Explore orchards in North Devon

'Welcome to our Orchard' sign at Brownsham, North Devon

There are some wonderful orchards in North Devon; read on to discover more.

Orchards are a place that’s great for nature and for us – often an oasis from the hustle and bustle of what’s around us, they give us a space to stop and relax.

Bideford Bay and Hartland

At Brownsham we’ve got an orchard filled with apples, pears and plums. The best time to see the blossoms is in the spring but if you visit the orchard in mid-summer you’ll find the orchard alive and full of tranquillity and peace. You feel immersed in nature and find time and space for yourself.

Even in winter the Brownsham Orchard is an enchanting space.
A bright sun shines over the Brownsham Orchard
Even in winter the Brownsham Orchard is an enchanting space.

The orchard has been restored with some new trees but it’s an old, traditional orchard. There has been an orchard there since at least 1900s as it is found on old tithe maps of the area. Some of the apples include cider apples, cookers and eaters. Why not come to one of our fun juicing days and try some of the varieties. You might spot a silver-washed fritillary butterfly or a marsh fritillary butterfly if you’re lucky.

A beautiful Marsh Fritillary
Marsh Fritillary at Welshmoor, Gower
A beautiful Marsh Fritillary

You can park in the Brownsham parking lot (SS286259) – it’s a National Trust parking lot with an honesty box. While it is suitable for pushchairs, unfortunately it’s not accessible for wheelchairs. While here you can explore various walks around the property, including visiting Windbury Hill Fort, dating to the Iron Age.

The Brownsham Orchard is part of the Brownsham Estate and it was left to the National Trust in the will of the Honourable B. C. Asquith in 1969.

We have two orchards at Peppercombe, both of which have been improved through management with volunteers, including old school scything and green haying. We have even been able to make cider we’ve juiced with our very own home made scratter and press.

A National Trust employee scratting some apples in a homemade scratter and press.
A National Trust employee scratting some apples in a homemade scratter and press.
A National Trust employee scratting some apples in a homemade scratter and press.

Peppercombe Orchard, with help from Tesco Bags for Life Funding and lots of volunteer hours is now fully accessible to anyone who wants to sit and enjoy the views across Bideford Bay in this secluded and tranquil coombe. In three years, it’s gone from an inaccessible privet, willow and scrub dominated hedge and field to a place of contemplation with new and old trees, gated access, new benches and hopefully soon following our green haying in 2019 a rich ground flora. It’s a lovely place to sit and listen to the sea, the bird song and the buzz of wildlife around you. It’s a great place to see blossoms in spring but full of life throughout the year.

There is no parking at Peppercombe but you can find parking in Horn's Cross and walk to the beach.

" Peppercombe Orchard is lovely place to sit and listen to the sea, the bird song and the buzz of wildlife around you. It’s a great place to see blossoms in spring but full of life throughout the year."
- Gregg Wilson, Ranger, Bideford Bay and Hartland

We also have an orchard at Dunsland, which was created in 2003 with volunteers. Together, 75 trees were planted and guarded. We put in a mix of pears, apples, and plumbs. We knew the site was previously an orchard using old maps of the property, but we had no idea what varieties would do well. We sourced local Devon varieties and subsequently found that some did better than others and ended up trying new varieties that would thrive better in the conditions. There is a National Trust Car Park at Dunsland.

The beautiful Dunsland Orchard in Autumn
The Dunsland Orchard in Autumn
The beautiful Dunsland Orchard in Autumn

The orchard is now fully productive with a varied age structure, fringed by woodland on two sides and a good wildlife hedge on the others, providing an amazing refuge for wildlife. We run work groups at many of our orchards, where volunteers care for the trees through pruning, weeding, mulching, guarding and re-planting where required. They are then rewarded with lovely apple juice and cider! We’ve also planted trees which have been propagated through our National Trust Conservation Centre, focussing on some of the older trees in our orchards which will soon be in decline and in time varieties that may have been lost. By planting this next generation of trees, we are safeguarding the diversity of specieis that are in our care.

West Exmoor

Near Combe Martin is an apple orchard tucked behind a historic 15th-century small Manor – West Challacombe. Wander around the orchard with apple trees ranging from ten years old to circa 80 years old and enjoy the peaceful views around you. Come in the spring or summer to see the blossoms. Feel free to try some fruit, but please leave some for the wildlife.

" Hiding behind a historic manor house sits an apple orchard, full of life, waiting to be discovered."
- Daniel Cameron, Ranger, West Exmoor

It would be best to park in Combe Martin and walk to West Challacombe – it’s approximately a one mile walk from Combe Martin.

The West Challacombe Orchard was purchased as part of the wider West Challacombe Estate in 1989.

West Challacombe Orchard full of apples ready to be harvested.
An apple orchard ready to be harvested.
West Challacombe Orchard full of apples ready to be harvested.

In the Heddon Valley we have two young orchards, one by the Hunter’s Inn with appple trees and one plum tree, and another orchard, Harry’s Orchard with apple trees and one damson tree, by the stone bride where the Heddon Path begins. To see blossoms it’s best to go in the spring or summer. When you visit you may see dippers in the river and the odd bullfinch. There's parking available at the National Trust car park.

Spot dippers on the river
Dipper bird on the water
Spot dippers on the river

Woolacombe

In North Devon, we're working on planting new orchards throughout various patches, including at Woolacombe. By planting today we're helping the environment and creating new spaces for people and nature tomorrow. We look forward to sharing stories from our new orchards soon.

A volunteer planting trees in North Devon.
A volunteer planting trees in North Devon.
A volunteer planting trees in North Devon.