Clyde Valley Orchards mapped on the National Inventory of Orchards for Scotland

A report on the contents and condition

- Crispin Hayes, National Coordinator for the National Orchard Inventory for Scotland

In 2016, local community organisation Clyde Valley Orchards Cooperative Ltd teamed up with national body Orchard Revival to carry out the local fieldwork for the National Orchard Inventory for Scotland.

The orchard at historic Halbar Tower

The orchard at historic Halbar Tower

The Clyde Valley is at the heart of South Lanarkshire in terms of orchards.  The topography of the Clyde Valley provides it with a much more sheltered environment than the surrounding parts of the area, and it is still Scotland's single biggest and most concentrated orchard area.  Prior to the late Victorian era, the Clyde Valley was known for apple and pear production, but it subsequently changed to plum, and in particular the Victoria plum, a variety which was discovered as a seedling in the South of England in 1844.

The Clyde Valley is seeing a renaissance of interest in orchards but faces many challenges especially in terms of economics and changes in land ownership. Below is what we found. Read the full report by clicking under 'Other Resources' on the right and browse graphs and photos below.

  • Age Range Of Trees In Orchards

    Age Range Of Trees In Orchards

  • What undercrops are grown?

    What undercrops are grown?

  • Grazing animals in orchards

    Grazing animals in orchards

  • How is the fruit used?

    How is the fruit used?

  • Age Range Of Trees In Orchards
  • What undercrops are grown?
  • Grazing animals in orchards
  • How is the fruit used?

There is still significant amount of fruit grown in the area, with over 72 ha (170acres) of orchards still present.  However, a large amount, probably the majority of the orchards, are not used to their full potential. 

A large number of orchards, totalling 50 ha (125 acres), have been lost or abandoned since its peak in the mid 20th century.  There is still a larger area of orchards today than there were in 1860s. 

The aged tree stock dominates but there are significant numbers of younger trees.

Volunteers survey an orchard site

Volunteers survey an orchard site

Veteran tree features such as bark crevices, holes in branches, and deadwood indicate the orchards contain high levels of biodiversity.

Most orchards have little or no management, and this does not help their longterm survival.  Pruning can prolong their life.

The orchards are no longer as large with most orchard now having less than 30 trees.  Only a small minority have over 100 trees. 

Undercrops of soft fruit are grown in a significant minority of orchards, and while this used to be common across Scotland, this area is one of the few where it remains widely practiced.

Livestock are grazed in significant minority of orchards, but there is evidence of damage to trees resulting.

A significant proportion of orchard owners say that fruit is used by their family, is given away to friends, or is made into jams, preserves and other fruit based products. However, much goes to waste.

So what like they taste, these orchards?  Sometimes sweet if you like a plum, sometimes tart if you like a damson.  You choose. 

Managed by Clyde Valley Orchards Cooperative Limited (CVOC), the project was facilitated by Crispin Hayes Associates with Orchard Research and Enterprise CIC as partners. It was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Watch the Clyde Valley Orchards feature on BBC Countryfile below.

 


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