North Norfolk’s Best Pick for Home-Grown Food
Whatever the weather, there’s plenty to see and do at Drove Orchards. Explore a range of colours, smells and tastes in North Norfolk all year round.
Drove Orchards is a working farm that grows a huge variety of nuts and fruit; from hazelnuts to cherries. It’s a bustling destination for visitors to discover shops, eateries and plenty more. Susan Hall, Estate Manager, thinks the orchards are the perfect setting for a family day out.
“The orchards are magical and have a lovely calm feeling. They are especially beautiful in the spring when all the early blossoms show the first signs of fruit. The first apples start to ripen from early September.”
Drove Orchards was founded 65 years ago by Major David Jamieson, who started off selling the fruit to supermarkets. The orchards were first planted in the 1950s and are still there for visitors to explore today.
After David retired, his son Andrew (pictured) became the owner of the business. At this time, supermarkets had just started demanding year-round produce, meaning apples had to be picked unripe and stored in carbon dioxide.
“Andrew doesn’t like the supermarkets’ ethos of selling stored fruit, so we only sell fruit that’s in season. We make our own additive-free apple, pear and quince juice, which is hand selected and picked. When the fruit is in season, you can pick your own or buy from our farm shop.”
The wide selection of fresh food on offer meant Drove Orchards was a runner-up in Budgens of Holt’s 2015 Local Supplier of the Year Awards.
Pick Your Own Fruit
Explore the Heritage Orchards, where over 165 varieties of apples and pears are grown. See the fresh fruit in beautifully arranged orchards that are perfect for strolling through on a warm summer’s day.
“The Heritage Orchards cover over 65 acres and include an East Anglian heritage orchard with very rare apple varieties, as well as a French and old English cider orchard.”
Visitors can pick their own fruits from the orchard and soft fruit beds. Take in gorgeous scents and colours as you wander through the grounds to find the perfect picks.
“We grow walnuts, hazelnuts, apples, pears, plums, quince and some soft fruit, including; jostaberries, blackberries, gooseberries and strawberries. Our hedgerows are filled with wild plums, cherries, blackberries and some wild honeysuckle.”
See the Natural Beauty
Drove Orchards has a long history of conservation work. It all started with Andrew’s grandparents, who originally bought the land in the 1920s to stop it from being developed.
“We work very closely with the Norfolk Ornithologists Association (NOA), who observe our marshes from the North and record the coming and goings of birds and wildlife throughout the year. We are also in the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme to help protect wildlife and plants within the area.”
The orchards and marshland, which make up Drove Orchards, are part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Drink, Eat and Shop
The grounds are within walking distance of the sea and are set in over 350 acres of orchards, farmland and wild meadows. As well as natural beauty, Drove Orchards celebrates everything North Norfolk has to offer, from local food to one-of-a-kind shops.
“There are eleven other businesses on-site, including clothes shops and two restaurants, as well as a fishmonger, farm shop deli, plant nursery and an antique centre. We also host music festivals, NOA events and craft fairs.”
The farm shop, fishmonger and award-winning restaurants offer only the best local produce. Indulge in a great variety of fresh meats, cheeses, bread and more.
Drove Orchards makes a great family day out, offering something for all ages. Children can have fun in the on-site play area, while adults can enjoy ambling through the orchards.
There’s a range of events on throughout the year. In 2017, there’s an open day with the NOA on 5th August, Plant Lovers’ Day on the 6th August and Apple Day on the 1st October.
Entry to the site is free of charge, although some events may carry an entrance fee. Dogs on leads are welcome on-site but mess must be cleared up after them.
Drove Orchards is between Holme-next-the-sea and Thornham on the A149 coast road. Drove Orchards is around a 45-minute drive away from The Blakeney Cottage Company HQ.