Do you like the idea of a family challenge? How about a digital treasure hunt that you might well get seriously addicted to? From Hampshire to the Highlands, geocaching is all the rage.
What is geocaching?
Think of it as a kind of orienteering for the digital age. Really all it involves is searching for geocaches, or ‘caches’, using the GPS on your smartphone. There are more than 2.5 million caches stashed around the world, and they come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and difficulties.
To get started, simply create an account by downloading the free app for iPhone or Android. Choose which cache you’re going to hunt, and then, when you find it, sign the log book, re-hide it where you found it, and record your finding online. You’re now ready for the next one.
Why we love it?
It’s one of the few outdoor activities you can do anywhere. In your local area you can use it to make dog-walking or the school run that bit more lively. For kids it’s like a treasure hunt, and a great way to get them out and about.
If you’re in a new place, it’s a novel way to explore. One of the rules of hiding caches is that the cache can’t be the most interesting thing in the vicinity. So as a general rule, if there’s a cache there, it’s a place worth visiting. And, unlike most activities, it’s entirely free. You don’t need to take lessons or turn up at a set time – you can just go.
Where to go:
You’re slightly dependent on where other people have left the geocaches but while this means you’ll tend to find more of them in urban areas, there are plenty in remote places too. Not long ago, a couple of hikers got lost on a snowy mountain in Oregon and stumbled across a geocache, which meant they could tell rescuers their exact location.
When to go:
That’s another great thing about it – you can go whenever you like. Just have a look on the digital map to see if there are any in your local area.
In the kit bag:
Apart from a smartphone and comfortable shoes, you don’t need anything at all. If you’re heading somewhere rural, it might take longer than you think to find the geocache, so take supplies – and a pen or pencil to sign the log.