Weatherdon Cattle

The home of the Belted Galloway on Dartmoor.

It was Great Granny Matthews who first brought the Belties to this part of the moor.  Just after the second World War, Granny Granny Matthews, or Millie as she was known, travelled by coach to visit a herd just outside Salisbury. Granny did not travel very much and this is quite possibly the longest journey she ever made in her 100 year long life.  She purchased four heifers which were the foundation of the Weatherdon herd.  The first bull was a Barnearnie, brought down from Scotland.

The herd has grown considerably over the years, numbering around 100 breeding females at present, now under the careful management of Millie’s grandson, William.  William and his wife Ann, along with their four children continue to farm the same landscape; the beautiful southern slopes of Dartmoor.

The farm is set 680ft above sea level with the moorland rising to 1500ft at Three Barrows, Ugborough Moor.  Historically the Belties were kept out on the moor all year round, but the introduction of the environmental stewardship schemes in 1999 saw the end of out-wintering cattle.

The Belties can however graze the moor, which is common land, throughout the summer.  They could in theory go anywhere over the 88,000 acres of Dartmoor common, but they have a strong instinct bred into them from their own mothers to remain on their patch or lear as it is called down here.

As well as the Belties the farm supports   a herd of Whitebred Shorthorn cattle and a large flock of sheep of many breeds; all have a particular reason to be on the farm.  The Exmoor Horn were another breed introduced by Granny Matthews, but the North Country Cheviots are an outstanding flock bred by William’s late mother Amelia.  They are a sight to behold, beautiful sheep and well suited to the farm. A flock of Swaledale and Scotch ewes run on the moor, they are tough sheep that can put up with the harsh climate and poor weather.