Family fun has been a bit short on the ground this summer, what with one thing or another. I had to root around in my head to think of something that we’ve all done together, all laughed, all been happy and all got what we needed from it. And the answer came, as it so often does, in one of the things that binds us all together in love, memories, the sunshine, exercise and a place we all adore – Dartmoor.
This year, the best fun we’ve had, as it has been so many other years, was to go Letterboxing together on Dartmoor. Letterboxing, if you are a person of the technological world only, is like geo-caching but without a GPS, a map, knowing where you are looking, clues or an end goal 😆 Dartmoor has, for the last 150 years or so, had boxes hidden discreetly across the moors in places as different as under rocks and behind the bar at a public house, in a castle shop or in a specially made “letterbox” in places as remote as Cranmere Pool, where the first letter was put in 1854.
The idea is that you scramble around the tors and rocks of Dartmoor, hunting under stones and behind rocks, doing things that would make the skin crawl on the Health and Safety officers at school and trying not to break limbs as you hunt for places that might be hiding a box. When Max and I first letterboxed together, there weren’t that many; these days places like Saddle Tor are heaving with them, to the point that it is probably almost litter. Luckily letterboxers on the whole seem to want to keep the place beautiful and tidy up any evidence of disaster pretty well. For the price of a pen and a pad and, if you feel so inclined, your own stamp and ink pad, you can spend hours finding boxes, reading the pads, leaving your mark and seeing who else you can spot who youâ€™ve already seen in another pad somewhere else. There are trails and clues in some, but the individual ones are more common. And, from our point of view, there are no tense moments where Daddy gets grumpy trying to input co-ordinates or the moments where you find you are in exactly the right place, just 800 ft lower than you need to be to get to the Geo-cache and all the children are hungry.
There would be such a thing as taking Letterboxing too seriously. The Letterbox Club, which you can join if you reach 100 stamps in your book, is light-weight compared to avid Geo-cachers or Munro Mountain collectors, for example. Its good family fun without the bother of technology or expensive thermals 😆
Weâ€™ve put our own Letterbox up on Kestor, a place dear to our hearts as it overlooks where Maxâ€™s Gran lived, marks the scene of the time Max and I got Very Lost Indeed in a sudden fog while camping in those pre-kid days and is a place where I love to sit, soak in the view and the moors and think of the children I donâ€™t have, while listening to the joy and laughter of the ones I do have. They scramble around the rocks. I donâ€™t look. Max tries to keep up with ever more athletic daughters. A perfect family day 😆
This year we found our own box again and the pad was nearly full. Next time weâ€™ll update it and Iâ€™ll whisper the name that wonâ€™t go on our introduction page to the wind and hope it carries across Dartmoor and twirls around all the places we love to go as a family.
The purpose of this sponsored blog post is to tell you about Pizza Hut, who are extending their â€œKids Eat Freeâ€ offer until January 9th 2011. We didnâ€™t eat at Pizza Hut on the way home from this day out, but if weâ€™d known, we might have! Letterboxing makes for hungry tummies and with the hollow legs of our 4 girls, getting one kids meal free with each paying adult would have been perfectly acceptable! For every adult main course or adult lunchtime buffet purchased, an accompanying child can choose from either a FREE 2 course kids meal (includes a drink) or a FREE kids lunchtime buffet (includes pizza, pasta and salad). Find more details about the offer at Kids Eat Free
Pizza Hut are also giving out offer codes in their restaurants which can be used here for reductions on family days out across the UK. On the bottom of any Pizza Hut Restaurant receipt you will find an offer code. Enter this code at http://www.pizzahut.co.uk/familyadventures to get great deals on a wide range of family activities and adventures including holidays, theme parks, zoos and more.
I’m not sure any day out can quite beat the serenity and delight I get from a day on Dartmoor; it is so many things in so many weathers, each part of it complete in its own way. I love it. Can’t recommend it highly enough. I have yet to try it with added pizza 😉
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