My sister, Geocaching’s number 1 fan, came to visit me at the weekend, and guess what…she took me geocaching.
Geocaching is a form of treasure hunt using GPS – an item is hidden somewhere in the world and its coordinates posted on the Internet, so that GPS users can locate it. The items are called caches and can be a physical item to find and sign, or a task that needs completing. You can find them in cities and the countryside anywhere from a phone box to beneath a rock.
Geocachers register their finds on the geocaching website, and many try to collect as caches as they can, put their own caches out to be found, and get involved in organising social or environmental groups. Different types of caches or activities can earn you different points when you registered and you can be awarded badges to mark your achiveements, or different awards such as bronze, silver, or gold.
Judith lives in Northern Ireland and was super excited to come to England to visit me and add new counties and types to her collection. Over the weekend we did a virtual webcam cache (there’s only one of these in Northern Ireland), and couple of earth caches which help you explore the local geology, a magnetic cache, which is tiny and stuck to something metal, and the traditional container type cache (see photos below for the ones we found at the Sutton Manor Colliery site).
Embsay Crag in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – the one that got away as we couldn’t find the right rock to look under.
There’s a virtual cache on Millennium Square where you have to capture your photo on the webcam.
I unfortunately wasn’t so excited to find all these caches. I found it pretty pointless and boring but was happy to be spending some time with my sister helping her to do something she enjoys. But the irony of it all is that I introduced my sister to geocaching in the first place!
I do agree with Judith on some elements of the sport: it does help people discover new places and spaces (she introduced me to the Oakwell Hall Country Park which is short drive from my house but I never knew existed) ; it encourages exercise; and helps you meet new people through meet-ups and group caching outings or to do things together as a family. It was also fabulous to hear that the geocaching community is really active in beach clean ups and other activities that help to look after the environment where the caches are placed.
Despite all this good stuff, I doubt I’ll be joining her team and finding and geocaches on my own.