Most letterboxing takes place on Dartmoor – which is a wild and rugged landscape that deserves some respect. The conditions can change very quickly and even the most experienced walker can get caught out. It’s beyond the scope of this page to teach you how to survive on the moor, a few basics can be outlined. However, only you are responsible for your own safety!
You will need:
- Suitable clothing. (For the likely conditions, plus extra in case the weather changes.)
- Suitable footwear. (Walking boots, generally, although the moor has many terrains and the more experienced may make their own choice)
- A map (Recommended are the Ordnance Survey Landranger or Dartmoor maps of 1:25,000) – And the ability to read and use it effectively.
- A compass (And the ability to use it!)
- Sufficient food and water for your trip, plus some. (Many consider most leats and streams on Dartmoor to be fit for drinking, but there are places where you can be a long way from them)
- An inkpad
- Some blank postcards or book, for recording any stamps you find.
- A pen for recording your visit in the letterboxes’ book.
- A mobile phone. (Although do not rely on this, as many areas are out of signal. However, they have saved more lives than any other tool in recent years.)
- A GPSr and the knowledge to use it.
- Spare batteries / battery pack for the above.
- Your own stamp with your “Boxing Name”.
- Telling someone where you’re going and leave a copy of your course, along with expected times back. (Perhaps a little overkill for a quick hike, you judge)
- The Catalogue of Clues is the main source of Letterboxes and clues to their locations. This is maintained and sold by Sylvia Moore. As of 2018, this costs around £10 and is updated once a year. Cheques made payable to Sylvia Moore and sent to :- 25 Sanderspool Cross, South Brent, South Devon, TQ10 9LR
- Charity Walks: The letterboxing meet also has clue sheets sold for charity of circular walks giving locations or hints to boxing series. A great way to get started. The forums sometimes have contact details of these too.
- Word of Mouth: (WOM) Many letterboxes are not published in in the above and are intended for accidental finders, or clues are swapped or traded with friends and friends-of-friends. If you encounter someone else looking under rocks, they may be letterboxing also – and you can always ask them.
If you have clues, then great. These will often take you to an area via grid reference or coordinates and tell you to search for key item (often a bush or rock). Then you may have to walk X paces on a given bearing to where the box is hidden.
But even if you don’t, you can simply go for a walk and look under some rocks! You will certainly find them around some of the more popular tors (Haytor, Saddle Tor, Hound Tor etc) – but often these are “Kid’s boxes”, with low quality containers that leak, hidden poorly and with a generic stamp. These don’t always give a very good impression of Letterboxing especially compared to a well maintained box with a hand-carved stamp relevant to a local point of interest.
Some Letterboxers also carry “Travellers” with them – a stamp you can only get from them in person. Worth asking!
Some pubs and shops on Dartmoor may also have a letterbox available for the asking.
Many folk prefer to use walking poles to poke around under sticks – saves some efforts and reduces the chances of disturbing an Adder.