Igtham Mote - apple festivalAs part of our Autumn Bucket List we wanted to go apple picking. Recently becoming members of the National Trust when a friend suggested we try out the Autumn Festival at Ightham Mote we jumped at the chance. It sounded like there would be plenty of opportunity to try out apple picking in their orchard. However when we arrived it became apparent all the apples had already been picked! There was an opportunity to try out different types which we did and you could take some home with you for a small donation. However the boys were most disappointed that they couldn’t actually pick any. Thankfully the cafe had wifi as there was very little signal anywhere else and we got googling. Being the in the heart of Kent known as the Garden of England surely meant that there must be somewhere quite close.

The Hop Shop We need not have worried as we came across The Hop Shop at Castle Farm, a quick phone call confirmed they were still picking so we finished up an early lunch and headed over. It was only about a 20 minute drive thankfully. We parked at the shop itself, to get to the apple picking field it is a short 10 minute walk through the back of the farm and up across one of the lavender fields. Although the lavender is well past its best this time of year it still smelt glorious. There is a bit of a hill so if you had very young children or elderly relatives then I wold suggest driving up to the field.

Apple picking at Castle Farm

There is a little while hut just as you go in, they sell pre picked apples and pears, cobnuts and quince. Be warned they only take cash, but at £1.50 per kg for apples its very good value. The lady was very good with Monkey and his little friend explaining how best to pick the apples – i.e. to twist them off instead of pulling them. We each took a plastic bag to fill.

Apple picking at Castle Farm

The orchard itself is predominately planted with Norfolk Royal apple trees, although there is the odd row of Cox’s, and the odd Golden Delicious tree for cross pollination purposes. Castle Farm is the only registered orchard in the world of this rare variety. The apples are bright red and very pleasing to the eye, just as you would imagine an apple tree to look. Its an established orchard and the apples hang low which means that they are just the right height for kiddies to pick. Hubby had thought he would be walking around with Monkey on his shoulders but he need not have worried.

Apple picking at Castle Farm

The kids had a great time wandering up and down the rows trying to spot ones which were red all over. On the way back to the farm shop we stopped of a quick game of pooh sticks before settling down with an ice cream in the sun.

Pumpkins at Castle Farm

The farm shop is well stocked and would be worth a visit in its own right. Although there is not the option to pick pumpkins due to where the field is they do sell them and have little leaflets suggesting recipes you may want to try out. They also have a very old quince tree at the front full of ripe fruit. I have always wanted to try my had a at quince jelly so we picked a few again at £1.50kg hopefully once made it will keep till Christmas. Monkey gave us a hand although most of the ripe ones were out of his reach. I was impressed he remembered he needed to twist the fruit instead of pulling.

Picking Qunices

Things you need to know:

  • Apple picking will be open to around the 11th of October this year although they may extend it if the weather holds and there are still apples to pick. I get the impression it is very popular so get in early if you want to give it a go. If you want to double check its probably best to ring
  • Based in Sevenoaks Kent more details are on their website here.
  • Opening hours for the show are Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm and Sundays 10am-5pm

I can imagine the lavender fields are wonderful  so I can see us definitely returning and who knows we may buy our own little Norfolk Royal apple tree next time. What do you enjoy picking this time of year?

Mudpie xx

The Freerange Family


Lovely Things


  1. Becky, Cuddle Fairy Reply

    That sounds like such a fun day out! What a deal for the apples too. My Godparents used to bring us strawberry & blueberry picking. It’s a great tradition to start x

  2. I’ve never been apple picking, I wonder if there are any places near us or if it’s too short a growing season up here to be that successful. They certainly look like proper apple trees that you can imagine children drawing and excellent that kids can reach the apples too. I always feel so bad when you big something up to your kids and then it doesn’t turn out, good for you on turning it round and finding somewhere else to go!
    Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

    • I’m not sure – definitely worth a look. We felt pretty bad just so glad they had wifi otherwise would have been a bit lost! Will ring ahead next time to make sure! Thanks for hosting xx

  3. Had to read this, we live in Kent and my husband works for a grower, their main produce is apples and we have taken our son up to his work recently to see the trees. Absolutely stunning colours at this time of year ! We love the Hop Farm too x #FabFridayPost

  4. Sara Handy Herbs Reply

    What a fun day out! Great photos! We love picking apples and foraging for blackberries at this time of year. it is great to buy fresh produce from a local farm shop too. #FabFridayPost

  5. We are in Sussex but often visit Kent in our camper so I am adding this to our list of must visits @afieldsomewhere – popped over from #countrykids

    • We are Sussex based too 🙂 love going to Kent and would really really like a camper if only I could convince the Hubby! Thanks for stopping by x

  6. What a fantastic place! We love picking fruit and raided the big apple tree near our allotment the other day – highly satisfying! #busydoinglife

    • I can imagine it’s even better when the lavenders out! We will be going out. Sounds great hope you made something yummy! Thank you for stopping by

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  8. chloelifeunexpected Reply

    I am insanely jealous. I wish we had apple picking near us. This sounds like such a great day out and so good that Monkey remembered to twist!!! I’m glad you found somewhere to pick some in the end and good luck with your quince jelly! It’s so yummy, I hope making it goes well for you. Thank you so much for linking to #whatevertheweather x

  9. Coombe Mill Reply

    What a great activity for you to go and do with Monkey, he looks like he’s really enjoying his time exploring the orchards. I’d never really thought about going apple picking, my lot love going strawberry picking in the summer so I’m sure they’d enjoy this. I’m sure Monkey’s looking forward to more adventures at the Hop Shop at Castle Farm. All those apples look totally delicious, They really do look like what you’d imagine your typical apple tree would look like. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

    • So am I really glad we found it even by accident …. Now I just need to find a pumpkin patch! 🙂 thank you for hosting X

  10. Oh this looks like so much fun! We have something called “The Lazy P” farm here that opens every weekend in October for pumpkin picking and everything fall and Halloween related. It’s on my list of activities for this weekend! My kids would love apple picking as they love apples and even choose them over french fries! I am visiting from #lovelythings.

    • Sounds brilliant I could really do with finding one locally here but it’s not as big a thing so they tend to want to pick them for you :(. Hope you have a brilliant time xx

  11. This really does look like a lovely day out! Looks like you had perfect last sun of summer weather too. I’m based in kent, will definitely have to check this out next year x MMT #lovelythings ps what did you do with all the apples?!

  12. You have inspired me. I want to take E&E apple picking now… but I have no clue where to. Will need to google that up. Glad you have found somewhere close by and was able to pick some home. I am very impressed with Monkey too. Look at his concentration. Just wonderful! Thanks for linking up with me. #FabFridayPost xx

  13. Oh what a lovely day out! Kent is so good for apples? Have you been to Brogdale? We went there for the Cider Festival on August. It was really good. I know they do a lot for both adults and children. There really is nothing like picking your own fruit and eating it. We always used to go strawberry picking as kids.

    Sally @ Life Loving

  14. We have one tree locally that I know apples grow on but no where proper or established to pick. Looks like a fab day, good old google to the rescue again.
    Think it is nice for children to learn where the food comes from rather than “the supermarket!.

  15. What a lovely thing to do and a really nice idea to have a bucket list by season too. I can imagine my son really loving doing this 🙂 #lovelythings

  16. What a fantastic day out! I’m going to look for somewhere like this local to us to go this weekend having read your post! Thankyou so much for sharing this with me on #busydoinglife

  17. A Moment with Franca Reply

    This looks like so much fun! This is something that I should definitely do with my girls. I will check if we have any one around us. I love your photos. 🙂 x

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