Saturday, 21 November 2015

Summer reflections

The first snow of Autumn fell on Dartmoor today.  Snow has fallen in 7 of the last 11 Novembers. Perhaps the month should be renamed 'Snovember'.  The dusting of the white stuff has made me reflect on the Summer of 2015, when my relationship, and perhaps many people's relationship with Dartmoor and Letterboxing seems to have changed.

The last walk I recall completing was around Eylesbarrow.  Finding several letterboxes on the slopes of the hill, and in the valley near the bronze age Drizzlecombe menhir.  Taking some time to explore the ruins and remnants of the old tin mine which closed in the 1850s - roughly when James Perrott established his Cranmere Pool letterbox.  Human impact on the moor is long lasting.  Even when the memories fade, the legacy remains.  Set in stone.  A monument to past glory.  Bronze age Britons vanish.  Tin mines are exhausted of their ore and the miners leave.  The landscape they leave behind has changed irretrievably.


The confirmation of my Homebase Garden Academy status this Summer was fantastic for me professionally and personally.  A career change into the Great Outdoors was always my ambition.  An ambition that can be traced back to the Summer of 1991, when I made a connection with the Dartmoor environment - introduced to me through Letterboxing.

In the 25 years that followed, the Letterboxing landscape has also changed, almost beyond recognition.  I have spoken before of the developments that have occurred.  Those since the Millenium have altered the hobby greatly, such as GPS and the boom in Geocaching.  This year, more than any I can recall, has seen the largest number of Letterboxers actively retire from the hobby.  Various reasons may account for this.  The end of an era seems an over-the-top way to describe it, but the class of 1985 have finally chosen to hang up their compass for the last time in greater numbers than ever.  The landscape they leave has changed.  The resulting hobby must face some challenges ahead.  I relish a challenge though!  Whilst I grapple with my growing gardening career, please forgive my long silences on this blog as I walk less and blog even more rarely.  I still care very much for Dartmoor, and love Dartmoor Letterboxing.  Don't forget you can see what I'm doing in the 12 month academy on my other blog though.  Appropriately named perhaps: What goes down, must come up!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Access all areas

Despite the gloomy weather forecast, I found myself on Dartmoor on Saturday afternoon, packed and ready for a letterbox walk around Windy Post and Pew Tor.  I haven't walked these parts in many years.  A new set of letterboxes has been sited here, and my time away had generated a long list of clues to search for.  I parked in the car park just below Little Staple Tor, aiming directly for Feather Tor and the peaks beyond.  

The going underfoot was far tougher than I remember.  The grass and gorse were very deep in places and the lack of grazing livestock is clearly having an effect on the landscape.  On the southern side of Barn Hill, Spring's swaling, still very obvious, successfully cleared the undergrowth.  The wide pathways through the gorse were eroded and muddy, in an area which receives more than it's fair share of walkers.  It made me think about access to the moor, after all - to my East - remained Dartmoor's most sensitive, well-known and long running issues - Vixen Tor.

As I feared in my post (Vixen Tor and other restrictions) in January 2011, spray painted rocks surround the area.  That Vixen Tor has always been enclosed is not disputed, but the removal of a stile over the enclosure wall in 2003 sparked protest and trespassing until the courts ruled in landowner Mary Alford's favour in September 2011.  Based on my observations, displaced rocks from the wall, clear footprints inside the enclosure towards the rockpile, and damage to the barbed wire fence and fenceposts indicate that the public continue to access the land where the stile once stood.

Some 30 years ago, at least one Letterbox existed beyond this wall:  Named 'Vixana's Lair', in honour of the enduring legend of Vixana the witch, who, it is said, lived on this high Tor.  She used her powers to conjure up a mist when anyone came close. Disorientated and lost in the fog, they would inadvertently wander into the nearby mire.  Legend has it that Vixana was defeated by a local man with the assistance of a 'magic ring' enabling him to see through the mist, creeping up on her and pushing the unsuspecting witch to her death from the summit.

Partly in reverence to the story (and partly as the Letterbox no longer exists) I did not cross the wall.  My walk took me around Heckwood Tor and towards Pew Tor Cottage.  It was great to meet Caroline and Ian Kirkpatrick near one Letterbox.  The Kirkpatricks have long been great promoters of the off-Dartmoor letterboxes to which I have referred to this year.

