Then and Now

Westermill is a family-run farm located in the heart of Exmoor National Park. The Edwards family have farmed here since 1938.

“It is quite difficult to remember Westermill as it was pre–1939 and it must be even more difficult for others to even visualize it. On reflection it was actually a very small and difficult hill farm of 260 acres with only one level field, Thricelet (in those days three fields-Birch meadow, Ham meadow and Thricelet all with their boundaries). There was no Exe Cleave, no Luckesses, no Langdons and the Green was grazed by Wellshead. No Hospital field, but there was Way Meadow at the end of the lane. Garden Meadow, Bog and Swamp were just that. The fields over the river were full of couch and silver weed and Broad Twitchen was full of plantain. Moorgate and Castle were the same. The river itself meandered much more than now.

The whole valley, although beautiful, was devoid of trees and therefore very bare. The only buildings were the barn, pork lane, the cart shed, the linhay and the rubbish house. The lane in was a rough track and very wet. There were no gates and no fences and no stock proof hedges but the house was sound and dry. The only way to the top ground was up the old lane through Three Corner field and Moorgate and to get to Greenhead from the Green one had to go into Lower Langdons and then double back by the water tanks. It was steep and rocky, very tricky with a tractor without independent brakes. All the steep ground like Penn and the Allotment were rough grass, bracken and heather.

So it would be understood that the undertaking by Monica and Douglas was quite formidable. No wonder their friends thought they were mad. But the pioneering vision of Douglas was remarkable with his decision to reclaim all the heather part of the Allotment. By doing so, the whole balance of the farm was changed in that there was the potential to have a large area of flat land capable of conservation. I remember some farmer saying ‘by ploughing the allotment it was the making of Westermill’. How right he was and all praise to Douglas.”

John Edwards (2016) Memoirs of A Lucky Hill Farmer Bristol: Private Publication.


… and Now—ish

Today — 2024

Westermill Farm is about 600 acres, has about 60 Aberdeen Angus suckler cows and approximately 600 breeding sheep, mainly Perendale, a Cheviot cross Romney breed.