Scotney Castle Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

On Thursday 17th September 2015, we headed to Scotney Castle for a special guided tour of the working hop farm on the Scotney estate.  We managed to get some good weather on the day, considering the day before it had absolutely “bucketed” down and apparently people still showed up for the hop farm tour!

The end of summer means the hop harvest. Hops are still grown, picked and dried in traditional ways on Scotney estate. You can walk with a tour guide to see the hop gardens, picking shed, drying oast and hoppers huts. Plus sample Scotney Ale brewed from hops grown on the farm. This was a privileged opportunity to visit a working productive hop farm. Fabulous day out.

SCOTNEY HOP FARM (2)Our walk was well timed, we got to the processing sheds at the exact moment the freshly picked hops arrived.
SCOTNEY HOP FARM (3) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (4) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (5) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (6) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (7) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (8) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (9) Here are the hops laid out after having come out of the oasts.   Freshly picked hops are brought to the oast where they  dry at a low enough temperature to retain essential oils, but a high enough one to expedite the process and prevent spoilage. SCOTNEY HOP FARM (10) Views of part of the hops garden from the top floor of the oast barn.SCOTNEY HOP FARM (11) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (12) They don’t just have hops here.  There are chickens and horses as well.SCOTNEY HOP FARM (13)Part of the guided tour also took us on a lovely  woodland walk  to disused corrugated iron dwelling where the  “hop pickers” used to stay during the hop season.

These dwellings used to have doors and windows, and sometimes whole families would come for the hop season.  The building on the right is the communal kitchen with open fireplace.

SCOTNEY HOP FARM (15) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (16) Cows and horses too.   And in another paddock sheep.SCOTNEY HOP FARM (17) SCOTNEY HOP FARM (18) SCOTNEY HOP FARM