For me, one of the best things about living in Devon is the Cider! Most of us country bumpkins were brought up on the stuff and cider and I are very much firm friends.
The front doors to Killerton House
Signage for the festival was excellent and the official yellow event signs were placed at appropriate junctions and roundabouts. on arrival we were directed to parking by Air Cadets. We parked in the usual house car park, but overflow parking was directed into a nearby field.
Our very reasonably priced entry fee also gained us access to the Killerton House and Gardens at a discount of £6.50! I’ve always been interested in visiting, so this came as a welcome surprise.
We headed towards the festival through the usual Farmer’s Market (which takes place on the 3rd Saturday of every month March – Oct & Dec) and had a browse at the stunning local produce available. Even without the festival, this was an enjoyable shopping experience and well worth a visit.
The Apple and Cider festival took place in one of the estate’s orchards (which Buck thoroughly enjoyed, Mmm mouldy apples!) and was packed with revellers old and young, 2-legged and 4.
There were plenty activities planned for the younger members of the audience including wood carving, storytelling and archery. For adults there was of course the Killerton Cider bar, and musical entertainment.
The Cider Bar
The stage equipped with hay bales
We watched a set by Dorset musician Alex Roberts who had a blues-folk, storytelling, finger style vibe reminiscent of Nizlopi and Solo Martin Harley work. I particularly liked his song ‘Spaceman Outfit’ about his 5 year old self becoming a ‘Cat flap Astronaut’ and escaping the house with his childhood friend. Unfortunately my joyful watching experience was rudely interrupted by Buck fishing in the grass for yet more apples. The rather curious and confused stares from surrounding dogs hinted that his apple obsession wasn’t completely normal.
Bordering the Orchard were a few local crafts people and stalls. My favourite being Jane Elizabeth Confectionery offering Fudge in a huge selection of flavours. From smarties to coconut ice to Nutella, you can select several different flavours to fill your boots, and I have to admit I did not share my bag of Peanut Butter Fudge with either Joe or Buck!
After having a stroll through the orchard and a swig of the beautiful Killerton Cider we dropped Buck back at the car and headed in the direction of the Killerton House and Gardens for a swift nosey.
The house is quite beautiful and downstairs displays a variety of antique furniture and artwork. Upstairs held a fashion exhibition which was not quite to our interests but would have certainly caught the attention of others.
While in the entrance lobby I picked up a selection of 6 maps detailing walks around the estate. 3 of which have paths that run through the gardens so are therefore not suitable for dogs, however the other three are dog friendly and perfect for an autumn afternoon with Buck. The maps are made of durable card and have a step- by-step written guide (With added facts about the estate) plus a map showing depicting the route.
Maps of walks around the Killerton Estate
Mindful of our Apple daemon in the car, we took a quick jaunt around the gardens and came across an intriguing little wooden building called ‘The Bear Hut’. A plaque read that one of the sons of the family had used the summer house to house a bear. The floors and ceilings of the three compartments are made of different materials and the 3rd section, from deer knuckle bones and skins! You are no longer allowed stand in that section but I did manage to get a picture!
A view of the Bear Hut through the trees
The Bear Hut
Floor made of deer knuckle bones
Ceiling made of deer skin
We took a beautiful walk back through the gardens to the car park where Buck was soundly asleep in the boot of the car.
The Apple and Cider Festival was a great, inexpensive way to spend the afternoon with Joe and Buck doing something out of the ordinary. I suspect the festival will continue to grow in size over the next few years to accommodate bar and food queues and perhaps one day, a Handsome Hound Bandanas stall!