Although not as traditionally associated with orchards as more southerly and easterly areas of England, in years gone by, most of the farms in North Cumbria had a small orchard to supply fruit for the family and farm workers
Westmorland damsons of the Lyth and Winster Valley near Kendal are a little smaller and sharper than their Shropshire relatives. The trees are scattered all over the valley – along stonewalls, in field corners, near the schoolyard – anywhere where the thin soils allow. Like the Kea plum, these damsons continue to be sold locally for picking and jamming. They can be enjoyed fresh and make a good-flavoured ice-cream.
Cumbria orchard groups
To find community orchards local to you, see our community orchard map
- North Cumbria Orchard Group – North Cumbria Orchard Group is an independent association founded in 2010 to conserve, promote and celebrate orchards in North Cumbria. The Group seeks to preserve what is left of these orchards and to encourage the planting of new orchard trees to conserve local varieties and to establish varieties that perform well in the local climate.
- South Lakeland Orchard Group – The South Lakeland Orchard Group was formed in 2007 with the aim to conserve, maintain and renovate existing fruit orchards and encourage the planting of new orchards in the South Lakeland area recognising the importance of bio-diversity and the preservation of old local varieties of fruit. Many members are re-invigorating their orchards using the traditional techniques used for hundreds of years in orchards. Others are actually planning new orchards for posterity. Members have a wide knowledge about orchard maintenance, and also there is unparalled experience of local heritage varieties.
- Westmorland Damson Association – The Westmorland Damson Association formed in 1996 to restore the Westmorland damson orchards to their former glory, to promote the cultivation and use of Westmorland’s damsons and much more. Each April thousands of visitors celebrate its Damson Day, started in the 1990s, a chance to buy damson ice cream, wine, pickled damsons, tarts, pies, cakes and damson cheese.
Where to buy trees in the Cumbria
- South Lakeland Orchard Group – SLOG has apple trees for sale, grafted this year. SLOG has specially selected varieties and rootstocks that do well in the North West.
- Low Stanger Farm – Various varieties available including Cockermouth Codlin, others can be grafted to order
Where to buy orchard produce in Cumbria
- The Westmorland Damson Association website lists local growers and makers of damson produce. Sells frozen damsons.
- Staff Of Life Bakery – Produce bread using flours from a local restored watermill, including a damson sourdough using the fermented yeast of the fruit, sourced from the Lyth Valley.
- Low Stanger Farm – Growing organic apples since 1997. Around 340 trees, and 80 different varieties, including many that are local to Cumbria or Scotland. Some of the traditional apples include Duke of Devonshire, Worcester Pearmain, Longstart, Cockermouth Codling and Lorton Vale.
- The Apples and Orchards of Cumbria – A comprehensive review of Cumbrian apple varieties and of Cumbrian orchards open to the public, by Andy Gilchrist.
- Acorn Bank – National Trust garden near Temple Sowerby. Best known for its collection of 250 herbs and traditional fruit orchards.
- The Dalemain Estate – There are ancient apple trees in the garden which are nearly 30 different named 18th/19th century varieties