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a geocache found in devon

My 2017 Obsession: Geocaching

I have to admit that I get an obsession over certain things quite easily; whether it’s a new jacket I’ve been lusting after, a set of Spectrum brushes, an indulgent dish or over Geocaching! When I first started heading out on these adventures I wasn’t really sure what to expect, it had been recommended by a friend as an idea for a date, so I decided to try it out in 2016. Over a year later I still love it and regularly head out for a little expedition. Now you may be wondering what exactly Geocaching is, so carry on reading to find out more!

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a GPS mobile app that is like a treasure hunt; the app is free to download, but I would recommend getting the premium version if you decide that this could be an activity for you. The premium version opens up SO many more treasures to find, and you can create ‘to-do’ lists if you find a good looking trail.

Why Go Geocaching?

Geocaching is a fantastic way to get outdoors and explore the local area. Our journeys so far have taken us to so many hidden gems that we simply wouldn’t have found without it. If you’re not much one for exercise, this is a perfect way to get up your step count; we often hit 20,000 steps on a Geocaching day! It’s great as a date (tried and tested), particularly if you bring along a picnic and enjoy it somewhere with a stunning view. It’s also relatively cheap (£4.49 a month) even for the premium version, in the summer we head out for a trip at least once a week so it’s definitely worth the investment. My final reason to go is that it’s always exciting! I love discovering new places and finding new treasures, especially when it’s sunny. So, this is just an all round fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors no matter where you are!

How Do You Geocache?

When you open up the Geocaching app you can log in with Facebook or set up an account; then it will track your location and show you the local ‘caches’. You can click on each one to read the story of who left the cache and pick up a hint (just in case you get stuck), you can also read other people’s comments and see their pictures!

Then, it’s time to navigate your way to the treasures, which can often be a little difficult. The app will count down how many metres away you are and give you an idea of the direction, as well as a set of coordinates (I have no idea how to use coordinates so most of the time it’s potluck). Once you’re within 10m or so of the cache, it’s time to start hunting (and this is where the clue comes in handy). They’ll often be hidden in bushes, under benches, in trees or pretty much anywhere you can imagine, and some of the capsules are incredible. We’ve found magnetic bolts, hollowed out tree stumps and miniature 1cm camouflaged canisters! I like to pick a cache that takes you on a route, rather than individual ones as this makes it more of a fun activity, and you’re most likely only 300m away or less from the next find.

Where Can You Geocache?

Geocaching is the world’s biggest treasure hunting game, and can be done worldwide; we’ve taken trails in the UK (mainly in Devon), Italy and France so far, but there are so many other countries with incredible trails just waiting to be found. Whether you’re seeking them in the countryside or the city, there’s a high possibility that there is always a cache within around a mile of you!

What is a ‘cache’?

So, you may have heard me mention the caches earlier on, but if you’re still confused about what they are then this should help. A cache is a container of some description which will have (at least) a log book (often a set of small sheets of paper). When you find a larger cache, you might find a pencil and some hidden treats such as toys and games; in this case, you can take an item from the cache and replace it with something of your own. The caches come in all shapes, sizes and forms and some can be incredibly creative!

Who Can Geocache?

Pretty much anyone can Geocache, although, there are often some quite tricky terrains to navigate, so those with limited mobility might want to do a little research into the area before heading out. There are still plenty of trails that take a smooth and easy path, however, so there will be something for all. The kids love to get involved (but be sure to bring some snacks and water or they may get a little bit hangry!) For those adults out there thinking this sounds like a children’s game, for starters, it’s often far harder than you’d have imagined. Second of all, the excitement of finding a hidden gem (be it a cache or a beautiful setting) never grows old.

Who Places The Geocaches?

Any Geocache member can place a Geocache (even on the free version), as long as it isn’t within 161m of another cache. There are a few other guidelines that your cache must meet, and this can be found on the website. All you need is a logbook, a cache container and the coordinates of the location you’ll be placing it. Then you submit the details onto the official Geocaching website and it’ll be approved/declined within a few weeks. If you decide to place a cache it’ll have to be in a location that you can re-visit and maintain if there are any issues, so it isn’t a good idea to place one whilst you’re only on a one-off visit. All of the Geocaches you find have been set up by someone in the community, and often you’ll be able to learn about their stories, inspirations and other fun facts along the way!

What Equipment Will You Need?

You don’t need much to Geocache other than a smartphone with the Geocaching app and a pen or pencil. However, be prepared for some tough walking and bring along plenty of water. In the summer, you’ll certainly need sun cream, and in the winter, a good pair of walking boots or wellies and a waterproof coat! Bring along a few small items to swap out in the larger caches and a camera to document your travels too!

Top Geocaching Tips:

  • Utilize the download feature for places with no signal; this will mean that you can navigate to the treasure in even the most remote locations.
  • Bring a portable charger for long journeys. Geocaching is, unfortunately, a big battery drainer, and you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere without knowing which way the car is, so a backup charger or spare phone will always come in handy.
  • Be prepared to get muddy. On around three occasions now I’ve placed my foot poorly and ended up stepping in a bog; this was hilarious for the people with me, but my bright white Converse did not fare well…
  • If you get stuck, read the hint and other people’s comments. Often caches will be lost, so if more than ¾ people before you have recorded the spot as a DNF (did not find) then it’s probably time to move on. The other comments and photos can also help to give you a hint of the location you may be missing.
  • Mind your step (and what you’re stepping on). I once thought that standing on a stye to enjoy the view was a fantastic idea, until I realised it was very unsteady and I ended up with thorns wrapped around my ankles and a multitude of pretty purple bruises… (see photo below)

that time I fell in a hedge while geocaching

Geocaching Lingo:

There are many more terms that you’ll discover as you get further into the Geocaching experience, but here are a few of the basic, most important ones!

Muggles – other people who may not be Geocachers

Lock & Lock/Lockbox – usually a larger cache with a lockbox style lid (these are the ones which normally contain extra goodies)

Micro – a small cache, usually a 35mm film case

Nano – a really tiny cache, about the size of the end segment of your pinkie

Acronyms:

DNF – did not find

BYOP – bring your own pen/pencil

LHS – left hand side

RHS – right hand side

FTF – first to find cache

STF – second to find cache

SPOR – suspicious pile of rocks

I’d love to hear about your Geocaching adventures and recommendations, so leave a comment below or catch me on any of the social media channels listed!

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10 Comments

  1. This is so nifty, I cannot believe I had never heard of this before! Thanks for such a thorough post, I really appreciate how thoroughly you explained everything or else I would probably get lost trying to navigate the app.

  2. Geocaching is the best thing ever! Especially for exploring places you haven’t been before! My friend and I did it during our holiday in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. The places we found and learnt about were absolutely beautiful even though finding the caches meant bruises and scratches 😀 It’s a great hobby which involves a lot of walking and fun 🙂 S. xx

    1. Ah wow, great to hear stories from geocaching in other countries! It really does help you to find the hidden gems in every country, will have to give Finland Estonia and Latvia a trail!! xx

  3. I love Geocaching but I haven’t been for about 3yrs and I’m always thinking I need to get out and find some more! I totally agree with the trails, it becomes more of an adventure than just a single cache. I always wanted to find at least one cache in every country I go to, but so far I’ve been super slack and have only done it here in New Zealand. Really need to change this! Nice to meet another ‘cacher though 🙂 Happy hunting!

  4. This is so much fun! I know I’m late to the game – ive heard of geocaching in the past and knew it was some sort of treasure hunt, but this post has really contextualized it for me. I’m definitely going to have to try this out, I think my students would love it!

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