A focus on the future... funding and finance

We live in austere times.  Uncertainty, stagnation, a response to the great recession, political ideology, "Brexit", whatever the reasons, the UK's national parks are experiencing a purse-string-tightening unlike any other witnessed since their creation.
Central government - through DEFRA - fund our National Parks, and they provide the Park Authorities an annual budget in the form of a grant.  For Dartmoor, this grant was cut by 25% between 2010 and 2016.  Although it did rise slightly by just over 1.7% in 2017 to a total of around £3.6 million.  
Parking fees, other charges, external grant support and interest boost this figure by a further £1 million.  The National Park Authority are proud of their ability to source additional and external funding.  They have consistently delivered, albeit small, budget surpluses (leftover cash).  The park authority does though rely on partnerships and external funding sources to fulfil it's statutory requirements.  By joining for…

A focus on the future... flora and fauna

My 12 months of Letterboxing challenges is over.  I've challenged myself, and I feel more motivated than ever.  I've thought a great deal, and considered the hobby and it's place in my life a lot.  I've seen places, people, and 'boxes in a new and refreshing light.  I can focus firmly on the future.  I'm planning new series and new blog posts.
But what of this future?  What is Dartmoor going to look like?  What do the experts and the authorities say?  First up:
A changing climate
In the latest minutes of the Dartmoor Steering Group (from last November's meeting) the question was raised on how a changing climate was affecting vegetation on the Moor.  Vegetation which can both help and hinder Letterboxers and Letterboxing in equal measure.  Just witness how Wistman's Wood has doubled in size in the last 100 years.  See how the flora and fauna of Tavy Cleave has become impenetrable in places.  How gorse is flourishing in more favourable conditions.  
A Cli…

Challenge 12: ✔️ Achieved

Cranmere Pool and Duck's Pool. Two remote and wild locations. Two iconic and historic Letterboxes.
Established and endorsed by the establishment, marked on the maps. Maintained by Park Rangers and visited by "the masses".  Oh, and two woven badges are available - if you collect such things!
These two, sited some 85 years apart have come to symbolise the hobby for many people. A destination and a justification. A home in a far away land.
Perhaps it is no wonder that it is Cranmere Pool and Duck's Pool retain their lure on Letterboxers, walkers and other Moor users.  Reaching such mid-moor locations at any time of the year, especially midwinter, provides a target, a mission.  A challenge even.
Now, Cranmere Pool. There's somewhere I haven't been in some time...
This week, I carefully chose a weather window, between the snow and the ice and the gales, to visit the 'original' Dartmoor Letterbox.  I last vis…

Long time, no see

Duck's Pool - there's somewhere I haven't been in a while.  This was a thought that went round my head at New Year.  As I was bedridden with flu, I was mulling over the walks I wanted to do, and boxes I wanted to find early in 2018.

This one was top of my list.  You will remember that in June last year, I discovered the location of Duck's Pool's visitor's books, and took time to study the first one from 1938.  I recall reading comments from members of the Archaeological Exploration Society who had made regular visits from their field trip base at Redlake Tip.  I remember the dedication shown by the Dobson Moormen (who first created the permanent William Crossing Memorial and Letterbox at the Pool) to visit and maintain the site.

Yet I had not been to Duck's Pool in nearly 10 years.  Time to return.

I parked below Gutter Tor, near the scout hut, which on the day of my visit was home to a large number of military reservists, who were being put through their …

Challenge 11: ✔️ Achieved

Here we go then!
whoisthechallenger's Christmas Tree Walk
Statts Bridge

West Cottages 
Walla Brook

Vitifer Tin Mine

Warren House Inn
Water Hill 
Caroline Farm

This walk has now been removed from the Moor. 

I'll be back with the twelfth and final Challenge in January!  I'd like to wish all my blog readers a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 15th 2017

A Letterbox walk!! At last!!
Eager as ever to get out Dartmoor Letterboxing, as well as visiting somewhere slightly different, I've been building up to this one since the Meet. A charity walk - sited in aid of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust - was out around Bellever Tor and Lakehead Hill.  A unique area given: i) the interaction between conifers and granite in the landscape, ii) a wealth of bronze age antiquities of which many are incredibly well preserved and, iii) a location in the middle of the Moor with 360-degree views of higher, surrounding peaks.
I began my walk, as the highly detailed charity walk instructions prescribed: at Postbridge.  I was not alone at the car park.  Within moments though, I was, as the only other car owner walked their dog through the Forestry Commission gate, and drove away.  So I was in no doubt that the forest paths would be peaceful, my Letterboxing undisturbed and deer sightings would be probable.
Conditions were favourable, though the going u…

Challenge 10: ✔️ Achieved


I have made no secret of the excitement and enjoyment I've found on Bodmin Moor during my last few Letterboxing adventures to the area (here, here and here).  So now I have finally found an opportunity to site my own box there.

Finding a precise location to site a box, or choosing a subject to immortalise in embossing stamp isn't tough.  I decided on the River Fowey.  One of Cornwall's most important rivers.   This meandering river drains the Colliford and Siblyback reservoirs.  It passes Golitha Falls, Lanhydrock House, Lostwithiel and (obviously) Trago Mills.  It is a river rich in fish, military history, and gorgeous riverside walks.

But the River Fowey's source, on Bodmin Moor, seemed an obvious choice for a Letterbox.

Beginning my walk at a disturbingly deep ford on the road at Bowithick, near Altarnun, my short stroll took place on a day where hail, sleet, ice and snow were genuinely threatened.  T…