What is Letterboxing?

Letterboxing involves walking over moorland, using a map, compass, and a set of clues to locate a hidden box placed on the moor. The box usually contains a visitor's book, a rubber stamp, and sometimes clues to further boxes. Some of these stamps are simply cut from a piece of rubber, while others are professionally produced and works of art. No matter how simple or artistic these stamps appear, they are all of equal value to the letterboxer. Those who collect over 100 stamps on Dartmoor are eligable to join the Dartmoor Letterboxes 100 club.

The letterboxer carries an ink pad and a book or cards to make an impression of the stamp, as well as their own personal rubber stamp to mark their visit in the book. The latter is optional, some just write their details in the book with a pen. Some carry other items, such as an old toothbrush to clean up the stamps before inking them or a small piece of wood  to stamp their book or cards on a flat surface.

Some letterboxers also carry a second stamp with them - a Traveller. This is used in the same way as the stamp in the letterbox but it travels with it's owner. If you ask someone who is letterboxing on the moors you may find that they are carrying a traveller with them - and not only people have travellers! Dogs go letterboxing also and some of them have their own stamps!

Not all stamps are hidden on the moors. Some are kept behind the bars in pubs, some are found in tea rooms, supermarkets, even police stations! These letterboxes are ideal for attracting customers (except for the last one!)

The first letterbox was put on Dartmoor at Cranmere Pool in 1854 by James Perrott. This was a small cairn with a glass jar into which visitors could place their visiting cards. Over the years other letterboxes were added to the moor. It is only in the last 20 years or so that letterboxing has became so popular with hundreds of boxes to find. Because of the increased popularity of letterboxing, rules were evolved to minimise damage to the moors. These rules may be found in any of the books available or in the leaflet obtainable from the Dartmoor National Park Authority. These rules should be adhered to at all times.  It is also important to know that the military use Dartmoor for training and details of firing should be obtained beforehand.

FURTHER DETAILS: 

Further details of Dartmoor Letterboxing:Pat Clatworthy, Letterbox 100 Club, 1 Dryfield, Exminster, Exeter, EX6 8DJ.

Dartmoor National Park Authority, Parke Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, TQ13 9JQ.

Dartmoor Letterboxes & More Dartmoor Letterboxes by Anne Swinscow , Kirkford Press

101 Dartmoor Letterboxes but not how to find them by John Hayward with Anne Swinscow, Kirkford Press.

North York Moors Letterboxes: N.P.Ferguson, e-mail for further details  g0bpk@roydmoor.com

Isle of Man Letterbox Trail by M.J. Southall,published by The Scout Association, IOM, printed by The Copy Shop, 48 Bucks Road, Douglas, IOM, IM1 3AD

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