Waterways Letterboxing—the hunt is on!

Published: Monday, 30 May 2011

LETTERBOXING brings a breath of fresh air into our somewhat strange modern world. We can be ourselves, do our own thing, slow down, let our hair down, be a bit eccentric if we want, writes Doug Maas.

We can do it our own way—nobody need bother us and we won't bother anybody else. As narrowboaters we are surely in tune with all that already.

We can enjoy a refreshing change from what life often has to offer these days. There's no profiteering commercial interest. No club to join. No rules and regulations. No busy-bodying do-gooders trying to make you do something their way. No Big Brother. Nothing difficult. Just an opportunity to add extra interest, intrigue and zest to our enjoyment of the waterways.

How it started

In 1854 a Dartmoor Guide, John Perrott, left a jar amongst a pile of stones at remote Cranmere Pool in the centre of the moor. He left his own visiting card in it and encouraged other visitors to find the spot and do the same. This was the beginning of a phenomenon which began slowly but has steadily gathered pace during the past 150 years, now repeated in thousands of significant places all over Dartmoor—and now in many areas of the country and overseas.

That jar was soon replaced by a hidden box (Letterbox). Such boxes typically contain a small Visitors Book and the means to exchange a ‘Stamp' impression or other mark with discoverers who are 'in on the game'. Boaters, ramblers, waterway societies, groups, charities, waterside businesses, pubs, etc. can all participate and benefit. Anyone can do it, be they nine months or 90 years old!.

The letterboxing hobby is such an interesting pastime—just perfect for our waterways.

A passion

It remains an intriguing, refreshingly informal, simple and unregulated hobby. And like on Dartmoor, it evolves and builds up its own mystique and folklore. For many, it's a passion—it's easy to catch the 'bug'. Inland Waterways Letterboxing has its own unique features for you to enjoy. Ask Letterbox Doug for more information at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PS: To Brian (In the Pink)—you left base without letting me know! Just missed you. This is right up your street—or cut.