A new type of adventure…

For this post I’m handing over to Carrie-Anne, our Learning and Interpretation Assistant and new Geocaching expert!

Go Geocaching with the National Trust

My name is Carrie-Anne and I am a Geocacher!  One of my jobs at Quarry Bank is creating trails for our visitors to use.  Most recently I created a geocaching trail around Styal Village, along with Katie from the VRA team and Laura, our regular blogger, which we launched over the Easter holidays.

So what is Geocaching?

Geocaching is difficult to explain, and makes more sense once you actually do it, but I will give it a go!  Geocaching is a global, community treasure hunt where you try to find caches hidden outdoors.  A cache will contain a notebook to log your find and some treasure to swap with some of your own (although you can get Microcaches, which are so small, they may only have a piece of paper inside!). We added some fun activities to our caches, such as old pictures of Styal village and a bug hunt!

Children finding a geocache box of "treasure" at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire.

Geocaching is open to everyone, and should be free to access. For our trail, we used www.opencaching.com and their iPhone app to register our caches.  This was because they are run by Garmin, who work in partnership with the National Trust and make the GPS devices we loan out to visitors, so I am a bit biased!

Anyone can set up and register a Geocache, you just have to check them every so often to make sure that the cache is still in its right place.  And anyone can go out and find them.  Once you have the co-ordinates for your chosen caches, you just need a GPS device, a smart phone or even a good, old-fashioned map!

Our geocaching adventure

It was great to talk to people at Quarry Bank who were having a go at Geocaching for the first time, and I wanted to give it a go myself.  But, as it isn’t as much fun when you have designed the trail yourself, I had a look at the Opencaching app and discovered there was a set of 6 caches around Royden Park, on the Wirral, designed and created by local primary school children as part of a National Trust project.  I grew up on the Wirral and as I was going home for the weekend, I decided to take the opportunity to have a go with my family.

Up hill and down dale!
Up hill and down dale!

So, I set off with 2 dubious adults and 4 curious children in tow, and after 3 hours of exploring, I had a team of converts!  The kids, aged 9, 8, 7 and 4, had a fantastic time and enjoyed picking which treasures to swap with.  I had dug around in the toy box and found some toy cars, plastic soldiers, key rings, an eraser and even a packet of sequins to leave behind in the caches for the treasure swap.  We were also able to read stories written by the children who made the caches and some even had recorded messages in them!

Our first cache! The clue was that it was a real PAIN to find.  They weren’t kidding – it was under a very prickly gorse bush.
Our first cache! The clue was that it was a real PAIN to find. They weren’t kidding – it was under a very prickly gorse bush.

My top tips for Geocaching

1. If you use a smart phone, make sure it is fully charged!  Having the phone on constantly for 3 hours used up a lot of battery.

2. Take something to write with you.  Like socks in the washing machine, pens and pencils are always disappearing and apparently, geocaches are no exception!

3. Take plenty of treasures to swap.  With 4 kids and 6 caches to find, I needed a pocket full of treasure to swap.

Choosing which treasures to take was a big decision!
Choosing which treasures to take was a big decision!

4. If you are going geocaching for the first time, pick an easy one to do.  Tiny microcaches, or ones on top of a mountain will be much harder to get to and find!

5. Take note of where you parked the car or where the bus stop is.  It is easy to lose your bearings after following the compass around for a few hours.

6. Do your research on the points before you go out.  One of the points we went to find was much further out from the rest – over 1/2 a mile as the crow flies.  It took nearly an hour to walk out, find it and get back to the next one, which is a long way for little legs to go.  If I had looked over the points beforehand and the distances from each other, I would have left that one out.

The long walk home.  Four tired, but happy children.  I think we will be Geocaching again.
The long walk home. Four tired, but happy children. I think we will be Geocaching again.

Overall, geocaching is a lot of fun, and really easy to do.  I realised that it was a great way to get kids exploring the outdoors by focussing their attention on an activity, rather than just going for a walk.  So why not give it a go? And why not start your geocaching adventures right here at Quarry Bank?

Carrie-Anne

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. brian.marsden17@ntlworld.com says:

    Not all of the Styal Estate geocaches are on opencaching.com. I’m a volunteer ranger and I stumbled on one in the village which isn’t listed. Opposite where a choir rehearses on Wednesday mornings. 🙂

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thanks for letting us know, I’ll flag it up with Simon.

      Laura

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