Geocaching for Children
If you and your kids love a good treasure hunt, then there you will also likely love geocaching. Described as high tech treasure hunting, this is a great activity that takes everyone outdoors, gets them active and can be done as a family or with a group of friends. So what is geocaching and where are the top spots to enjoy it?
Geocaching is an outdoor activity that operates using the Global Position System or GPS for the navigation element. This means that a smartphone, tablet or even a specialist GPS tracking gadget is needed for the game and it is taking place around the world.
The game is a modern, high tech version of a game known as letterboxing. Going back over a century, this game used landmarks and clues hidden in stories to send gamers around a location. The idea of making it modern and tech-based came when GPS was no longer just selectively available back in 2000. The new, improved system could accurately locate a small box and the first one was created by Dave Ulmer of Oregon. The original bucket contained software, videos, books, food, money and even a slingshot and has been logged as discovered twice.
What are geocaches?
The traditional geocache would use a waterproof container and includes a log book with pen or pencil for people to register when they found it as well as a trinket or treasure. Coordinates are placed on a website and others seek it out using their GPS locators. When it is found, they log their details online and exchange the item in the box for something of similar or higher value for the next searcher.
Monetary value of the content isn’t particularly important and personal value is often placed higher. Everything from unusual coins and small toys to CDs and books can be placed in the boxes while Travel Bugs or Geocoins are used to continue to track the items location after it has been removed from the box.
Variations on geocaches have been invented for different games. Mystery or puzzle caches are popular where you need to solve a puzzle to reach the location or solve when you when find the geocache. These are also popular with kids. Linked caches are also used where you need to find a series of them to string together to get the prize.
Top UK geocaching locations
So if this has inspired you to go and try out the activity with the kids in their next holidays or at the weekend, then where are the top spots around the UK to try out geocaching?
Clent Hills in Birmingham has four caches to be discovered and some beautiful scenery to enjoy while looking for them. The activities are firmly centred around kids and the contents of the caches are regularly changed. You can bring a GPS device with you or download an app to a smartphone to play the game.
Clumber Park is near Worksop, Nottinghamshire and is a major geocaching location with some 20 different caches to find. As well as the fun of locating the caches, there are also swaps with the contents while buying geocoins allow you to see where in the world the treasure you leave behind ends up. Clumber Park
Llanerchaeron in Caeredigion (a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Aeron Valley) offers the combination of six different caches to be found along with beautiful flora and fauna. The area is known for its daffodils, bluebells and wood anemone while there is a Georgian villa and farm on the property that has a number of traditional Welsh breeds of animals being raised there.
Lytes Cary Manor is in Somerset and is a great place to try geocaching for the first time. There are five geocaches to find and all are placed near the routes running through the site so it is ideal for younger kids to join in. No devices are available on the site so bring along a smartphone or tablet to play the game.
Newark Park in Gloucestershire offers a number of kids activities in addition to geocaching so is ideal for a day out. There are nine caches in total hidden around the park while there is also a spotters trail to follow that details the history of the house at the centre of the park.
Polesdon Estate is in Surrey and offers geocaching amongst other activities. There is a leaflet available on site so bring your own smartphone and afterwards, enjoy one of the four walks across the estate, including ones especially designed for the kids. There are also woodland walks further afield.
Roseberry Topping is in North Yorkshire and is a puzzle geocaching location that offers a number of hidden caches that require puzzles to find and to gain the prizes. The caches include lots of information about the site so it is educational as well as great fun. There are also logbooks to sign to leave a note for future hunters to read.
Tyntesfield in Bristol was the first geocaching location organised by the National Trust around the UK and offers six boxes spread across the woodland site. While finding them, kids can look out for the resident wildlife and learn about the history of the location as well as the work going into protecting it for future generations.
Wicken Fen is in Cambridgeshire that has twelve secrets to discover. They are spread over three trails of varying length from the basic three mile trail to the bigger ones that can be undertaken by bike.
Wray Castle is in Cumbria for a great location to combine geocaching with history. There are eight caches to be found, all of medium size and containing items to swap. There is even a puzzle involved in the last one with clues held in previous caches. To find them, you walk through the scenic woodland with lake views and there is a special app to download to take part in the game.