The history of letterboxing

Letterboxing began in 1854 when a Dartmoor guide named James Perrott placed a glass bottle at Cranmere Pool, and encouraged hikers that made the considerable walk to the site to leave a calling card as a record of their achievement. By the early 1900’s a tin box had replaced the bottle and a visitors book was provided.

In 1937 the Western Morning News erected a granite box at the site, and in 1938 this was followed by a second structure at Ducks pool, which was built in memorial of William Crossing by a group known as the Dobson’s Moormen.

Clues were circulated for other ‘letterboxes’ that had been hidden on the moor and, after a map that marked the position of several letterboxes was produced, letterboxing began to take off.

Nowadays, a rubber stamp and visitors book are hidden in a small container and a clue to its position is shared, by word of mouth or through an unofficial group known as the ‘100-Club’.

In the past stamps were hidden in army ammunition tins, but today they are more likely to be concealed in ‘pill-pots’.

A set of letterboxing rules has been established to avoid damage to the moor, and to cause the minimum of fuss to its users. Although there are now thousands of letterboxes hidden on the moor, they are generally well hidden and unlikely to be found by the casual hiker.