Geocaching in Lancashire
Outdoor enthusiast Andrew Ditton tries his hand at geocaching for the first time and finds it is a great way of exercising the body and the grey matter at the same time. The fact it forces you to get out in the great outdoors is another bonus.
By Andrew Ditton | 27 Feb 2019Andrew Ditton gets to grips with geocaching
I had always considered geocaching to be an activity pursued by ‘other people’. To be honest, until recently, I didn’t really know what it was all about.
In my mind, geocaching required specialist GPS equipment and detailed OS maps but it turns out that anyone with a smartphone and the ability to get outdoors can give it a whirl.
As with all modern adventures, my first foray into the world of geocaching was made while sat comfortably in the caravan in front of my laptop. I headed to geocaching.com to find out what was involved, and was amazed at the sheer number of caches hidden around the country.
What is geocaching?
So what exactly do you have to do? In a nutshell, people hide containers or ‘caches’ in a variety of places, leaving clues and co-ordinates on geocaching.com, and then anyone with the app on their phone can try to find whatever it is they have left. (The app is free to use, although paying a monthly or annual subscription fee unlocks extra features.)
Normally, when you’ve found the cache, there is a log to sign; you can also record your find at geocaching.com. There may be a small novelty inside which can be left or traded for something else. Obviously the ‘prize’ is of very little monetary value, but it might make you smile. To summarise, geocaching is like a worldwide treasure hunt for adventure-seekers aged from five to 105.
Burrs Country Park Club site
There are nine hidden prizes within a few hundred yards of the Club’s popular Burrs Country Park site in Lancashire. It seemed like a good place to give geocaching a go, but you can join in the fun while staying at many Club sites or CLs.
I began by searching for a cache named ‘Hot Dogs, Jumping Frogs’. My phone guided me to within six metres of it, but I found nothing. The description of the cache given on the app wasn’t helping, but I found a tab entitled ‘hint,’ which revealed that the container was to be found “under stones next to wall”. I searched high, I searched low. Darkness fell and I left the area without success. I felt pretty deflated and consoled myself with a cup of tea and a slice of cake back at the van.
Locating the treasure can prove tricky
Next morning, I was determined to make a better go of it, so I set off in search of ‘Brown Cow Attraction’. The Brown Cow, as Burrs Country Park regulars will know, is the name of the popular pub just outside the site gates.
The clues to locating the cache were cryptic to say the least: “Do not insert anything into the tube… Do not fill with water!” While I was searching the area, a walker strolled past and I suddenly felt terribly self-conscious, scrambling about in the undergrowth and eyeing up fence posts. “Have you lost something?” the kind lady called over.
“Er, no,” I stuttered, flushed with embarrassment, “but I am trying to find something.” With my cheeks burning I started to explain geocaching. “Like a treasure hunt for grown-ups?” smiled the lady in return. Within two minutes I’d bagged an invitation to join the local Ramblers group – so not only was geocaching making me appreciate nature at close hand, it had become an enabler to meet and chat with people, too!
Success at last as Andrew finds the cache
Bringing home the bacon
Continuing the search, I looked up the app’s hint: “The magnetic solution is close to hand.” Aha! More searching led me to the equipment needed to access the prize. It took time and patience to work out how to get to the capsule, but as the plastic container emerged from its hiding place I felt a huge wave of satisfaction.
I’d done it! I’d found my first ever cache! Excitedly, I signed the log book and recorded my find on the app, before carefully returning the cache to its hiding place.
Buoyed by my success, I decided to try just one more, and set off in search of ‘I Smell Bacon.’ Judging by the comments in the log, a few Club members had already found this one. Of the three caches I had tried to locate, this one was by far the easiest, and also the closest to the site.
Geocaching is a bit of harmless fun, occasionally frustrating, often rewarding, and costs nothing. Anything that encourages us to get outside, exercise and see the beautiful world around us can only be a good thing.