Guide To Letterboxing

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A Brief History of Letterboxing

Letterboxing started on Dartmoor in the 1854 by a local Dartmoor guide called James Perrott who placed a glass bottle at Cranmere pool (A decent walk across Dartmoor even by today’s standards) he then encouraged visitors to leave a card inside the bottle. The next person who then discovered the bottle would take the cards and post them back to the owner hence the name Letterboxing. 

Over the years the Glass bottle was replaced by a tin box and a visitor’s book. Nowadays Dartmoor has 1000’s of Letterboxes scattered over it many of which are situated in less hard to reach places.

 What is Letterboxing

Letterboxing is a bit like treasure hunting, hidden all over Dartmoor are containers which normally hold a stamp and a visitor’s book. The idea is using a compass / Map / set of clues and sometimes just plain luck to hunt the moor looking for the containers. Letterboxes can range size from a small pill pot to a large lunch box (sometimes Bigger). Once you find a Letterbox the idea generally is to stamp your log book with the stamp from the box and to leave a copy of your stamp (Traveller) in the Letterboxes visitors’ book.

 Who goes letterboxing

Letterboxers come in all shapes and sizes from small children to senior citizens. Twice a year there is a meet where people get together to discuss letterboxing tales, Swap Clues, Buy charity walks and other Dartmoor related products.

How can I get started

You will need a Dartmoor Explorer Map 1:25000, inkpad, Notebook, pen, patience and all the usual walking equipment. There are a few ways to get started letterboxing- 

Randomly Hunting - Pick a place on Dartmoor to visit (good places to start would be Cox tor, Staple tor, Brai Tor) and hunt under every rock and boulder for pill pots or bigger size containers.

Buy a catalogue of clues - The Dartmoor letterboxing 100 club sell a catalogue each year of clues, however this is frowned upon by some people as in years gone by you had to find your first 100 letterboxes without the aid of a catalogue by doggedly hunting around Dartmoor. Once you have 100 Stamps you could then join the 100 club and buy the catalogue. Now a days a catalogue is available here.

Charity walk clue sheets – These consist of 12 -20 clues which will guide you on a vaguely circular walk on Dartmoor. The clue sheets normally contain a grid ref, compass points and a description of where the letterbox is hidden. As the name suggests these are put out by people to raise money for charity, each sheets costs £2-3. A List of the current charity walks is normally available on the Dartmoor Letterboxing Forum  Once you have found your first few letterboxes you will probably be hooked and also have an idea of what you are looking for. 

Who places / Maintains Letterboxes

Letterboxes are normally placed by avid letterboxing fans, the clues are then either submitted to the Dartmoor Letterboxing 100 Club for inclusion in the catalogue or circulated to friends by word of Mouth.

Types of Letterbox

Standard Letterbox – These are the standard ones you will find dotted over Dartmoor, These normally have a stamp and a log book in them.

WOM – Word of Mouth Letterboxes, these are placed by people who prefer not to have the letterbox included in the Catalogue the clues for these are normally circulated between letterboxing friends.

Travelling Dartmoor Letterboxes – These letterboxes move around the moor, the idea is that if you find one you move it to a new location and resite it. Some people then write the clue to the new location in another letterboxes log book. 

Travellers – These are normally custom designed stamps that each Dartmoor letterboxers carries with them to stamp the log books of letterboxes they find.

Dartmoor Charity Walks – As mentioned previously these are put out on Dartmoor to raise money for charity. They stay on the Dartmoor for a few months and then are taken off.

Finally

Make sure you are prepared, the weather on Dartmoor can change in minutes.
Always make sure you leave the letterbox as you found it.
Read through some of the threads on the Dartmoor Letterboxing Forum for some really good tips and plenty of useful info. 

Look at the Dartmoor letterboxing code of conduct.

Happy Letterboxing.

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