Glastonbury Tor's orchards
Glastonbury Tor has several orchards which produce a wide variety of heritage apples.
Glastonbury Tor is famous across Britain, a place where legends are born. The Tor is steeped in history and mystery. Today, Glastonbury Tor remains a place of pilgrimage for thousands of visitors, just as people have for hundreds of years.
A lesser known fact about the area is its productive apple orchards hidden at the foot of the Tor. Glastonbury used to be called Avalon, ‘the isle of apples’ in the Iron Age because of the number of apple orchards in the area. Every autumn we collect the harvest and use the fruit to produce our special juice and cider.
Orchards at the Tor
Glastonbury Tor's orchards nurture a variety of apples from Newton Wonder, Yarlington Mill and rare Tidnor collections. The orchards are also important for birds, insects and other wildlife.
Located around the base of its slopes are four orchards. Two of these are open to the public, one of which dates back to the 1800’s and welcomes visitors in through the beautiful willow arches. Here is a quiet place for reflection, enjoyed by visitors and wildlife alike.
Orchards have been central to communities for centuries. They not only provide food and drink from their apple crop, but historically they have been places to gather, learn skills and additionally provide green spaces in modern built up places. They are also a great example of food production where nature and man work together. They produce a resilient and diverse system, where low human input is required to produce high yield.
Orchards are fantastic for diversity – they combine elements of woodland, grassland and hedgerow habitats, ideally with standing and fallen deadwood, which are essential for some invertebrates. There is plenty of forage for pollinators and the soil is often undisturbed. Each tree, particularly the old and gnarly ones, act like a tower block for nature. Every part of the tree, from the leaves to the rot holes provide perfect homes specific for each species. To help protect them in 2007, traditional orchards were designated as priority habitat, Natural England have estimated that since the 1950’s orchard areas in England have reduced by 63%.
Here, National Trust are also preserving heritage by planting vacant spaces with a rare Tidnor collection of apple trees from Herefordshire.