I found 9 Letterboxes in all, and though some of those on my list were missing, I was satisfied with the afternoon's walk.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Away day

Back in March I said I hoped to return to Bodmin Moor after a day's (successful) letterboxing around Cornwall highest peak, Brown Willy.  A while ago, the opportunity arose to check out the area again, this time in the company of a regular visitor.  A seasoned geocaching and letterboxing pro in the form of Steve B.  Steve lives just off the moor, and often walks these paths.  With prepared lists, plenty of local tales, and knowledge of hidden letterboxes, this day was sure to exceed March's Bodmin Moor letterbox haul of 1!

Parking up in light mist at the village of Minions, it was a surreal start to what would be a great day's letterboxing.  I'd never been to this 'Warner branded' settlement before, and I haven't letterboxed with anyone in years.  First stop was Tregarrick Tor.  I was quickly reminded of how much this place has in common with Dartmoor - bogs and streams to cross on our path.  Steve pointed out the Poldark filming location.  The track to Tregarrick played the role of "Road to Illogan" in series 1, which made me chuckle.  After success at Tregarrick Tor, we headed to the Cheesewring, which is a popular tourist attraction round these parts.  A natural rock stack that defies logic, gravity and belief atop a giant quarry.  I was in my element.  The weather was beautiful, the pace of the walk was perfect, and the Letterboxes kept coming!  We turned North towards consecutive ridges of mysterious rugged tors.  At lunch on what I learnt was the appropriately named Sharp Tor, I was introduced to Bearah Tor and Kilmar Tor and the infamous High Rock.  Letterboxes on all of them, I was told.

The afternoon was spent confirming this was true.  Bearah Tor was breathtaking in it's scale.  An elongated series of outcrops stretching almost a kilometre.  As I observed at Rough Tor in March, the landscape appeared immaculate, as if undisturbed for centuries.  I mean that on the macro scale, not just in the geological sense.  Granite had weathered, crumbled, and lay untouched in small caves. Erosion, apart from in the peat near water sources, and near gateways wasn't obvious.  Ferns, grasses, and other upland plants grew tall between boulders.  The absence of feet - human and animal - and hands (Letterboxers) was staggeringly clear.

Approaching Kilmar Tor, the legacy of the Cornish quarrying industry came into focus.  Steve pointed out perhaps the last active quarry in the region high on Bearah Tor, and then the old railway line.  I had one landmark in sight though: High Rock.  From below, it didn't look that high, but on closer inspection, this was at least as impressive as the Cheesewring.  A teetering, balanced, natural wonder on the very apex of the ridge.  That I may find a letterbox upon it's summit was the only incentive I needed!

Kilmar Tor itself is another knife edge ridge of rough granite and even rougher vegetation, with a trig point hidden among it's outcrops.  At this point, Steve and I decided to call it a day.  We walked 15 miles, and found 19 Letterboxes.  I was once again bowled over by this diminutive Moor, and am already planning my next adventure.

Cheers Steve!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Firm favourite

I think I have found a new favourite place on the moor!  Come to think of it, I have many favourites, but this one, not previously among them, has possibly just edged it.  I hadn't previously considered Rippon Tor to be a regular peak to visit.  Situated beyond a wall in a 'forbidden zone' for Dartmoor Letterboxes, I felt little desire to make the trek.  That said, I've always appreciated the Tor: A recognisable landmark to the East, with a summit trig point that features in clues up and down the moor.

My most recent walk took me to the area around Bag Tor (another forbidden tor) and Saddle Tor - so I took the chance in the sunshine to wander up to Rippon and see what I could see.  And, wow, what a view! Rippon Tor is quite high, relative to the surrounding peaks.  At 473 metres, it looks down on a vast swathe of Devon.  Off to the South, cargo vessels in the channel could be seen.  Lyme Bay to the East was visible, as were the hills of Exmoor.  The Dartmoor skyline was equally impresive: from Penn Beacon above Plymouth past Princetown, Hameldown, on up to Meldon Hill above Chagford.  Below me were the far busier highpoints of Haytor, yet I sat in crowd-free bliss for nearly an hour soaking up the sight.

I don't resent the lack of Letterboxing on Rippon Tor,  There are plenty of items and artefacts to hunt out up there.  Dartmoor's only incumbant stone cross carved in relief into the granite bedrock is on the summit here.  Millstones, cairns and the Nutcracker make worthwhile distractions.

