Author Archives: Jim Chapman

Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus Ramble at The Orchard Centre

Sunday 5th May 2019 – national Dawn Chorus Day

Meet at the Centre at 5am.

At 5.15am we set off, when (hopefully!) the mists above Colliers Brook and over Catsbury start to rise as the sun comes up. It’s quite magical, and well worth getting up for!
This slow ramble takes about 45mins (or you can linger longer!) going through the perry pear orchards and alongside the lakes and reedbeds – with hopefully birds and wildlife in abundance. It is a friendly informal morning, with Keith Turner on hand to identify the bird song. We can all usually recognise the cuckoo!

Toast and hot drinks are served afterwards.

We welcome quiet children – but sorry, no dogs.

It is a free event – but donations are welcome to support the Orchard Centre and Trust work.

Wellies, strong boots essential – and T shirts or waterproofs depending on the fickleness of the weather!

The Wassail – one to remember!

It was the snowiest day of the winter (to date!) – but still over 30 brave folk came along in bitter weather, and snow and ice still lying! The musicians had to dig themselves out from May Hill to come!  But the ceremony went ahead as usual, and the Hartpury Green perry pear tree had the usual Wassail toast. Toast (for the birds, who are guardians of the tree) was hung in it.

hanging the toast up in the Hartpury Green perry pear tree

the same tree next morning!!!

So we’ve now just about had all weathers – warm evenings when folk could sit outside on the picnic tables, cold and windy ones, and now the snow and ice!! What will next year throw at us??!

HOT FOOD.      BAR: cider & perry
Wrap up warm, bring a torch, and come and enjoy a traditional evening with the old customs – toasting the orchard, pouring cider on the tree roots, with food and a bit of singing afterwards. Rob and Gillian Guest from May Hill with pipes and hurdy gurdy.    Come for all, or some of it – very informal.


Sunday 9th September:  Hartpury Orchard Perry Pear Open Afternoon   

THE WORLD RECORD for the NUMBER of PERRY PEAR VARIETIES on display was achieved – 97 varieties!!!


A lot of people came to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the superb setting, with Catsbury Hill in the background, and wandered round the orchard and wetland ponds area.

97 varieties out of about 110 were on show — so still room to make the maximum!

The pears then went off to the Malvern Autumn Show where 85 were still ok – the early varieties had gone over quickly. Then off to Big Apple at Much Marcle a fortnight later, when only 55 were good enough to exhibit.

So if you want to see perry pears at their prime — make sure you come to Hartpury Orchard Centre in September 2019 – and hope for a more normal season than this year!

Alfred’s Orchard Hare!

This massive 5′ high hare, decorated by Sarah Davis, was in residence for the summer at the Orchard Centre. He sat gazing across the orchard to Catsbury hill.
He was one of the hares in the AONB Cotswold Hare Trail, and has since been collected and auctioned for their selected charity – making £1000.

Events …… 2018

Saturday 16th June: Morning after Moth Night…..

See what the moth group have attracted overnight. The traps are opened slowly, and all the moths released once they have been identified and recorded. Hot drinks and toast are  available.  Watch out for the next one – always a fascinating morning!

Thursday 21st June: Make Music Day…..

A new venture this year for the Heritage Trust. As part of International Make Music Day, Rob and Gillian Guest from May Hill organised music of all kinds  in and around the orchard on midsummers day in a wonderful setting. Food and a bar was available — including perry made on site.

Thursday 23rd August…..

The Orchard Centre will be open from 2pm-5pm.  Teas and homemade cakes will be available, and Hartpury perry, cider and apple juice will be on sale.  Come and enjoy the superb setting.


Dawn Chorus Walk May 2018 —  A magical morning – perfect sunrise over low lying mist across the orchard!  We heard 31 different bird songs – including the cuckoo and rare Cetti’s warbler, which was also there in 2017.  Hot buttered toast was enjoyed after the ramble.