An Apple Festival – Gorse Hill Nature Reserve

This weekend David and I visited Gorse Hill Nature Reserve in Ormskirk. The attraction was their annual apple festival. Since 2005 an organic orchard has been established with heritage varieties such as the Ribston Pippin and Worcester Permain.

apples 1

Worcester Permain

The 2017 apple festival ran from Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th September, with opening hours of 11 to 4pm. We arrived around 12 noon after a half hour drive from Liverpool. There was free parking. Sadly Saturday was a bit of a wash-out weather wise. It was cold, wet and dreary all day. Though there were a good number of people enjoying the cakes and coffee in the cafe.

On the day, there were regular tours of the orchard with interesting histories of the heritage apple species grown onsite. An apple press demonstrated apple juice production with the opportunity to purchase the juice at £2 a bottle and there was even access to a short woodland walk.

Firstly, David and I headed towards the barn where the main attraction was, the produce of some 100+ fruit trees from the orchard. There was an apple tasting table where you could taste samples of the likes of Sunset and Katy. I tried the Ribston Pippin but found it too hard. I then tried the Ellison’s Orange and it was a much softer, sweater texture.

From the taster table we perused the produce, there were varieties such as Egremont Russet with its rough skin, Brambley and the humongous Mere de Menage.

The main reason we went was so I could obtain some Discovery apples as they are a personal favourite. However for the past two years I have not been able to buy them in the supermarkets. Sadly they are a seasonal early, are usually ripe during September and unfortunately spoil very quickly, hence only seeing them early autumn. Indulgently their taste and smell conjure up memories of childhood, the nervous excitement of returning to school after the long school holidays, (still felt some 30 years later). Of sitting in a darkened room with the curtains open, the street lights outside making the room glow orange, the gas fire burning warmly and children’s programmes blaring brightly on the TV. The sense of safety is overpowering. I’m still wearing my school uniform of royal blue cardigan and navy skirt while biting into an apple that has soft flesh, the pulp bruised pink and the taste sweet yet tart. I’ve been following this echo for so long….

We went on the short woodland walk along Cabin Wood. Since the weather was against us, there was no head nor tail of any insects and the air was silent of bird song. I can imagine of a spring or summers day the air teaming with life. Instead, we wrapped our arms around ourselves and enjoyed the many sculptures along the path.

ellison orange

Ellison’s Orange

Returning to the apple barn I decided to buy some Discovery and Ellison’s Orange, both had the scent of autumn to me. In all I bought 12 apples and at 4 for £1, the total cost was £3. I felt that was really cheap. I was ready and willing to pay more.

In hindsight I wish I had bought more of a variety, but I had intended to get Discovery apples and Discovery apples I got!

I am happy I have discovered this little gem of an orchard and will definitely visit again.

Have you visited a fruit festival? What is your favourite apple?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

12 thoughts on “An Apple Festival – Gorse Hill Nature Reserve

  1. The last apple festival I went to was in Herefordshire in 2010! I don’t really know of any near me but I have been thinking a lot about apple festivals this autumn and would like to go to one – we have so little time for days out this autumn though sadly but I must do it next year! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a discovery apple before – something else I must do next year! I tend to stick to the same old apples when I buy them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ll get more time once your house is done. If you do get the change to try a discovery do, they are lovely. David preferred the Ellison’s Orange. There were so many different species of apple, I wish I had been more adventurous and bought a selection!


  2. Looks a lovely thing to do. It really does feel autumnal now , especally after reading this post! I went to an apple press day at a cider farm about 3 years ago which was good fun. Cider is my drink of choice when i go out. I also love a good apple press crumble. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The local greengrocer has an arrangement with a Kentish orchard and has a box of old varieties at this time of year. Always a wonderful discovery – forgive the pun. We’re lucky enough to have a fabulously old Bradley in the garden still giving us, gulp, nearly 500 kg of apples. Yep that’s right, we will be eating crumble, daily until April! I’m just glad dad taught me about storage!

    Liked by 1 person

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