Apple Sundays Revived at Ardress House

Apple Sundays
Apple Sundays

Apple Sundays Revived at Ardress House

The vibrant spirit of Apple Sundays returned to Ardress House last weekend, promising two more weekends of apple-filled festivities.

Enthusiasts can engage in apple picking, witness the age-old apple press in action, explore a range of artisanal produce, and revel in live entertainment, all in celebration of this year’s bountiful apple harvest.

Ardress House’s historic orchards have been nurturing apple trees since the illustrious year of 1855. Under careful management, they yield a fresh harvest year after year, perpetuating a cherished tradition.

Families can partake in the apple picking festivities on designated Sundays, gaining a hands-on experience in the age-old art of harvesting.

Among the assortment of apple varieties, the renowned Bramley apple stands out for its culinary prowess. Its rich flavour endures even when subjected to the rigours of cooking.

Situated in the heart of Armagh, aptly known as the Orchard County, Ardress House enjoys a sheltered position shielded from coastal winds by the imposing Mourne Mountains and the Ring of Gullion to the east, and the Sperrin Mountains to the west.

Additionally, the influence of the nearby Lough Neagh tempers the climate. This results in fewer occurrences of late frosts compared to neighbouring regions. The meticulously maintained hedgerows encircling the orchards act as an effective bulwark against gusts of wind.

Apple Sundays Revived at Ardress House
Apple Sundays Revived at Ardress House

Armagh’s mild, damp climate is a haven for the cultivation of cooking apples. The cooler temperatures here result in fewer pest incursions, and the leisurely pace of growth imbues the Armagh Bramley apples with their distinct taste and texture.

The apple harvest season spans from early September to late October. The exact timing depends on variables such as seasonal conditions, fruit maturity, tree age, and rootstock type.

Harvesting commences when the apples reach a minimum diameter of 75mm (approximately three inches). Maturity is a critical criterion – they must be gathered before more than 20 percent of their stored carbohydrates transition from starch to sugar.

Picking demands precision and expertise. Harvesters are trained to handle the fruit delicately, ensuring no blemishes mar the skin or harm the flesh.

Traditionally, apples were stored in wooden crates and kept in barns for no more than three months. Nowadays, modern storage employs low-oxygen units. Maintained at a constant 4.3°C, they permit safe storage for up to a year.

Positioned at the heart of the Orchard County, Ardress House serves as the quintessential backdrop to acquaint oneself with Armagh’s iconic apples while enjoying a day of family merriment.

Visitors can try their hand at the apple press, sample local produce, and revel in music amidst the picturesque orchards.

For those making their way to Ardress House on an Apple Sunday, consider the following tips:

  1. Early Arrival: Gates open at 11 am, offering a plethora of activities and delectable treats in addition to apple-related experiences. Arriving early ensures you make the most of your visit.
  2. Carpooling Wisdom: Parking spaces are limited, so consider sharing a ride with friends or family to optimize space.
  3. Apple Picking Supplies: Bags for apple picking are available at £5 per bag, ensuring everyone gets a chance to partake in this age-old tradition.
  4. Considerate Picking: Remember to pick responsibly, ensuring there’s plenty for all to enjoy.
  5. Furry Friends Stay Home: While dogs are cherished, they’re best left behind as chickens roam freely in the farmyard.

For a canine-friendly day out, consider a visit to The Argory, just a short 10-minute drive from Ardress.

  1. Cash is King: While some vendors may accept cards, having cash on hand will ensure you don’t miss out on any delightful treats.

As an added bonus, Patterson’s Spade Mill and forge invite visitors to try their hand at forging for a fee of £15 per person.

Please note that normal admission rates apply, and Escape into Autumn access passes are not valid for Apple Sundays at Ardress House.



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