Friday, 31 December 2010

Days of Summer

As we've passed the shortest day and, on the eve of another year, WITC's thoughts have turned to plans and forthcoming walks.  Snow, ice and fog have restricted our walks of recent, but scanning through our scrapbooks, we were reminded of our routes last Summer.

One stand-out walk was to Snowdon, Broad Falls and Huntingdon Barrow in late June. The parking area near Scorriton was empty and the moor appeared deserted of people. A couple of Dartmoor icons made their entrance: a rangale of deer we spooked, and then we were buzzed by two of the Army's low flying, tank destroying Apache helicopters.

Emphasising our solitary wander, the desolate landscape and utter wilderness around us, was Huntingdon Warren Farm. A warren possibly as early as the 1600's and only demolished shortly after WW2.

The weather was warm, with a light breeze and patchy sunshine. The boxes were easy to find the happy skylarks tweeted, and the miles passed quickly underfoot. Ahhh... memories, eh?

Happy New Year everyone

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Seasons Greetings from WITC! This year, our Christmas Message goes out to the owners of Metheral Hill 7.

Your Dartmoor letterbox has had a good innings. In the near 20 years it has been out on the moor (so the sodden book suggests) it must have seen many visitors and several severe winters. Unfortunately, the smashed pot had become brittle since time, sunshine and mice have had their effect. We believed it should be brought in, and so we removed it. I'd love to say it is off to meet it's maker - the hand carved stamp was as good as new. If you are, or know of the creator - please inform them of our actions. WITC are not experts at removing other people's boxes. We are not thieves. We are just conciencious about litter on Dartmoor.

Similarly, if you know what box we have brought in, please let us know.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Who is responsible?

Dartmoor Chris has been in touch. He had planned to site some boxes on Dartmoor for just 3 days this Christmas. Due to the extreme weather we are suffering at the moment, these boxes will no longer be sited in the Gutter Tor area. To be exact, the email read:-

"Many roads around that area are far too dangerous to even attempt with snow and ice on them. I do not wish to cause you to damage your vehicles attempting to visit the boxes like last year at Holming Beam, where I understand that one or two of you did manage to allow the wall to jump out in front of you."

Thanks for thinking of us Chris. It made WITC wonder about who is responsible where letterboxing is concerned. Crashing the car on the way to the car park... Losing boots in the marsh... Twisting ankles in the clitter searching... Have legal issues ever arisen where charity or timed letterboxes are concerned? Such issues have to be dealt with where organised walks, such as the Abbots Way, OATS walk and Ten Tors are run. Charity walks have been released with advisories concerning river crossings, for example, before, but we have yet to see a cluesheet with disclaimers. A matter of time perhaps.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Taw

At last, we had a thaw in the snow. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is not brilliant, so we took the opportunity to get out on the moor. Our destination was Steeperton Tor. We parked in Belstone village and followed the East bank of the Taw upstream. The Easterly wind was biting, and there was still plenty of ice lying on the ground, but the sun shone and fortunately all boggy ground was solid.

At Ottery Tor we said hello to the only other walker we saw all day.

We progressed along the hillside crossing Small
Brook, then Steeperton Brook and up to the summit of Steeperton Tor. This peak has one of the best views on the moor. It felt like the wind had
dropped and we lingered at the flagpole, before descending to Bow Combe. Due to the short days, WITC had already planned for this route to be linear, and that there would be a straight-forward walk back to the car. Our route was 8 miles long. With just 18 boxes found.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Serving time

Is it curtains for Dartmoor Prison?

The bill just arrived. The lease to the Duchy of over £660,000 per year, and this despite the jail housing fewer than 500 inmates. With critical Government reports in recent years, it's crumbling structure with increasing maintenance costs and Public Sector cutbacks looming. Can this institution be supported any longer? Website has reported that it could be closed down and become a tourist attraction. A bizarre idea? Maybe. It might work though... The current prison museum is renowned as a good day out, but to see Dartmoor Prison - a world famous, historical building made into a popular 'Alcatraz' style must-see can only be good for Princetown and the region.