My Letterbox walk garnered 14 stamps including a couple that had gone unfound for several months.  This is surely an area that deserves further visits soon!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Damp

In my July 2015 post: "New clues: A walk of snipe", I included a warning, namely
"Please, please use common sense as you walk around between 4 and 6.  The dry season does not make the terrain any easier!  The pools around Rattlebrook Head and Lyd Head are deep, but can be very easily circumnavigated.  You have been warned!"
In hindsight, I realised that these words weren't that in-keeping with clue releases of mine or others, so I thought I would just provide a short explanation.  In two previous series, including last year's 'Depths of Winter' boxes I have read comments written in my visitors books, critical of the soggy route that the walk took.  I didn't take offence at the comments, but was left feeling that they were, perhaps, a little unnecessary.  In both previous occasions, as in my most recent series, the wet ground in question could very easily be circumnavigated.  Dartmoor is inherently wet underfoot.  The Dartmoor we know and love is what it is because of the environment, the weather, the weathering caused by water and ice.  I appreciate anyone finding my Letterboxes, I hope that my routes are not dangerous or unpleasant, and would hope that general common sense is applied when out on the moor, reading the lie of the land, taking the best path.

I have had one email already from a Letterboxer who admitted wilfully ignoring my advise and sinking up to their waist in a bog at Rattlebrook Head.

Take care out there!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

August: Reasons to be cheerful


August is a month to revel in, to enjoy and exploit on Dartmoor.  Bird breeding has ended, and this will delight Letterboxers who have been detered from certain areas of the moor by the authorities due to the nesting habits of some rare - and not so rare - Dartmoor birdlife.  Lambing season too has officially ended, and this will please the dog owners who can now ditch the short leads, and (responsibly) let there dog roam free - until next March at least.

The MOD are off for their annual month long break from training in the three Military Ranges. No live firing will take place during August, therefore no Range will be subject to day or night closure.  Therefore, no mistimed North moor letterbox walks!  Also, the days are still long - sunset at the end of the month is still around 8pm - perfect for distant North Moor jaunts.  Met Office data indicates August has, on average, the driest and warmest weather of the year in the South West.  Which after the dreary July we've just had, is most welcome.

If you need further reason to visit Dartmoor this month: August sees many events take place. Okehampton and Chagford shows, and Dartmoor Folk Festival to name just three.  Sure, the kids are off school, and the roads are busier, but what better excuse do you need to grab some Letterbox clues and delve deep into the moor on a Summer's day.  Go forth and explore!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

New Clues: A walk of snipe

Here are my Summer Letterbox clues,  This is a series of Letterboxes around Woodcock Hill on Dartmoor's North West corner.  Snipe are any one of 25 wading birds, including Dartmoor residents, the curlew and woodcock.  A 'walk' is their collective noun, and this series recognises the birds and the long distance paths that cross the Moor.  The route is about 7 miles in length beginning and ending at Prewley Water Works.  Of course, your route can be extended, or walked in different sections.  Please, please use common sense as you walk around between 4 and 6.  The dry season does not make the terrain any easier!  The pools around Rattlebrook Head and Lyd Head are deep, but can be very easily circumnavigated.  You have been warned!


No.1

No.2

No.3

No.4

No.5

No.6

No.7

These boxes have been removed from the moor.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A rush around Rattlebrook


On the last day of June, reflecting on a very hectic month, I realised that my sole trip to the Moor this month was so fleeting, so brief, that I didn't even blog about it.  What better time to address this!

As time was short - I had to work an evening shift back in Truro - I rushed to the nearest point of Dartmoor by car.  Sourton Tors.  Boots already on and laced, I was eager to get walking.

The military firing was taking place, so my route was hemmed in to the North West corner.  The weather was fantastic,  if a little breezy.  Cotton grass flapped in the wind, as though held down against it's will.  A temporary army radio post at Sourton's trig actually required tethers to keep it on the ground.

My path took a steady climb up towards Great Links Tor, following the former Rattlebrook Peat Railway to the end of the line.  The line was completed in 1879, but alas the operation was never particularly profitable.  The tracks and sleepers were removed in the 1930s, and the buildings, deemed unsafe, were demolished by the military in 1961.  Mother nature is yet to reclaim the ruins, the scars on the environment still raw and vegetation free.  Rusty iron pipes and tanks, concrete plinths and scattered bricks litter the site.  Time was ticking, I couldn't hang around, so I turned for home.

The route back to the car was a direct one, straight over the summit of Woodcock Hill bypassing Tiger's Marsh and Lyd Head.  Woodcock Hill is not one for landmark spotters, with no landmarks or features to speak of.  The distant outcrop of Branscombe's Loaf was my aim, though the deep, uneven, and occasionally boggy terrain made a straight walk difficult.

