Things you need to know about the North Somerset Cider Trail

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

(Getty Images/iStockphoto) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Boasting 7 country pubs and a cider brewery, this cycle and walking route in North Somerset is a perfect weekend activity

Thatchers orchard. Jonathan Billinger [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

Thatchers orchard. Jonathan Billinger [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons - Credit: Archant

What is the North Somerset Cider Trail?

The North Somerset Cider Trail is a pleasant fifteen mile route starting at Yatton Railway Station. More suited to off-road, hybrid and mountain bikes, this stretch can also be walked. In fact, in some instances, its maybe better to walk, since the route passes public houses as well as Thatcher’s cider orchards.

Which pubs does it take in?

The first two thirds of the cycle route is on road. And, in fact, you’ve hardly got on the saddle when you encounter the first of three pubs in Congresbury. That’ll be the 200-year-old Plough Inn in the village’s High Street. After that there’s the Old Inn on Paul’s Causeway and the White Hart (Wrington Road).

Next stop is Churchill’s Crown Inn and, if it’s sunny enough, a stop-off in the pub’s pretty beer garden. If you’re still able to climb on the bike at this point there’s a glass of cider in the 300-year-old Swan at Rowberrow to contend with.

One mile down the route Shipham offers comfort in the form of the Penscot Inn. Then, finally there’s Sandford’s beckoning Railway Inn and Thatcher’s Cider Shop at Myrtle Farm. By this point, there’s only one way back to Yatton – and that’s via the off-road Strawberry Line path (a former railway line now made accessible by a local voluntary conservation group).

Get to the source of cider making

With a brewery, visitor shop and pub in Sandford, the Thatcher’s family and their many delicious cider incarnations, have been a part of North Somerset – and the village of Sandford in particular – for more than one hundred years and three generations of Thatcher males. A welcoming venue and a cider production plant which veers away from intensive farming and machinery (their oak vats are over 100 years old too) it’s possible to walk through their orchards and inhale the heavenly scent of fresh apples on a summer’s day. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm and half day (10am to 1pm) on Sunday and Bank Holidays. To discover more about the cider producers in Somerset, click here.

Cider Facts

• Cider was first called ’sidre’ by the Normans (who introduced it). The word translates as “strong drink.”

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• Farmhouse cider – or scrumpy - evolved through crushing and pressing apples then putting the juice into oak barrels for half a year to allow it to ferment.

• Most farm-produced cider is sold to locals and visitors within a short distance of the farm.

• At one time villages in Somerset would take cider with their porridge.

• Labourers were historically paid part of their wages in cider.

Have you explored the North Somerset Cider Trail? Tell about your experiences @NSomTimes