Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Saved for a rainy day

"Flood warnings as downpours hit UK".  "A month's rainfall due in one day".  "The wettest day of 2012".  We had been warned...  

WITC headed up the East Dart on a mission, yet only in search of a handful of boxes.  The forecast of blustery showers, and an optimistic nature meant that we were confident everything would be fine.  We weren't alone judging by a bustling Postbridge car park.  We set off up the true left bank, passing 

Hartland Tor, the sheepfold, the turn and the beehive hut.  We gained height quickly on the slopes of Lade Hill.  This ascent brought back memories of the O.A.T.S. walks we completed over a decade ago.  Some 15 miles into that marathon trail, it never failed to slow participants to a crawl.

On the summit, we turned East, and returned to the riverside at Sandy Hole Pass, before rounding Broad Marsh and crossing the slightly swollen East Dart river at Kit Steps.  

We climbed up to Flat Tor to survey the damage from recent works to Flat Tor Pan.  The Dartmoor Mires project has fenced off areas here in the name of conservation and research.  Their work is controversial because they have removed pieces of metal from a 1960's plane crash site.  Some argue that this metalwork is just another piece of Dartmoor's rich mix of archaeology, and should remain in situ, whilst those responsible for the work say it is necessary to remove it.

After splashing past the gates, fences, and land rover tracks, we passed over Broad Down and Braddon Tor and descended to Drift Lane and the familiar walk back to Postbridge.

Yes, the weather was kinder than had been predicted.  The hail showers and rain halted us in our paths at times, but the visibility was good, and it blew some cobwebs away.  Which was nice.  Hopefully the work at Flat Tor Pan will be completed quickly, and restoration will be thorough and swift.  I suspect more conflict is likely though.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

WITC Unveiled


My name is Ian and I am whoisthechallenger.

Who are you?  

Ian Barber.  I am the youngest, and the most active of the Dartmoor letterboxers known as The Upland Trotters.

What was this WITC thing all about?

I wanted to do so much more than just post occasional thoughts on a forum, and rued the lack of a decent UK letterboxing blog.  I thought I would create my own blog, but since the ramblings and views would be my own, and not those of my parents, I decided to do the whole thing anonymously.  Although I initially intended the blog would be more edgy and provocative, I came to the conclusion that I would be found out and it would not help me or the 'Uptrots'.  

I also guessed it would have more intrigue and appeal if I wrote it under a pseudonym.  I remember a witty,  anonymous letterboxing newsletter (not created by us) being circulated within a small circle of letterboxers several years ago , and I simply hoped to recreate just a bit of the mystery.  I'm not the big headed prat that some have suggested :D

The Upland Trotters personal stamp features 2 hillwalking characters.  My father is depicted out in front striding away, whilst my Mother is left exasperated further down the hill.  I was removed from the stamp in 1997 after leaving home.  Whilst mum fell out of love with letterboxing some years ago, my father regularly joined me on the walks detailed in this blog.  The final box we found together was the relationship box sited for The Upland Trotters near Pigs House in May 2011 ("Down, but not out" - May 2011).  My father sadly passed away, very suddenly, in June 2011, but I wanted to continue my blog in his honour.  I came to the decision that WITC would be more than an online letterboxing diary, and become my letterboxing identity.

I took the name whoisthechallenger from the book 'Yes Man' by author and presenter Danny Wallace.  WITC is the nemesis of the book's hero, but you'll have to read the hilarious book to find out who Danny's challenger was!

Why are you telling us all this now?

It was 21 years ago today that The Upland Trotters started letterboxing.  April 21st is therefore an important date in our calendar.  Also, my cover was blown, my identity was no longer secret.  It was only a matter of time before everyone discovered the truth.

So what is the future for whoisthechallenger?

This blog will carry on.  I will now letterbox as whoisthechallenger.  Please keep an eye out for my new personal stamp!  For those who have passed their WOM boxes on to The Upland Trotters, please forgive me/us!  My clues will be released next week - keep reading my blog for more details!  The Upland Trotters will also live on - mainly in spirit and perhaps on special occasions.

Thank you for reading my blog.