Summer 2013, and a 3-generation expedition to Dartmoor for a few days. I had vaguely heard about the – hobby? healthy outdoor activity? sport? – of GEOCACHING, the search for a concealed container in a (usually) remote place using clues. Or in some cases, coming across one by accident. However DARTMOOR LETTERBOXING was a variant new to me… Much the same principle, but on a smaller scale. Letterboxing originated on Dartmoor but has spread widely to many other places. As the official website puts it, “Letterboxing is an outdoor pursuit with similarities to orienteering. A small pot (the letterbox) containing a stamp and visitors’ book is hidden on the moor, and a clue is written to lead others to its position. Clues may be as simple as a map reference and list of compass bearings, or may be more cryptic. When a letterbox is found, the letterboxer takes a copy of the stamp, as well as leaving their own personal print in the visitors’ book. Letterboxing began on Dartmoor but is now popular in areas all over the world.”
The quest originally began when Berry (then 7) was having a riding lesson on the moor. They reached a gateway and Adele said there was something interesting close by it. She was a bit mysterious about it, so at Berry’s suggestion we decided to investigate the next day…
This is the same gateway, set in a long dry stone wall (see header image). It looked a promising place to start the search
Berry is something of an expert at this sort of task, and worked her way methodically along the wall towards the gateway checking the crannies (avoiding a barbed wire fence). And there, almost entirely concealed in the stones at the side of the gate, was a Letterbox. It is shown here after discovery and retrieval – originally it was almost invisible. Inside was a small notebook to sign and date, and some tiny mementos that previous finders had left in the container. Then Berry replaced the Letterbox in its original position for someone else to discover…
The sun broke through the clouds, and after a major paddling session in a pool formed by a stone dam in a small stream, it was time for sustenance….
Chocolate Brownie Heaven…
I wouldn’t dream of giving away this location, but I think I can leave a broad clue: “Hound of the Baskervilles”. Part 2 will feature a rather more adventurous and fortuitous (i.e. no clues) Letterbox find at the top of a Tor on Dartmoor last summer.
5 thoughts on “DARTMOOR LETTERBOXING PART 1”
I think this is a lovely idea and certainly spices up a walk. Amelia
It’s a great idea for encouraging exploration. For all ages!
Hello and thankyou for leaving such an intresting post. My father and I have spent about and hour looking on OS maps and have finally found the site. We are heading down to Dartmoor in the summer holidays and I was just wondering, if the letterbox is still there, could we post a bearing on a nearby tor as a hint? Thankyou once again for such an intresting post.
Hi Hector, I got this on my phone while I was in France, computer-less, so I decided to wait to respond. First, thanks for getting in touch and you kind remarks.
I’m glad it took you a while to find the site – no fun, if too easy. Congratulations! Did the Hound of the Baskervilles clue help I wonder?
Although we’ve been back to Dartmoor since then, we haven’t returned to that location to check. I am sure it will still be there, though. I reckon letterboxing people have a code of honour! Don’t forget to sign the booklet…
I’m not sure about posting a hint, though. I suspect if one looks online there are various sites with clues and even dead giveaways. Maybe those spoil it a bit. Might a bearing be too specific do you think? How about a cryptic verbal clue?
While you are on the moor in the summer, you might be interested in looking for an informal letterbox our granddaughter found by accident. You can read about it via the link at the end. Hounds Tor and the nearby bronze-age Grimspound settlement are well-worth scrambling round for a morning and a picnic!
Have a great holiday – and let me know about your letterboxing successes.
All the best from Rolling Harbour