Beginners Guide to Geocaching in the UK
Geocaching is considered to be a hobby, an activity which millions of people from all walks of life take part in globally. The activity involves participants signing up to one of the many Geocaching websites such as www.geocaching.com and using locations given to track hidden items or containers with a GPS navigation receiver.
Geocaching was originally called a “GPS stash hunt” or “gpsstashing” however it was suggested that the term “stash“ sounded negative. The name Geocaching was suggested in the gpsstash group on eGroups (known today as Yahoo!) and went down a treat! Today “Geocaching” is known worldwide with millions of participants travelling globally in search of the hidden objects.
Geocaching is the perfect way to get the whole family outdoors, exploring and having fun. With different difficulty levels the activity is great for all ages and is as good for seasoned campers as it is for families with small children.
Benefits of Geocaching
There’s a large amount of positives surrounding Geocaching. It's great for your health and wellbeing, for spending time outdoors and even the environment can benefit from your Geocaching journeys!
As you try your best to negotiate over the wonderful (and sometimes challenging) landscape of the UK, you'll be racking up recommended exercise hours. Even caches that don't require you to walk very far or over particularly tricky terrain are still adding to your hours moving around. Remember that short distances add up!
For kids, the outdoors provides a much needed stomping ground to explore, develop and learn. There is so much to discover when outside searching for your chosen cache. From animals and local plant life, all the way to hills and hidden hiding places, kids will always find something to keep their brains busy.
The kids aren’t the only participants who can learn via Geocaching, as an adult you’ll be able to discover new areas, plants and landscapes which brings us on to…
When you’re on holiday and want to make the most of your surroundings Geocaching is a great way to get out and explore around the local area. Geocaching allows you to explore areas you wouldn’t have necessarily considered before. Many people hiding caches hide them in areas where there’s historical background and will give you an overview on a piece of paper hidden inside the cache.
Geocaching builds on lots of personal traits such as team work and leadership skills! Perhaps the most useful skill which Geocaching requires is perseverance. It can take a long afternoon or even longer sometimes to discover caches. Some environments such as woodland can all look the same and make you feel like you're walking around in circles. Stick to the belief you’re not going around in circles and you will succeed!
It’s lovely to have a nice environment to explore. It's also a good idea to leave it in the same condition for everyone that visits after you. Taking a plastic bag is a great idea so that if you spot any litter you can clear it up and dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. Kids love doing this and it works as an added feel good activity to do as you go along on your geocache search!
Geocache Difficulty Levels Explained
Easy: the geocaches are openly visible and will only take a few minutes of searching
Average: The average experienced geocacher will be able to find it in less than 30 minutes
Challenging: This will be a challenge for an experienced geocacher. It could take the best part of an afternoon to find it
Difficult: These provide a real challenge for experienced geocachers. Thorough preparation is required and it could take several days and attempts to raise the treasure
Extreme: This is a really serious challenge. Special knowledge, skills and equipment are necessary to raise the cache
Geocache Terrain Levels Explained
Wheel chair and pushchair friendly: These are well developed paths and are usually less than a 1 km walk. These are great for including younger kids!
Suitable for small children: You’ll find marked paths on these usually flat routes. You won’t come across any overgrown areas and the total distance will be no more than 3km
Not suitable for small children: These routes may involve a little cross country action however the average adult and older child shouldn’t experience any problems negotiating the terrain
For experienced outdoor-fans only: This will involve negotiating overgrowth and will usually include steep elevations or descents
For professionals and those that like tough challenges: These geocaches require special equipment such as a boat, four wheel drive or mountaineering equipment
Geocaching Kit Essentials
Geocaching doesn’t require lots of kit and won’t cost you the earth. The main piece of equipment you’ll need is either a smartphone with a Geocaching app or a GPS receiver which you can pick up from around £50.
There are a few main considerations to keep in mind when looking for a GPS device. You’ll want to buy a receiver that has upwards of 12 channels, this will include most modern devices however anything built before 1997 will have one channel, be less accurate and much slower at receiving signals. A device with an external antenna will provide better signal in areas with high tree cover or inside a car and a waterproof device is a good idea for serious explorers.
For power, it’s always a good idea to take plenty of spare batteries for your GPS device or to ensure you can recharge your battery using a cigarette lighter power cable in your car or a power bank. You never know how long your geocache search might take!
- A reliable torch and spare batteries or a headlamp to free up your hands
- A camera to capture the moment
- Pen (a pencil for colder climates)
- A retractable mirror (for looking in those hard to reach places)
- Gloves to protect your hands when reaching inside spaces
- Weather appropriate clothing: light layers, waterproof coat, hat, warm gloves, good walking shoes
- Snacks and water for longer trips
- Mini first aid kit including bandages and alcohol wipes
Remember: If you’re planning to leave anything in the geocache after you’ve tracked it down for the next person to find take these with you!
