In praise of the Ex­moor ‘postie’

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country - KG

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.’

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