Fancy a walk but can’t get the enthusiasm?
I may have the answer for you. What if I gave you a reason to walk just a couple of hundred metres (or yards) and then the same again and again….?
I am in my early 70’s and get out most weeks, occasionally going out twice a week and often covering 5 or even more miles. The longest walk so far was 12.5 miles and the shortest about 2 miles and I do this all year round with friends. I am finding some of the little known parts of this great county that I would normally never find wandering through some wonderful scenic fields and woodland. When you meet a deer on a walk you know you are out in the wilds.
There is a little known hobby called ‘Geocaching’ where we use multi-billion dollar satellites to point us in the direction of containers hidden by other enthusiasts. Best of all it can be free! No specialist equipment is initially needed just the smart phone many people carry these days with a specialist ‘app’ installed. I have listed at the bottom some of the ‘apps’ that can be downloaded to your phone. Alternatively you can buy a dedicated GPS receiver (see under).
All of the information for this hobby is on a web page called ‘geocaching.com’ where you can sign up as a free basic member without charge or pay a small annual subscription for lots of other services. Here you can select a user name and password.
So; how does it work? Let’s call a guy ‘Joe’. Joe goes out with his box of containers and finds a suitable spot to hide his first ‘cache’. It may be under a stone, in a hedge, in a hollow of a tree or even up a tree. When he has placed it he then checks the GPS co-ordinates several times and makes a note of them. Most of the walks we do are circular so you and up back where you started and often where we have parked the car.
At the end of his walk he will head home and upload these to the above website. After being checked by a volunteer they will be published on the website and anyone can have a look at them. They can then be downloaded to their dedicated GPS or if using an ‘App’ look for them on the phone.
The App will then guide you to the approximate position of the cache. Remember GPS signals are not always very accurate especially in woodland but Joe will have also left a clue or hint for you. This could be something like ‘base of post’ which is very common. There are over 50 caches hidden around Hawkinge and a nice easy series to start off with in Reinden Wood.
So; having found your first cache, you would open the container and perhaps find some goodies inside as well as a strip of paper (the log book) with some names on it. These names are those who have found it previously. It is usual for people not to put their real names down but use a pseudonym. Mine is ‘Rufty’ from my days as a Rufty Tufty SCUBA diver working in Dover Harbour.
Having signed the log book, you could take one of the goodies that you have found but the rule is you must replace it with something of equal value. You must then replace the cache exactly as you found it.
Having found your cache you can ‘log it’ on your smart phone and when you get home and check your statistics on the web page and you will see some happy smiley faces too.
There is a huge variety of containers used from a miniature magnet about 15mm long to old WW2 ammunition boxes. And every variation of Tupperware boxes as well.
You then have a good reason to walk to the next one!!!!!
This is a great way to get the kids out walking as they search for ‘treasure’. I took my 4 year old granddaughter last summer and she loved it.
There are over 50 caches within one mile of the Hawkinge Community Centre
The darker green ones are those I have yet to find, the smiley faces are ones I have found and the light green stars are the caches I have put out for others to find. At the time of writing I have found 2000 caches mostly in Kent.
Here is a sample screen of one of my caches……….
Apps for iPhone you could try:- Cachly, Geocaching or Neongeo
For Android phones you could try: c:geo or perhaps, Geocaching though some of these are not free.
Handheld GPS units are made by several companies, best known is possibly Garmin who make a range starting at £75 but often bargains are found on various auction sites.
The picture on the left is my iPhone using Cachly.
If you would like to learn more about this hobby you can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org