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Raising a glass to Gloucestershire’s canals, apples and orchards

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Visitors raised a glass to Gloucestershire’s heritage orchards at an event in Whitminster on Thursday.

Organised by Cotswold Canals Connected, along with CPRE Gloucestershire and Berkeley Vale, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the Cotswold Canals Trust, the event gave guests the opportunity to sample traditionally made cider and look at the range of apple and pear trees in the orchard, some dating back to the beginning of the nineteenth century.

John Newton (left), Vice Chair of Cotswold Canals Trust, with Professor Patricia Broadfoot and Charles Martell from CPRE Gloucestershire. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Charles Martell, President of CPRE Gloucestershire was the guest of honour and along with Tim Andrews, founder of Orchard Revival cider, gave the welcome address and key note speech.

Tim Andrews of Orchard Revival cider pours a glass of Save Our Swifts cider, with money from each sale funding swift boxes in North Nibley. Picture: Matt Bigwood

Cotswold Canals Connected’s project is joining the apple revolution by supporting the restoration of one of Gloucestershire’s lost orchards. Along the banks of the Stroudwater Navigation in Whitminster is Pockett’s Orchard, a traditional orchard that once housed several heirloom varieties.

Occupation Bridge spans the canal near the orchard in Whitminster. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Over the course of the next few years, the partnership’s Environmental Lead, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust will replant and tend to this orchard and hand it back in to newly educated and inspired community.

Between now and 2025 Cotswold Canals Connected (CCC) will plant 4km of hedgerow as part of its Working with Nature and Creating Places strategic aims.

Aimee Malcolm, Canal Ambassador, Prue Vernon, CPRE Berkeley Vale, and Anna Tarbet, Canal Environment Manager with Cotswold Canals Connected tuck into some of the apples from the orchard. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Gloucestershire is famous for its heritage of culinary, dessert and cider apple varieties which are of national importance – there are over 200 recorded, many with specific uses and different keeping qualities. Sadly, more than 70 per cent of our orchards have disappeared or are at risk.

Swanning along on the canal. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Cotswold Canals Connected is a partnership of organisations which are restoring the canal network. Phase 1A, which is now complete, restored the section between Stonehouse and Thrupp. Phase 1B, which includes this project, will restore a further four-mile section between Stonehouse and Saul Junction providing a connection to the national waterway network.

Some of the trees in the orchard date back to the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The partnership is committed to significant outcomes for wildlife, people and communities, and our canal heritage.

Children from Whitminster Primary School designed signs to identify each of the trees. Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Find out more about Cotswold Canals Connected at www.cotswoldcanalsconnected.org

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