Geocaching has been around since the year 2000 and only now, 19 years later I find myself discovering the joy and benefits of it. I first felt that it was too late in my life– I always believed I had to have orienteering skills, to have belonged to a scout group or achieved a Duke of Edinburgh award, to take part, and it was something you do when you’re a kid or with children yourself.
It wasn’t until it was explained to me and shown how simple it was to get started and take part, that I fully realised the benefits and how much fun it was to do. (There are millions of users on the Geocaching.com site around the world and it is simple to download the Geocache App for your phone – click here for more).
The first one that we set out to discover made my inner child jump with excitement and it reconnected me to my wild side again, the one who loves to explore. If you haven’t done this sort of thing before, don’t be put off, there are so many Geocaches out there in all sorts of places. Knowing that you don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere to find a Geocache and start your discovery is a huge perk. Very easily you might find one just down your street, or in your nearby park or green space, when you start to look. You don’t have to get knee deep in scrub and brambles to join in on the activity. In fact a few of our recent Geocache hunts didn’t take us too far off the beaten path!
One of our Geocache outings took us to the area of Churston with varying success. One we just had to give up on, whether it had been moved or whether it was just too hard to find among the trees and another we weren’t as equipped to climb and clamber for it (making sure you have the right footwear and prepare for the weather is a must, like any walk or planned adventure outside). But it was really good fun, and the time slipped away as we were absorbed in what we were doing
It is not something you can get wrong, either. There are always hints if you find it difficult. For one Geocache we needed to look through a years’ worth of comments from other ‘players’ (with photos and descriptions they uploaded) in order to find it. Nevertheless I found it addictive. When you find one and you feel you have ‘won’ you want to do it again. It’s a feel good feeling to find treasure!
My first geocache
Our first Geocache was one of a series around Saunton Down called Saunton Down Way. What I immediately like about this is that if you are inspired to do a circular walk, it is very easy to incorporate it in to an already mapped out walk on the Geocache site, but with the added fun of finding treasure or “caches”.
As I start I am handed my phone and on my screen was the location of the first cache. Once you click on it you get a description of the cache and what you are likely to find. I could then navigate to the cache using the phone’s GPS, either showing a line and distance in metres or using the ‘compass’ which shows you the direction you need to head in, like you are on a mini expedition! I favoured the latter.
Image taken from the Geocaching.com app
Having never done this before I really didn’t know what to expect to find or what It was I was looking for, or even how, I was going to find it! I was also uncertain how difficult it was likely to be. This filled me with trepidation and I couldn’t help but feel a bit silly at first. But I was also intrigued. So, we embarked on the journey, and as the compass swung around as I got my bearings, I soon hit the right direction to head in and I watched the metres drop down. Then I begun to get excited and I started to feel the kid inside me leap with anticipation. The spark of youth flashed in my eyes and my feet and I was soon engulfed in the play of treasure hunting.
We reached the area and the accuracy of metres became a little vague at this point – as it gets to around 5m you know the area you need to be searching around. It is then like looking for a needle in a haystack! Except, thankfully, the needle was in the form of a small camouflaged box. What is useful about the app is that you are not alone and using the ‘hint’ option which you can locate on the cache’s page, can be of real value. The creativity of the hint can make it more fun too, when you find the hint is in the form of a riddle.
Image taken from the Geocaching.com app
On this particular hunt we reached a fence and this is where we searched. At first I was looking around the obvious places, in small gaps in the walls and tucked in bushes. But, with the help of the hint we were able to observe in more detail what was around us and soon found the cache in the foliage on the end of a piece of sailing rope tied to the fence. Genius! I thought the hiding method was unique and very inventive, making the experience that little more interactive. It was also surprising to find that it was a little Tupperware box full of little objects people had left as small ‘prizes’ (which the Geocache website suggests you can take and replace with your own). My expectation was of a big rusting box, covered in webs, sadly neglected. This was not the case.
The most decorated cache we found on this day of discovery however had to be the beach huts. This took a surprising amount of time to find – especially as the box adorned by a row of brightly coloured wooden beach huts on the front. But this is what struck me the most – how people use their creativity in small ways, but that really stand out and the way something as small as this can bring a smile and sense of connectedness to the activity. It also really gets you to look and observe the environment around you, and encouraging you to think outside the box.
If you are uncertain, try to suspend your scepticism for one hour and try the next one down the road. If you are keen and want to know more, download the app and get going - It is free to join and start your adventure! For more ‘How’ and ‘why’, click here to go to our how to guide to help you set up for the first time.