For anybody who goes letterboxing a visitor’s book will be nothing new but for those who are completely perplexed with the concept of ‘boxing’ this page might make things clearer. Letterbox visitor’s books come in all shapes and sizes but these days normally consist of notebook which is small and flexible enough to roll up into an empty pill-pot. When it was permissible to use old ammunition cans to put the stamp and book in they were large hard-backed books and made for an interesting keepsake for the owner – sadly those days have gone. The whole idea of the visitors book is to provide a means of showing that you have successfully located a letterbox by leaving your personal mark in it. This is done by way of your personal stamp which shows your letterboxing ‘handle’ or alias, mine is the Hunter of Gold as shown above. The other use for the visitor’s book is to leave the odd personal comment, date of visit or weather conditions during your visit. At one time people would often leave clues for other letterboxes in the back of the visitor’s book but as ‘boxing’ became more competitive some people would rip out the page in order that others couldn’t find the new box. One of the main aims of letterboxing is to be the first person to find a newly sited box and therefore the visitor’s book is a crucial part of this. The highest accolade is to be the first to ‘stamp in’ a pristine book which denotes the fact that you were the first finder. I suppose in a way it’s akin to a dog leaving his mark on a lamppost just to let other dogs know he’s out and about. When finding a letterbox it is also nice to look back through the visitor’s book to see who’s about and still actively boxing. Usually inside the front cover of a visitor’s book are the contact details (phone number or e mail address) of the owner this is in case the box gets damaged, wet or if there are any other problems with it. These days there seems to be a correlation between the number of visitors to a box and the distance it is sited into the moor. Namely that the remoter the letterbox site the less visitors it gets which could mean that fewer people are walking into these areas than once did? Unquestionably the most famous visitor’s books are those from the ‘official’ letterboxes that are marked on the OS map; Ducks Pool and Cranmere Pool (and although it’s not marked Fur Tor is another one). These really are well worth a read as not only do they date back many years but there are some famous entries and excellent poetical works within their pages.
Some boxers will stop at nothing in order for this to be achieved, it has been known for the first page of a book to be ripped out in order to make it look as if a different person was the first to stamp in. For anybody siting a box the way around this is to put their stamp on the first page then if it ever disappears they know that either the original page has been torn out or some kind person has replaced the original because it got wet.
But what does one actually write in a visitor’s book? Basically whatever takes your fancy as long as it’s not obscene or offensive, as if anyone would do so a thing? Personally I usually put the date of visit and a short thank you to the owner for putting out the box. As mentioned above, some people like to put the weather conditions at the time of their visit or possibly who they have seen or met on that day’s walk. Occasionally you will find a slip of paper that advertises a current charity walk or ‘tempter ads’ for some forthcoming boxes. If there is a series of say 10 boxes sited on a walk then to save money there will only be a visitor’s book in the first and last boxes. Quite often the box owner will put a stamp addressed postcard with the book, the idea of this is for the first visitor to stamp the card with their personal and post it back to the owner. Once recieved the card will let the owner know that their box has been found and that in order for that to have happened the clue and its bearings were correct. Such a card from one of my boxes is shown below:
I have recently brought in a box that was sited near Crane Lake and which had been out since last October, this will serve as an example of a visitor’s book and what one can expect to find in it. The box was called ‘The Dragon of the Moor’ and was sited near some tinner’s works known as ‘Dragon’s Lode’. As mentioned above the first page contains a contact address, copy of the stamp, my personal stamp and the stamp of the first visitors:
The next illustration is just a sample page from the book and as can be seen there were two visitors on the 4th of October which judging from the comments was a: “beautiful sunny day”. There were some more visitors on the 5th of October which it seems was also a sunny morning.
For reasons best known to themselves, some boxers like to stamp in on the back cover page which I suppose saves time thumbing through the book and it also makes it easier for other boxers to find out if that particular person has been to the box. I am not sure who ‘Dai A. Bollackle” is but presumably they’re some demon from across the bridge? Probably the picture of the dragon got them all excited enough to venture down to Dartmoor?