One of the reasons we started this blog was to focus more on exploring our local environment and see regional attractions. Sometimes this involves spending money on admission fees, but occasionally we come across a very low-cost option. This is where Geocaching came back in.
Geocaching is a mini exploration challenge that some one has set up for you to complete, nearly free of charge. The idea is that someone has hidden a “Cache” in a location, which you then have to find. You are given a clue to its location via a GPS pin point. Once you arrive at the location you need to hunt around to find hiding spots for the “cache”. When you find it you simply write your name on the piece of paper inside and log it on your Geocache App.
OK, I very much simplified it, but it is a basic hide and seek game to find a piece of paper to sign (then hide back in its location). When you are successful it is the most rewarding game in the world. We have had some fantastic days / early evenings out recently geocaching around our estate. There is quite a lot hidden around Great Park, Newcastle. Sometimes the finds are very easy to get to, others are frustratingly difficult that I’ve been known to give up. Luckily Imogen is more determined than me, which has prevented my calling it a day, several times.
They are all difference shapes and sizes. In the photo above Imogen is holding a Nano Cache, which contains a tiny roll of paper to sign. The Largest one we round was shoe box size. One things for sure that the size of the cache doesn’t make it any easier to find!
Havannah Nature Reserve.
A few weeks ago our friends The Coulsons and The Walkers got together to get our kids involved in Geocaching. The Walkers hadn’t really done it before, but the Coulsons are a few more finds ahead of me (grrr! competitive dads!).
We discussed a plan of action and chose to walk to the Havannah Nature Reserve as it connects to Great Park and there is a route of 8 geocaches to find. We set off at 10.00am and after an hour we hadn’t even reached the Havannah yet, so to try to get the kids interested we were walking past a Geocache that Imogen and I had found a few days earlier.
The Hidden Trig Point
Hidden on the estate is a Trig Point. For those who didn’t know Trig points were laid out across the country to help re-Map the UK to a more accurate standard around 1965. These points were used to divide the country into triangles and measure the between the points. Many of them have since been destroyed or moved. The one on our estate is still in place, but the environment has grown over it.
There is a Geocache to find here, but the point that I wanted to raise was that I’ve run past this Trig Point nearly every week for a year and a bit and didn’t even realise it was there.
We continued on into the Reserve and with our team of urban explorers. We started to follow our little flashing signal on the Geocaching App. When we were eventually “on” the right spot we started to look around everywhere. Sometimes there are clues to the hiding location. The one Below was hidden in the base of this snail, that Abigail found.
Another find was hidden amongst the stump of a tree. The location of the stump was off the beaten track, but added excitement to the trek and the kids loved it. When Imogen Spotted the Ammo box we were all surprised at the size of the Cache we had found. Most of the previous finds were based in the old 35mm camera film canisters.
This Cache was also a little different as sometimes they contain items to swap. Inside this one was a medal, a toy r, rubbers, a jigsaw and a necklace. If we had thought on we would have brought something to swap, but planning isn’t my strong point.
At the End of 4 hours Geocaching, the kids still wanted to find more, but it was well past our lunch time and we needed to make tracks.
We signed all the logs we found and returned them to the original locations. I have purposely kept this blog a little vague as finding the cache is the fun in the hobby and if I showed exactly their locations then it wouldn’t be fun. Or even worse “Muggles” would spoil the fun. As Geocaches are hidden in public locations the exact position needs to be kept a secret. To try to prevent non Geocachers from finding them and removing or relocating them.
For more details and to sign up for a free account visit geocaching.com You can play this real world exploration game for free, but you gain access to more locations if you upgrade to the premium account, which is £20 per year. Which isn’t a lot of money when you consider the amount of fun you can get out of it.
Right, I’m off to find more Caches than the Coulsons!