As mentioned in my previous post; Westermill Farm was the campsite I chosen to stay at during the Perambulation Weekend down in Exmoor, Somerset. It was also the weekend of the summer solstice and, in anticipation of the fact that many others might be looking to get-away for the occasion, I asked about the necessity of booking in advance of my arrival… To which I was told the same as when I enquired around August last year; that booking wasn’t essential and that I could simply turn up, pay my fees and camp (provided that I didn’t arrive in the middle of the night).
My attraction to this particular campsite before visiting was plain and simple; it was within a reasonable distance of the start and end point for the Exmoor Perambulation (approximatley a twenty-minute drive, to be precise). There weren’t too many other local options available to the east of Simonsbath that I could see. With the camp site being in Exford, I felt it was in a good location to explore more of Exmoor (as I had intended to do back in September but, for a number of reasons, that weekend away never actually materialised).
There’s a chance that, in this post, I’m going to overlap and repeat myself with words and opinions that I will have used in my previous post.
My SatNav led me rather comfortably to the main entrance of the farm. There are a couple of roads leading up to this point. I experimented with both over the weekend and neither is any much wider than the other (although, the southbound one has sharper bends, along with a bump over Silly Bridge – I kid you not!). Driving in to the farm, the Reception building is clearly marked and inside, filled with any and every leaflet for the local area that you might need, along with prices and information for the camp site itself. There’s a bell to ring when nobody’s waiting behind the desk in attendance. I had to wait nearly ten-minutes, after casually pressing the bell every so often but it does seem like a busy farm and it was pretty close to dinner time when I arrived.
I believe Jill was the woman I met. Very friendly, welcoming and happy to explain all you might need to know about the site. It’s one of those campsites where you need to open and then close the gate behind your car as you pass through towards the camping fields but that’s only much of an issue if, like me, you’re travelling alone and not venturing in or out more than twice a day. I’ll warn you that the chickens nearby aren’t very easily intimidated by cars so do be prepared to wait patiently, if they’re lingering in your way!
At Westermill, there are four fields to choose from and there are no set pitches. You can pitch almost anywhere there’s a space, provided of course, that you leave access clear for vehicles down the main paths. The River Exe runs along the bottom of each field and, as you might expect, the most popular place for people to pitch was almost alongside it. There are also a couple of ponds (in field two) that are home to a few geese and there are paths leading around the perimeter of each. Wooden gates lead in to other fields higher up the other side of the valley but I wasn’t sure of whether or not this land was private or open to campers.
I decided to pitch in field No.2. Driving past, No.1 seemed very quiet and, naturally, it was close to the tolilet and shower blocks, which contain ample facilities for a medium-large sized camp site (more so than what I’ve previously experienced elsewhere) and it’s clear that they’re cared for and cleaned regularly. So much so, that I even had my first shower and poo in a camp site over the weekend! (Yes, you read that right!!) Elsewhere, they have a shop on site that appears to sell many essentials and, according to the website, meat that would be perfect for a barbecue – on this occasion though, I did not explore it.
Speaking of fire, you’ll allowed a barbecue in each of the first three fields (provided it’s clear of the ground) and in the fourth field only, you’re allowed camp fires. Field No.4 (each field also has its own name) was also by far the busiest of the whole weekend. Field No.3 was slightly busier than my own but there was never any disturbance. On my first evening, I noticed a bat circling overhead. Deeper in the the night, I was awoken by the sound of a small number of owls. You really do get a bit of everything, here!
With water nearby, there were indeed midges to feed on my flesh but I was better prepared than in Wales, armed now with my own insect-repellent spray and the right kind of cream to nurse any itching bites afterwards.
Before pitching, I did park up and spend some time walking between fields to decided on where I wanted to pitch. There was so much room, it was a Friday afternoon and there was the chance that others might soon begin to arrive; it would seem almost naive to have rushed in to a decision. Despite pitching on a slight slope (less of a gradient than in Wales last month), my sleep was unaffected and the trees beside me provided shade from any late-afternoon sun. Also, I had my own ‘private’ set of steps leading up to the nearest drinking water tap.
Something I did struggle with in Wales was being a good five-to-ten minute walk from the main facilities. Naturally, I was quite happy to dart behind a bush for a wee but when it came to washing up, refilling a water bottle or fetching another forgotten item from the car; it was a real effort, when we were supposed to be taking things easy. I don’t think I fully appreciated that before I’d settled in at Westermill Farm, with everything almost within an arm’s reach.
A week earlier, I’d been out to buy a few things and also picked up an Anywhere Chair from Go Outdoors.
While it appeared compact and also had a large pocket for storage on the back, I liked the idea that it could give me somewhere to sit without attempting to recreate too much of a ‘home comfort’. In practice, I’ve found it takes some getting used to and while I wasn’t able to sit bolt upright comfortably, this chair could certainly retain some of the strain otherwise felt without, once settling down to read. It’s adjustable. I kind of wish there was a how to video that would demonstrate how you’re supposed to sit in these things but I like to think my experience with it will improve. I’ve read too many negative reviews of the cheaper legged chairs to risk throwing my money away on one of those.
I hope you’ve found this useful as Westermill Farm is now one of my favourite camp sites. I will most like there return there some day and, in the mean time, I would happily recommend them to any other camper(s).
Thanks for reading!