As I approached the moor's edge, the views became ever more extensive towards the West and North. The chasm of the West Okement valley came into view too.  At the Loaf I could survey the famous ridge opposite, totally devoid of people thanks to the effect of the MOD flags in Okehampton Range. A final run (swift walk) down the flank of Corn Ridge to the car, and the walk was complete.  With 6 boxes found, and another objective achieved.

I hope that July is slightly less busy, and with a predicted good weather, a more productive letterboxing month too.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Tranquility base

If the hustle and bustle of modern life is getting a bit much, and the stresses and strains of city living are weighing you down, read on.  If you feel like you need an escape, I think I've found the perfect place for you.  Obviously it is on Dartmoor!  I've found the national park is the perfect antithesis to everyday life.  It appears some talented architect agrees with me!

Riddon Brake is located at the northern end of Riddon Ridge, about half a mile from the village of Bellever and 2 miles from Postbridge.  It benefits from moorland views, almost 7 acres of land, a semi-wooded location, and open plan, timber construction.  A detached, 4-bedroomed, modern build with stables, workshop and paddocks to bring out the pioneer in you.

Stags Estate Agent of Totnes are advertising the property (Details here: www.rightmove.co.uk) which went on the market at the beginning of this month.  I expect this extraordinary £635,000 tranquil location to be snapped up, so book your viewing appointment early!  Or at the very least, imagine breakfast on your deck overlooking the East Dart,  See you at the estate agent!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Battle plans Part VI

The view North East from Holming Beam flagpole
Many months have passed since we have heard about the Ministry of Defence plans for Dartmoor's military training ranges.  The latest news comes courtesy of the Dartmoor Steering Group.  This group works in partnership with the MOD to encourage mutually agreeable use of the moor by the armed forces.  Many important stakeholders are represented on this group, who meet annually: The National Park Authority,  Duchy of Cornwall and Dartmoor Commoners Council to name just three.  Their most recent meeting was in November 2014 at Okehampton Camp.  

Following their own guidelines, the Dartmoor Steering Group publish the minutes of their meetings on the internet, usually within just a few weeks.  Today, after I tweeted the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) for them, the minutes from November's meeting have finally been published online here: Dartmoor Steering Group minutes; November 2014

If you've been following my Battle Plans posts over the past 4 years, you will know how much work was due for investment, but how budget cuts and delays were experienced in almost every scheme. One beacon of hope came in 2012, when the Dartmoor Steering Group had reassurance from the MOD that funding was secured for the work to replace Holming Beam hut.  Holming Beam hut looks like a temporary structure, situated at the end of a long metalled track north of Princetown.  Even in 2011, this building was considered to be reaching the end of it's useful life.  The Holming Beam area planned redevelopment including a less visually obtrusive mobile lookout and relocated flagpole appeared a real success story.  In 2014, HRH the Prince of Wales appointed architects to design the replacement building and consultation had begun.  With MOD funding to be made available in the 2013-4 financial year, construction would proceed in the year 2016-7.

However, and to quote the group's chairman: "disappointment and...significant annoyance" greeted the announcement from the DIO representative present at November's meeting that, despite the earlier assurances, funding for Holming Beam would not be available for another 2 years.  It was also suggested that the stakeholders may be forced to restate their case for any replacement, despite having done so repeatedly before.  Landscape, public safety, and visual obtrusiveness are key reasons given for both the redevelopment and for the wider Dartmoor byelaw review to include relocation of several flagpoles, huts and lookouts.

In May 2015, after a UK election result indicating further years of public spending cuts, any MOD investment in Dartmoor National Park's ranges will surely be scrutinised further.  Any byelaw review is unlikely until 2018, and the MOD's '2010-2020 Integrated Rural Management Plan' planned 2015 review, one suspects, is going to be a frustrating read.  When, and if any review is published, I'll report again.

See also:
Battle plans;
Battle plans Part II;
Battle Plans Part III - Any clearer?;
Battle Plans Part IV;
Battle Plans Part V

Monday, 11 May 2015

Nostalgia


I am simply thrilled with my latest purchase of a few Dartmoor Letterboxing antiquities. Namely, copies of Letterbox catalogues dating from Autumn 1985 to Spring 1991.  The 100 Club's official clue book - first published in May 1983 - was not quite the publication of more recent years.  

