In praise of the Exmoor ‘postie’
AS recently as 1970, post—and news and gossip—was delivered from village to village by foot, horseback and motorbike on Exmoor. The ‘postie’ also brought unofficial deliveries of newspapers, bread, tobacco and medicines and was a vital social link between some of the remotest farms.
The Exmoor Society is revisiting these old routes and, in the summer, sent an intern to walk some of them. This week, archivist Helen Blackman rode one 12-mile route, starting from the village of Withypool and taking in a circuit of farms around the Barle valley, borrowing native ponies from the Exmoor Pony Centre.
‘Investigating the old postal routes has been more than academic exercise— it’s very much a social history,’ explains Dr Blackman. ‘We can’t really understand the difficulties of communication on Exmoor, which persist to this day, without experiencing them.’