tasting apples and cider, recipes, songs, stories, wassailing and pruning of the orchards and generally attracts around 3000 visitors.
Cockington Apple day is a popular event
For those not familiar with Cockington, Apple Day is held in the area behind Cockington Court. The focal point is the big old cider press situated alongside the impressive looking new craft centre where local artisans work and sell their wares.
The usual craft stalls are set out in marquees with all sorts of goodies. Crowds surround the apple press as it creates over 600 pints of apple juice during the day and some fabulous entertainment is laid on by the organisers including storytellers, jugglers and craft demonstrations.
A view to die for!
One area of Cockington that many tourists don't even realise exists is the orchards themselves. To reach them you just have to walk past the Cockington Court Craft Centre and through the wooden gate at the top of the overflow car park. The orchards are not signposted but you are free to enter ‐ just remember to close the gate behind you as there are often sheep grazing there.
Here is a tip for you, when you walk through the gate, carry on walking up the hill to the top corner of the field but make sure that you don't look behind you. When you reach the top corner you will see an apple tree with a makeshift bench which has been knocked together. When you reach the bench, slowly turn around and you will be greeted by a view which will take your breath away due to its sheer beauty.
Surrounded by the most glorious woodland to your left and right, the view to the sea in front of you is interrupted only by the flag of St George which is flying proudly above Cockington Church. There can't be many better views anywhere else in the world!
When you have sat down on the bench to take it all in, enjoy a short walk back through the orchard and join in with the festivities of Apple Day.
When the fun is over, a short walk down to The Drum Inn which is situated in the middle of Cockington is the order of the day to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. If the sun is shining there are plenty of seats outside but if it is getting a bit chilly, the roaring log fire will give you a warm glow whilst you think back over a typical day in the “Old English” countryside.
The apple is celebrated all over the country with different varieties of the fruit itself and in scrumpy and cider. Do you know of other villages that celebrate National Apple Day as seriously as Cockington?