Firstly there is the old book's Latin subtitle: 'Ludus tantum est' roughly translated as 'Its only a game'. Godfrey Swinscow, the 100 club founder always considered Letterboxing to be just this.

Also, the clue for 'Watern Tor' - Registered as box number 1 with the 100 Club, and therefore not to be confused with Cranmere Pool, which is registered number 12 - is still listed in these earliest catalogues. 

The earliest copy I obtained is the 5th edition, printed on October 2nd 1985.  In this copy we are informed that Tigers Marsh letterbox (registered number 89) had been removed from the moor or lapsed into disrepair since the Spring.  Several of the first 100 registered boxes still feature in the clues though.  Rules in this book are scarce: although the importance of ensuring it's security and that no copy falls into the hands of vandals is repeated. This is just a pamplet consisting of  76 pages and listing all 879 registered Letterboxes then on Dartmoor.  It was part of an auction site lot combined with all subsequent catalogues up to 1991 - by chance when our own personal collection of catalogues start.  

The search is now on for even earlier editions!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Active Dartmoor article


The latest issue of Active Dartmoor magazine is out NOW.  Grab a copy, turn to page 18 and you'll find a segment on 'Getting Started in Letterboxing' written by me!

This came about after I was contacted by Jen - a co-owner of the magazine last year.  After a bit of consultation and numerous drafts and proof-reads I submitted the completed piece and I am thrilled with the finished article.  You can find the seasonal magazine at pubs, hotels, cafes, attractions and events on Dartmoor, or it is available to read online via the magazine website: 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Spring Meet 2015

The 72nd Meet took place this past weekend.  It has been 37 years since Letterboxing's first Meet at the Forest Inn near Hexworthy.  A Dartmoor pub which has since closed, but up for sale for just a £1!

The bi-annual gathering now calls Lee Moor Village Hall home.  I did attend.  It was great to catch up with some familiar faces, and purchase the new catalogue.

The introduction to the new book of clues offers an update on Godfrey Swinscow - the 'father' of modern Letterboxing.  In the 1980s as the burgeoning hobby threatened to incur the wrath of the National Park, it was 'God' who stepped in and created the 100 club and the concept of registering boxes.  Godfrey - who celebrated his 96th birthday on Sunday - now resides in a Devon residential home with his wife, Anne.  He still has an interest in Letterboxing, albeit by only enjoying looking at stamps brought in by his visitors.  It was fantastic to hear how Godfrey is doing, as it has been so long since the last update.

With charity walks bought, Letterboxing routes must now be planned for the Lyd Valley, Cox Tor and Mel Tor areas.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Getaway - Part III

My final far-flung Letterboxing excursion was to the closest National Park neighbour - Exmoor. Think of Exmoor and you may think of Lorna Doone or the Valley of the Rocks, Lynton & Lynmouth or perhaps Johnny Kingdom and the red deer.  I'd always considered Exmoor, away from the coastline to be characterised by tight valleys and grassy upland, far less rugged than Dartmoor.  I was keen to discover if my preconceptions were true.


I'd found two clues for boxes around Wood Barrow via Gamblenet.  This grassy hill sits to the West of the park, and the summit cairn straddles the Devon - Somerset border. It also is located on the Tarka Trail, an undefined long distance path that links the North coast with Dartmoor.  My walk up to Wood Barrow followed this trail from the main road at the Edgerley Stone - one of several uncut, local rocks intended to mark the 13th century boundary of the Royal Forest of Exmoor, but now marks the county line.  It is inscribed with 'F Isaac', 'F Bray', and an OS benchmark.

Wood Barrow is 470 metres above sea level - the highest of my out-of-area summits.  This puts it about the same height as Longaford Tor, but Exmoor's highest point - Dunkery Beacon - off to the East is one of the Southern England's highest points.  

The letterboxes were sited in the nearby Woodbarrow Hangings - a deep twisting combe winding off to the North.  One box, with just a six figure grid ref was found quickly and on site. Well hidden, and with just a dozen or so entries in the visitors book, this box has remained undiscovered for much of it's 23 years (!) on the moor.  The other box proved more elusive, and I failed to find it.  I suspected, as with many boxes on Bodmin Moor, it was missing, and this was due to the 10 figure grid reference it offered.  Anyone with a smartphone and a free App could locate this box, since the clue is widely available.  This is surely the same fate Dartmoor Letterboxes face with full grid references.


