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Monday, 22 September 2014

Amy abroad: Sea, surf and cider in Cornwall

Britain, I’m learning, is a country full of history, beauty and good beer. Around every corner I find historic architecture, colourful gardens, picturesque countryside and pubs full of locals drinking tasty ales. What I did not expect to find is that some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and coves are also located here. Driving south west brings you to the county of Cornwall. With 300 miles of diverse coastline the Cornish people have the right to brag! Rich and I, along with some friends, decided to go camping for 8 days to explore and appreciate everything this gorgeous county has to offer. As I was heading to the South West again I had an inkling that some more cider tasting was going to be in on the cards…

Similar to the Alps, although not quite as hilly, the roads are extremely windy and narrow; sometimes we had to pull into a bush to let oncoming traffic get by! Cornwall was so much more than I ever imagined. We camped on 14 open acres of farmer’s field at the famous Bedruthan Steps with the Atlantic Ocean as our back drop. Day trips consisted of rock pools and cliff jumping at Treyarnon bay, crabbing and Cornish pasty eating in Padstow, surfing and sun tanning at Watergate Bay, and most importantly Rattler drinking during all daily activities.

Rattler, from Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm
was the first Cornish cider I was introduced to as it was on tap at the local pub and readily available at the bottle shop. Rattler is made from Cornish Rattler apples which are known for their cider making qualities. With three flavours to choose from I had my hands full for a few days. Rattler Original is crisp, cloudy and dry, whereas Rattler Pear sits somewhere between sweet and dry. Rattler Berry gives you the juicy bang every sweet cider should give. All three are thirst quenching and refreshing so I continued my daily cider purchase at the bottle shop.

Due to large amounts of rain, and badly designed tents, our team of 5 decided to move south and treat ourselves to a luxury caravan for the remaining 4 days. Our new base was a camp site in the small town of St Just and from here our daily explorations around the southern coastline continued. We ate fish and chips at Sennen Cove, walked around the old tin mines at Pendeen, strolled across the causeway at low tide to St Michael’s Mount and I scored some wicked surf at Gwenver Beach. We also ventured to Cornwall and England’s most westerly point, Land’s End, and wandered through caves at Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula. Amongst these epic daily activities I stumbled across the The Lizard Cider Barn.

This old white bungalow was a little hidden from the road; however as it was well sign posted I didn’t miss it. Inside was nicely renovated with shelves on every wall. There was a large selection of different traditional local cider, country wine, and Cornish-made liqueurs. You also couldn’t miss the exceptional local art and produce surrounding you, ranging from paintings and fused glass to chutneys and fudge. A small glass flagon reading Cornish Scrumpy caught my eye and it reminded me how parched I was.

Scrumpy is a type of cider found traditionally in the West Country. It’s thought that the name comes from an old West Country word, “scrimp”. This means a small or withered apple and it’s thought that it gave rise to the word “scrump” which means to steal fruit. Scrumpy tends to be cloudier in appearance and often still contains the pulp of the fruit. It is usually bit stronger than commercial ciders and can be dry or sweet in taste.

We enjoyed sampling the entire sweet to dry range of Jacks Ratt cider made in Lyme Bay. I should mention that whilst I was drinking it in a Cornish cider barn, this is actually Devonshire cider. Back on the Cornish cider I tried the flagon of traditional dry Cornish Scrumpy from Mounts Bay Cider Company 7%. This was a bit more rugged tasting and, as you would expect with scrumpy, not sparkling. Then similar in style to Rattler there was the award-winning Polgoon range of apple, pear, and berry ciders. Polgoon is a Penzance-based company who, as well as cider, produce Cornish wine that’s won a fair few accolades.

Noticing the difference between Somerset and Cornish Cider, I fancied you could almost taste the sea salt in cider made with apples from this area. I left the Lizard Cider Barn with my palate refreshed and my hands full and with 2.5 litres of cider on hand I had plenty to enjoy over my remaining days in Cornwall.

Exploring north to south in the rain and sunshine I found Cornwall to be a county that is full of beauty and rich with heritage. I would highly recommend a trip to the far south west to anyone that intends to travel the United Kingdom. It is completely worth it. Also don’t forget to sample all the tasty ciders this amazing area produces.

Kynance Cove

Lizard Cider Barn

Cider, cider, cider

Sipping on cider at Sennen