Guest blog: Geocaching; a modern day treasure hunt!
If you enjoy the great outdoors with a side of adventure thrown in, then Geocaching could be a new hobby for you. From simple strolls around your neighbourhood to discovering new places, enjoying scenic walks or even scaling Munro’s, there’s a geocache to be found.
To find out more about this exciting and adventurous activity, we caught up with Ann Proctor, who has recently created a circuit around the Chapelton Trail for all to enjoy…
What is geocaching?
“Think of it like a modern day treasure hunt guided by a GPS enabled device (usually your mobile phone). Geocaches are waterproof containers hidden in a specific location that you are guided to by means of coordinates, which have been uploaded by the hider to the Geocaching application.
“Along with coordinates and a map of the area, there will be information provided about the individual cache, a difficulty and terrain rating and a helpful hint to point you in the right direction! Once at the location you undertake a search to find this container, which can vary in size and shape.
“Inside the container there will be a log book for you to date and sign and usually some treasure in the form of small trinkets left by the cache owner or other geocachers who have visited it too. The general rule of thumb is if you take a trinket, you should leave something of similar or greater value – erasers, badges, bubbles, marbles etc are always nice for kids to find!
“Re-hide the cache as you found it for the next geocacher to come along, there’s lots of us! The last step, which can be done at home, is to log this find on the Geocaching app. You will be rewarded with a yellow smiley face on the map and feel a huge sense of achievement.”
How long has Geocaching been about?
“This hobby has been enjoyed by many for around 22 years. Its humble beginnings, a solitary cache in Oregon, quickly spread to 75. Today that figure is closer to 3million worldwide, you can literally enjoy this hobby anywhere you go!
“I personally started caching six years ago to have a cheap and easy hobby to do with my then young sons. Caching has taken us to many lovely locations and hidden gems over the years that we would otherwise never have known about. Some abroad on holiday and some right on our doorstep.”
How do you start?
“I believe there are a few applications available, but I downloaded the free and official Geocaching app to my mobile phone. From there, you create an account with an email address and a unique username, this will allow you a basic membership with access to a limited number of nearby caches.
“If you become slightly obsessed with this new hobby, there is an option to upgrade your membership to premium, which for about £20 per annum, will allow you access to all the various types of caches. For more information, I recommend visiting Geocaching.com.
“Once you are all set up you can create a list of caches you’d like to attempt on your outing. By downloading the offline data at home, it will be readily available when you are out and about and not reliant on using precious mobile data.
“Finally, pack a rucksack, you will need a pen, tweezers (some caches are tiny), trinket swaps and I recommend taking hand gel and baby wipes too. Throw in a picnic and you are good to go!”
Are there caches around Chapelton?
“To mark my sixth year of Geocaching, I have created a caching circuit around the beautiful Chapelton Trail. This circuit consists of eight caches of varying sizes, five of which are available to all basic members.
“This is an ideal trail for families with easily accessible containers and can be completed in one outing, which would take about an hour or in a few shorter walks with little people!
“So all that is left to do is pack that rucksack and step outside. Happy caching!”