EVERY autumn the orchards at Killerton National Trust estate near Exeter become a hive of activity with volunteers and the local community pitching in to help harvest tons of apples for pressing into award-winning cider and apple juice.

On Saturday October 19 and Sunday 20, months of apple picking and cider-making on the estate culminates in a weekend celebration and annual family festival to mark National Apple Day. The orchard is festooned with bunting, stalls are scattered between the apple trees and the amazing smell of a traditional hog roast greets visitors at the gates.

For the adults, the Killerton cider bar serves Killerton’s award-winning cider and apple juice alongside local wines and ales to drink while sitting back to enjoy the live music.

For the children, there is mask-making and a bumble bee parade through the orchard. They can also forage their own apples to cook up delicious apple frittas, pancakes and bread over a camp fire with Exeter Forest School. Older children can try hitting William Tell apple targets with a bow and arrow under the expert tuition of Exeter Company of Archers.

The event opens with a medieval mumming play and lively morris dance performed by local folk group Grimspound Morris who bless the apples to keep an old Devon custom alive. An apple juggler and magician will entertain the crowds on his unicycle and families can compete amongst themselves on the apple shy, hogs mouth target and traditional village fete games. Escot and Exeter Woodcarvers provide have-a-go woodcraft activities using Killerton’s apple-wood and timber sourced from the estate.

The countryside tent is the busiest part of the orchard. Families are encouraged to bring one small bag of their own apples to press into a bottle of juice to take home. Apples are also on sale and a cider apple expert will help identify visitor’s home-growns. Local fruit tree nursery, Adam’s Apples will be selling English apple trees and offering specialist advice.

Killerton estate produce will also be on sale including cider, apple juice, apple chutney, honey, and apple-wood BBQ pellets, alongside Emma’s Bread from Exeter’s Real Food Store offering homemade cider bread, apple scones and cakes.

The apple trail will take families through Killerton’s old varieties of English apple trees and out into the historic parkland, past Old Budlake Post office which is open to visitors, finishing at Killerton’s Forestry Yard. There, visitors will witness a 200 year old giant cider press and a piece of history in action.

The Killerton cider and apple weekend is open 10am-5pm both Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October. Entry is £2 Adult, £1 Child and £5 Family. Free entry to NT members and U5’s. For full details call 01392 881345, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/killertonapples or tweet @NTKillerton