Whilst some of you may have heard of the pastime of geocaching, others may not, so I’ll start my story with a wee definition to give you all some background. Geocaching.com, the hub for geocachers the world over, describes it as: “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” I have to say that I prefer the more frank description of “Using multi million pound technology to find tupperware in the woods”!
I first started geocaching in the Lake district about 5 years ago, and became addicted enough to have now found nearly 1000 caches, right across the country. It is a great way to explore a new place – many people will set trails of geocaches that lead you round a route – and a great excuse to get people old and young out into the great outdoors. Whilst a lot of the caches that you come across are fairly mundane, there can be real surprises in them, and sometimes incredible containers – for example when the cache is hidden inside an old snail shell! Sneaky!
A few years ago, myself and fellow herder-and-geocaching-partner-in-crime Hen set out a trail of our own cleverly disguised caches starting at the Reindeer Centre in Glenmore. As the “owner”, it is our responsibility to maintain the caches in good condition. Checking the cache right outside the Centre recently, I was pleased to find what is known as a “trackable”. This is a small object with a unique code on it, so it can be looked up online. Trackables are often set a mission, for example to travel from one end of the country to the other, or to only visit caches near rivers. One cacher will leave it in a cache, and the next person to find the cache can choose to move it along to another cache.
I was amazed to find that this particular trackable geocoin had been “released” in Germany almost 10 years ago, and was named “The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre Geocoin”. Its mission was to travel all the way to Scotland and meet the reindeer here. Unbeknown to me, it was enroute before I’d even heard of geocaching, and before there was a cache placed here at the Centre. 10 years is also an amazingly long time for a trackable coin to travel without getting lost or stolen.
Gloriana and Cheese were more than happy to pose with the coin, which will soon be “released” to make its way back towards its owners in Germany. Let’s hope its run of luck remains for long enough for it to return safely home. It just shows that you never do know what surprises you may encounter.
Now that I’ve revealed my complete nerdiness, if you’re inspired to try something new, have a look at http://www.geocaching.com and see what geocaches are near you – you’ll very likely find that there is one hidden on the corner of your street or in a local park, and anyone can get involved using a smartphone or GPS. Who can say no to a free treasure hunt??!
Find out more about geocaching here
See the geocoin’s website here