Monday, 26 December 2011

Happy Boxing Day!

Ahhh, Boxing Day! Its better than Christmas Day, isn't it? For us, getting out on the Moor and stretching the legs is as good as Christmas. We wanted to collect Dartmoor Chris' 3 day boxes from the Combestone area, and we also has a route planned around the Happy Valley and Water Hill.

The 3 day boxes were still on site, and judging by the wear around the sites, they've been visited frequently during the holiday weekend. I express my surprise that they are still on site, since 10 figure grid references and clues in the public domain normally suggest: box thief. The stamps were 'old school' Christmas stamps - hand cut classic festive designs, with separate message and location stamps. Really nice.

The Happy Valley, South of the Warren House Inn (pictured) was damp and breezy, but we hid down here until the fog on Water Hill and Assycombe Hill cleared. Which it did in time. We had success finding boxes too. By the time we approached Caroline Farm, the full panorama was visible and since bearings were achievable, repeated our letterboxing success up to (and on one instance, into) Fernworthy Forest.

At the summit of Assycombe Hill, we looked back at Water Hill's cairn with Hookney Tor beyond, to see the only other humans on the moor today, aside from those in their cars zipping along the B3212.

Thats strange. Doesn't everyone else know its Boxing Day?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

When the going gets tough...

...the tough head for Dartmoor's boundaries. Thus avoiding the worst of the weather and Winter's shortest days. WITC retreated to the valley of the Becka Brook for our latest walk. Beginning close to the brook's head at Hemsworthy Gate, we walked North passing the Seven Lords Lands cairn, Emsworthy Rocks and Smallacombe.

The fog was coming and going. We could catch fleeting glimpses of Haytor Rocks, and as it cleared, we also spotted the figures atop it's summit and imagined their excitement to finally enjoy the view.
We scraped through the wet bracken on the Northern slopes of Black Hill, and descended an ancient Byway to Leighon, before crossing the Becka Brook and took the footpath towards Southcott. A Winnie the Pooh fan obviously lives round here, since we passed a house named "Where the Woozle Wasn't"!

At Hayne Cross we climbed back up to the moor at Hayne Down. This hill of outcrops, logan stones and Bowermans Nose. We always have success finding boxes up here. The weather was closing in, and Haytor Rocks was no longer visible. So we turned for home.

Taking the road to Swallerton Gate, and traversing the sodden Hound Tor to the Hundatora medieval village. Despite the damp conditions on a school day, Hound Tor was still alive with families clambering over the rockpiles, shouting and laughing - a giant granite climbing frame.
Passing Greator Rocks and recalling our visit here last year in similarly dismal conditions (see post: Retrieved, 10th August 2010), and today's visit was almost as swift. We descended to the Becka Brook, just a quiet babbling stream up here, below Holwell Tor. Splashing across the ford and disturbing a pack of obviously disgruntled twitchers, we struck off for Saddle Tor hoping to finish the day on a high. The low light beat us to it though, and we were forced to abandon the walk before the summit. 12 miles through the lanes and tracks of the Eastern moor has never felt so good. 13 boxes found.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Full grid references: The end?

A quote from the latest catalogue update:
"It is with regret that I announce a change to the way the update is presented. I will no longer give anything more than a 6 figure grid with a clue unless expressly told by the owner of the box to give anything different to this. If anyone wants their information already in the catalogue updating in this way please let me know and I will pass this on to Silvia Moore."

It appears that the letterbox thief receives the updates. Who could possibly consider entering more than 6 figure grid references once it becomes clear that only more detailed clues go missing?? Take, for example, the case of 'Christmas Around Kings Tor'. In November's catalogue update, clues for this 10 box Christmas walk were released with 8 and 10 figure grid references. A month later - with still 3 weeks to go till Christmas - they've all been stolen.

So, that is surely the beginning of the end for letterboxes with full grids. Our new Dakota 10 GPS might soon be relegated to purely navigation and emergencies. It'll be like old times. Just a compass, clues and perseverance required. I can't but feel slightly excited by the thought. Hopefully we'll see more boxes on site and more productive days letterboxing as a result.