I don’t know what it is with me and orchards but I just find them irresistible.
You could give me a bucket of apples but there’s nothing sweeter than the one you munched after being chased down the lane following an after school raid on someone else’s Granny Smiths.
There now, I’ve made a full confession officer. I was an orchard thief back in the day. I’m not commending it or condoning it for a split second but judging by the windfall, some of those big houses, behind those high ivy clad walls, always seemed to have more apples than they were ever going to use. I rest my case.
All that brings us in a rather roundabout way to The Apple Camping and Caravan Park in Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary. A campsite in the middle of an orchard, in the middle of the harvest season. Apple heaven.
In Apple heaven there is no need for those school boy antics or Bash Street Kids comic book escapades, there are plenty of apples for everyone and they are all being put to good use and in an environmentally fashion for good measure. This apple farm and campsite is the brainchild of the enterprising and environmentally savvy Cornelius Traas and his family.
Being hemmed in landlocked Laois I usually prefer coastal destinations for camping but find myself drawn back again to the serene tranquillity of this tip top site in Tipperary, only a stone’s throw from Cahir, Cashel, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir and not much more than an hour for us down the M8 and then just a turn off the Waterford-Limerick N24.
I love this spot. Even though it’s a working farm during the busy harvest it is so laid back and easy-going. This site is old school, but still has all the facilities you need, cosy and spotlessly clean. The lay-out for camping around a circular green in the heart of the fruit farm lends itself to the relaxed peaceful atmosphere that abounds.
The services block, well it’s a big barn really, but comfortable nevertheless where you share the spacious area with seasonal workers, swallows and the resident robin. The only thing to break the silence of an Indian summer on a September evening is a child tinkling on the ivories of a piano (which is part of the common room furniture) or the braying of a pair of apple crunching donkeys, who must be the best cared for in the country.
There is not much to do at the Apple Farm campsite, except stroll aimlessly through the endless rows of apple varieties and I think that’s why I like it here so much, you can get lost. There is a tennis court and an adjacent playground, with a giant size swing which the children love, as they do spotting rabbits running among the trees.
On arrival there is a warm greeting and a complimentary bottle of scrumptious apple juice. That’s a nice touch and typical of this no fuss place where you don’t need coins, tokens or keys to avail of showers or other services. Interestingly, this was one of the aspects that appealed to a couple from Salzburg and it was enjoyable and informative to spend an evening with them and their two young daughters as they finished up and prepared to fly home after an 11-day campervan tour in a hired Bunk Camper. While the converted VW Transporter was convenient and adequate for their needs, they did find it somewhat uncomfortable and confined.
I like the way the tariffs are applied at the Apple Farm. There is no charge per unit. Instead the fees are €7 per adult and €4.50 for children under 12 per night; electricity hook up is €2.50 per day. All other facilities are included, no hidden or additional costs for showers, wash-up, awnings, or wi-fi, as often occurs nowadays in other sites.
You can purchase the Apple Farm’s eating and cooking apples, apple cider vinegar or Con’s cider at good value. The apple juice for instance is €2 (I have seen it retail at €4.50) and it would be impolite not to enjoy a chilled bottle of the farm’s own cider for €4 and boxes of Discovery eating apples are €5 per 6kg box, or cookers at €7.50 for 7kg. If you wish to sample fruits growing on the farm you are asked to consult with staff in the shop as to what is ripe and safe to eat.
And if you plan to do so, you will have to get your skates on as the Apple Farm Campsite goes in to hibernation at the end of September. It’s well worth the trip to Tipp.
You can contact the Apple Farm at 052 7441459; www.theapplefarm.comfacebook.com/irishapplefarm or @theapplefarmer on Twitter.