The views from the rim of Woodbarrow Hangings were impressive in the late afternoon sunshine.  The Bristol Channel is close by, and is full of ships, mostly large cargo vessels.  The narrow channel allowed views beyond to the Welsh mountains - a Letterboxing destination that would have to wait.  My route back to the car was via the absurdly named Pinkery Pond.  Pinkery is a local disambiguation of Pinkworthy (this IS North Devon!).  The manmade pond dams the River Barle, though the purpose for this 19th century creation remains unknown although several theories exist.

Heading South, down the river valley, I passed the Pinkery Youth Hostel and Outdoor Adventure Centre.  Clearly a significant investment has been made here in both the building and in a wind turbine to provide electricity.

This is a beautiful corner of Devon, and though it has much in common with the Moor next door, it is yet so different - not least in the geology - which is predominately shale, sandstone and slate.  The trip to Exmoor was well worth it.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Getaway - Part II

View from the Bishop of Barf
With a week's annual leave, I put aside my studies for a while and made a long overdue visit to some friends in the North of England. This also provided me with an opportunity to attempt (again) Letterboxing in the Lake District. I've been here before.  I used to live in Keswick, in Northern Lakeland, and I have tried, unsuccessfully, on more than one occasion to find Letterboxes around here.  This time would surely be different.

The Bishop of Barf, or Bishop Rock
There are now longer lists of boxes in the National Park, but to cast my net wider still, I approached some Letterboxers who had links to the Lake District.  Perhaps they had knowledge of existing Letterboxes.  One reply sounded perfect...  last confirmed on site 2-and-a-half years ago by the owner...  No more than a mile from the road...  Hidden with a bottle of beer...  Lets go!

This particular box belongs to 'The old man of the Moor' aka 86 year-old Ken of Tavistock.  He has been Dartmoor Letterboxing for many decades, but has visited family in Applethwaite every year for 40 years.  Nearby, and on the steep, loose scree slopes of the absurdly named hill 'Barf' is a local landmark.  A bright white painted rock.  This is Bishop's Rock.  Legend has it that the Bishop of Derry wagered in a local hostelry that he could ride his horse to the summit of Barf via this direct, craggy route.  The rock stands at a point where both hapless horse and rider stumbled, and fell to their deaths.  Every few years, the local mountain rescue and other volunteers scramble up the hill to repaint the rock, which is visible for miles around.

Ken's Letterbox & Beer
In 1993, Ken climbed up to the 'Bishop of Barf' and sited a letterbox of the same name.  He informed me that the box was found sporadically during the early 21st century, and his last visit was in September 2012.  On this occasion he left a stamped addressed postcard to himself for the next visitor to return, and a bottle of local Jennings Beer.  He was yet to receive the card back so assumed it remained unfound.

Don't look down!!
Barf is located on the opposite side of the valley to Skiddaw - England's 4th highest mountain.  Barf is not so high, but quite dramatic.  At 460 metres, Barf is about the same height as Three Barrows, but the car park is at 60 metres altitude and only 400 metres distant from the summit.  You must understand that the gradients are unmatched on Dartmoor!  When asked by Ken if I wished to find his box, he did enquire if I was scared of heights, and advised against any decent from the rock, less I wished to lose the backside of my trousers!

View from Barf summit over Bassenthwaite Lake
The descent route
The box is sited 60 paces from a lone Rowan tree, named by Alfred Wainwright as the 'solitary tree'. On it's trunk I could make out some familiar, carved initials of OMOTM - the Old Man Of The Moor, not far from Bishop Rock. I found the box, and the beer, both on site and in great condition.  I pocketed the postcard, stamped the visitors book, and took a few copies of the stamp in rapidly worsening weather.  Hiding the box again, I considered how right Ken's advice was!  The box is about halfway up the slope.   I was between a rock and a hard place. So far this was a proper scramble. Above me, this terrain continued, with a semi-rock climb in gale force winds with rain and sleet pelting me as I approached the summit.  I am full of admiration of Ken who completed this route in 2012 in his mid-80s.  I collapsed in a heap upon reaching shelter near the summit cairn, struggling to catch my breath.

I took the walkers path back to the car, which was more like a stream and was very slippery in places.  

The day had proved that Lake District Letterboxing has little in common with Dartmoor Letterboxing.  Thoroughly enjoyable and hugely rewarding. Hard work, and potentially hazardous though.  The beer, unfortunately, didn't taste so good after it's long wait...

'Solitary tree' (centre) and Bishop Rock (bottom right) from descent route
The direct ascent route to the Bishop of Barf.
Next up: Exmoor