If you are planning a walk along Hadrian’s Wall then keep your eyes peeled for hidden treasure.
Over the next two years, National Trails are releasing 1200 stunning Geo-coins across the countryside, each coin featuring the iconic acorn logo of the National Trails.
The Geo-coins will be travelling the length of all the National Trails, visiting geocaches along the way or compete with each other to be the first to visit all fifteen of the National Trails in England and Wales.
The National Trails are hoping to benefit from the increasing popularity of geocaching. Based on GPS technology, when a cache is located, participants sign a log book and leave a gift to replace the one they took.
Since its invention in the USA in 2000 there are more than 2,000,000 caches hidden across the world and 5,000,000 registered “Geocachers” looking for them. One of them, Nicola Brooks from Brampton explains why the sport is such fun:
“Geocaching started for me in a field on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, under an electricity pylon! Not a very promising beginning for the new hobby that was about to re-ignite our family’s passion for the outdoors.
Tucked away in the very corner of one the girders, attached by a sturdy little magnet, was a small black box – I had found my first Geocache!
Every geocache has been hidden by a dedicated geocacher and logged on the geocache website. Inside the cache you will always find a logbook to record your find, and usually some “swaps” – little trinkets that you can take, as long as you leave something of equivalent or greater value.
The first cache I did with my daughter (aged 4 at the time) had a Polly Pocket doll inside – she was hooked too! Our cache hunts have included windswept hillsides on Hadrian’s Wall, fell summits in the Lakes, benches near historic monuments and plenty of other places that we would never have visited at all if it wasn’t for the fact that someone had hidden a cache there.
Another feature of geocaching are “Travel Bugs” – specially bought metal dog tags with a serial number linked back to their own page on the website – the idea of these is that you take them from the cache and move them on to the next one you visit. You log this on the travel bug page, and it builds up its own little travel journal.
Last year I created my own geocache. I found a suitable water-proof Tupperware box, put in a log book and pencil, bought my own Travel Bug, to which I attached my daughter’s butterfly brooch, and a disposable camera for visitors to take photos of themselves when they found the cache.
I took its GPS position, and entered it onto the website along with directions and a little local history of the area where it was hidden. Within 24 hours, it was live on the site, and I received the first of many e-mails with “log entries” from people who had found the cache.
Even more exciting than all this, are the e-mails and photos that come through recording the adventures of the Travel Bug. It is now on its 243rd move, has been to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Detroit Zoo (where it visited the Butterfly Garden).
geocaching, to me, is a wonderful example of what the internet and technology can do; it can get people out and about, following the demands of their GPS as it counts down the distance to the cache, seeing new places, Oh, and the other rule is – no-one else is allowed to see you find a geocache. It is one big secret. So don’t tell anyone I told you.
Nicola’s geocache is listed as ‘Fine & Dandy’ under a CA8 1NH postcode search