Looking for a summer activity that the whole family can get involved in? Why not try Geocaching?
Did you know that there are hidden secrets all through Snowdonia? On the beaches, under rocks, in trees, under piers, under bridges, in caves, coves and caverns and even in beach-huts? You may never have even seen them, or in fact even heard of them before, but once you understand the premise of this modern way of treasure hunting, you’ll be hooked!
So, what is geocaching?
It’s an outdoor based sport that is based on an internet community who hide treasures (known as caches), and then share clues about where and how to find them in the form of coordinates. So, all a geocacher needs to do is choose their target cache, navigate their way there, find it and then log the find. Caches can vary wildly – but they usually take on the form of a small box, sometimes filled with natural treasures like shells or pebbles; but at the very least, it will contain a small notebook for you to log your name and the date when you found the cache.
The fun of geocaching isn’t the treasure you find, it’s the hunt for the treasure. It gets everyone involved, searching high and low, following clues and using your initiative to find the next one. Once you’ve nailed the process, you can progress onto “multi-caches”, which means where the first cache is found, it then reveals the clue to the next one. Or maybe “puzzle caches”, where you need to complete a puzzle to get the coordinates for the next cache.
Thanks to the advancements in GPS (Global Satellite Positioning System), geocaching has become a really popular sport. The first geocache was hidden in the USA almost 15 years ago; and today there are thought to be caches in over 200 countries around the world.
Here’s a quick run-down on what you’ll need to have a go at geocaching.
- A handheld GPS device. This doesn’t have to break the bank, many mobile phones are now GPS enabled. It just needs to be able to be read to display coordinates.
- You’ll need the details of some geocaches to hunt for – geocaching.com is the largest site for geocaching, so sign up for a free account and press search. Type in a postcode in the area you want to hunt in, and it will bring up a list of all the geocaches nearby.
- Choose a geocache and note down the coordinates and put them into your GPS.
- Navigate to your chosen target and start hunting! The coordinates given for a cache cover a small area.
- Some are obviously easier to find than others, and you can specify if you would like to only hunt for ‘beginner’ caches to start with.
- Don’t give up if you find the first few tricky – you’ll soon get used to the language of geocaching.
- Have a practice run close to home so you can used to the process somewhere familiar.
- Don’t forget to take a pen so you can sign the log book!
Remember, most geocaches are hidden out of view of the non-geocachers. Most are in the countryside, but there are lots in urban areas and even in some city centres!