Competition: Follow the clues of Holmes

TOMORROW, Royal Mail marks the centenary of the death of Sherlock Holmes with the launch of a set of special stamps. Five 24p stamps depict scenes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. They are unusual not only in being inspired by a fictional character, but also because they contain an element of mystery.

In keeping with the theme, the stamps incorporate a challenge to decipher some clues. Over the next five days, the Independent will be running an exclusive competition with Royal Mail to test your powers of detection. Each day this week, one stamp will be featured, beginning with The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Your first task will be to find the five letters hidden somewhere in the scenes, one on each stamp. These letters should then be rearranged in an order with strong Holmesian connections. Your second, and more taxing, problem is to solve the five clues, saving your answers for the reply coupon which will be included, together with further hints, on Friday.

The winner will receive a week's holiday for two in Switzerland's beautiful Bernese Oberland region. Flying Swiss Air and travelling with Kuoni Travel, they will stay at the picturesque Park Sauvage Hotel, overlooking the Reichenbach Falls, where Conan Doyle himself stayed and plotted the death of his most famous creation. Accommodation is half board and must be taken between 1 April 1994 and 31 October 1994, subject to availability.

Three runners-up will win a copy of The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes, containing 56 stories and four novels, including The Hound of the Baskervilles. There will be 100 prizes of presentation packs of the stamps - a valuable addition to any collection, or a fine start to an interesting, inexpensive hobby.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The first stamp in this set celebrates perhaps the best known of the Sherlock Holmes stories, in which the desperate Sir Henry Baskerville called Holmes and Watson to Dartmoor to pit their wits against the dreadful Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Clue:

'That hound Baskerville has disappeared,' said Dr Watson angrily. 'We must track him down by examining the clues one by one.'

'Initially two at a time, I fancy,' replied Sherlock Holmes.

'Will the stamp help?' asked Watson. Sherlock Holmes thought for a moment before saying, enigmatically:

'Undoubtedly it edifies. Stamps attract esoterics.'

The Question:

Where had Baskerville fled?

Answers will be given and winners announced in the 8 November issue. Standard Independent competition rules apply.

(Photograph omitted)