Emma Cunis, Dartmoor's Daughter (www.dartmoorsdaughter.co.uk) introduces us to this timeless activity that has delighted walkers and children since the Victorian era
Geocaching is a huge international trend and describes itself as the ‘world’s largest treasure hunt’. I like to think that the inspiration for geocaching started on Dartmoor!
In 1854, the well known Dartmoor Guide James Perrott built a small cairn at Cranmere Pool and placed his calling card inside a glass pickle jar challenging other walkers to locate the spot and to also leave their card. Over the years, the glass jar was substituted for a tin box with visitors book (and, most recently, a permanent stone and concrete box) and ink stamp.
This idea inspired others including one at Duck’s Pool in memory of William Crossing, Dartmoor Author, and subsequently at nearly every tor on Dartmoor -many are much easier to get to than the original!
If you manage to visit over 100 letterboxes, there is an exclusive club you can join - the 100 club. The club has been extended to even include dogs!
Modern letterboxes tend to be plastic boxes with an ink stamp, notebook, and pens inside.
You might feel inspired to collect as many different stamps as you can from around Dartmoor, or perhaps to create your own stamp to include at each site.
Whilst I’m not a fan of leaving anything on our beautiful moor that isn’t native, seasonal, or biodegradable, letterboxing is a fantastic way to encourage children, families, and adults to get outside into nature and to explore, enjoy, and appreciate places they might not have otherwise.
Dartmoor’s Daughter creates engaging and exciting public walks and bespoke nature-connection experiences across Dartmoor that can include flora, fauna, archaeology, myths and legends, and more.
Letterbox finding combined with a nature treasure hunt is one of our most popular children’s/family activities! Why not try it yourself by simply choosing one or more tors to go and explore with your family or friends. There are many options near Ashburton including Buckland Beacon, Combestone Tor, Yar Tor, Haytor, Smallacombe Rocks, Saddle Tor, Pil Tor, Bonehill Rocks.
Pop into Ashburton Information Centre for more information about letterboxing, useful maps and guides and more.