Geocaching Terms Explained
When you start off on your Geocaching adventures you might come across some of the following terms and abbreviations used online. Use this dictionary to decipher your fellow treasure hunter’s messages.
- Muggled/Plundered: When a geocache is vandalised or stolen
- Geo-muggles/muggles: Those unfamiliar with Geocaching
- FTF: First to find
- DNF: Did not find
- Drive/Dump: A cache placed next to a road or car park with little thought
- Log & Dump: A carelessly placed cache, left unhidden in its original location
- Plasma Bandits: Mosquito's
- Smurfs 292: meeting another geocacher in the woods
- TNLN: Took nothing, left nothing
- TNLNSL: Took nothing, left nothing, signed logbook
- Giga-Event: An event surrounding a cache that’s attended by 5,000+ people
- Drive-bys/Park n grabs: Great geocaches for beginners
- Multi-cache: One or more intermediate check points which contain the coordinates of the next checkpoint. The final point will contain the log book
- Night Cache: Designed to be found at night, usually with a number of reflectors. You’ll need a flashlight to find the final cache
- Mystery/Puzzle: Solve a puzzle or discover information in order to find the cache. This could be a padlock combination or solving a riddle to find a location name
- Letterbox: A letterbox is a cache with a rubber stamp and a log book instead of a standard paper log book
- Moving/Traveling: The finder uses the log book, trades trinkets and then hides the cache in a different location. By updating this new location on the listing, the finder becomes the hider and the next finder continues the cycle.
Top Geocaching Locations in the UK
There are millions of Geocaching trails throughout the UK however if you’re stuck for inspiration there are a few sites which act as great bases, surrounded by hidden treasures.
Geocaching in the New Forest
Our New Forest holidays are located perfectly for both cycling and walking which makes them great for Geocaching too! With beautifully natural surroundings, a range of wildlife including new forest ponies and deer, as well as huge network of footpaths and walkways, the new forest is a great location for families interested in Geocaching.
Ashurst is surrounded by over 1,300 caches which makes it one of the best sites for a geocache adventure. The idyllic forest setting, footpaths and cycle routes with free roaming ponies offers something to keep people of all ages and abilities entertained.
Similarly, the area surrounding our Setthorns campsite boasts over 1,000 caches. Setthorns is perfect for older groups and couples wanting to get close to nature. You’ll pitch up amongst the pines and oaks within the beautiful forest and might even get a visit from a wandering pony or two.
Geocaching in Cornwall
We have two campsites in Cornwall that offer great Geocaching opportunities in the South West!
Bude is a beautiful location, bordered by hedges with its own field. The site is situated between Crackington and Boscastle which provides lots of walking & Geocaching locations. There are over 350 caches to discover in this area.
The ever charming Veryan, on the Roseland Peninsula in south Cornwall is surrounded by pretty villages and little hamlets. The South West Coast Path, the longest National Trail in Britain is 630 miles long and is just a mile and a half from the campsite. There are over 600 geocaches along this path and the surrounding areas, all of varying difficulty levels.
Geocaching in Northumberland
On Northumberland’s Heritage coast, with over 30 miles of sandy beaches we have two top sites for Geocaching.
Beadnell Bay is a top campsite for fishing as well as the home of over 140 caches within a 10 mile radius. Beadnell is a great site for couples, with sandy beach walks to enjoy and lots of wildlife to look out for. There is a mix of easy and challenging caches to find and lots of local eateries to keep you sustained whilst on your adventures!
A little further along the coast is our Dunstan Hill Club Site, a quiet spot well known for its beaches and of course Dunstan Castle. Over 70 caches are available to track down locally and there are plenty of nearby woodland walks to place your own cache if you feel like it.
Geocaching in Wales
Snowdonia National Park is a top spot for Geocaching. You’ll find a mix of easy and challenging geocaches, with a number of serious geocaches in the area.
Bala Club Site is within the national park and is just six miles from the lake it’s named after. There are over 250 caches in the area and is also under an hour’s drive from Snowdon itself which has over 1,500 caches to look for.
Llanystumdwy has just 70 pitches and is located between mountains on one side and the sea on the other. This provides beautiful scenery and great walking areas being in an ideal location to explore both Snowdonia National Park and the Lleyn Peninsula which extends 30 miles out into the Irish Sea. Within 10 miles of the site are over 130 caches of mixed difficulty levels.