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Autumn harvest time in Richens Orchard

The ranger team share their top tips for exploring the Skyline each month.

To soak up the autumnal atmosphere I can’t think of a more pleasant or pastoral place than Richens Orchard. Nestled within the Bathwick field’s area, offering views of Bath Abbey, and with the Skyline path passing through it, this intimate orchard of 40 or so fruit trees planted in 2005, is well worth a visit.

The trees are now bearing a great quantity of fruit every autumn. We welcome you to wander through the orchard and pick a few apples for your bag – although do leave some for everyone else.

In the middle of the orchard is a great old walnut tree, abundant with walnuts at this time of year, and thriving into maturity in this warm south-west facing valley. The many species of apple trees and a couple of pears are fruiting now and most of the apples have been ripening through September and ready in October. Some are ripe earlier, and to check you gently try and twist an apple off the branch – if it comes off easily, it’s ripe. If it wants to stay on the tree, it needs a little longer in the autumn sun. Bramble bushes grow in great quantity around the edges of the orchard, so making the perfect blackberry and apple pie filling.

In 2016 we introduced a flock of Dorset sheep here to graze the grassland, as part of our aim to increase the biodiversity of the wildflower grasslands here on the Bath Skyline. Quietly munching the grass around the trees, they really set this scene of rural tranquillity.

You will find Richen's Orchard between points 11 and 1 on the Bath Skyline map - part of Bathwick Fields.