The thing I love most about where we like is having the countryside, in particular The South Downs, right on our doorstep. If we’re at home for the weekend we’ll often take a walk out in the village. Sometimes it just a short-circuit around the block, or rather valley, other times it’s a hike. These days it often depends on the weather and little Bean.
At the moment she’s just at the right age to really take an interest in what’s going on around her and not require feeding every five minutes. She loves getting out in the fresh air and watching the world go by from the comfort of her backpack. This weekend, with Uncle Johnny staying, we decided to take a walk out with the view to trying a bit of geocaching.
We knew the walk would be about six miles long so daddy beans took Bean in the backpack carrier and mummy beans loaded up her backpack with nappies, snacks and emergency supplies.
Geocaching has been around for about fifteen years and is a bit like a treasure hunt. People place caches of various sizes, some of them nano, in various places and register them on a geocaching website. Cachers then take the co-ordinates of the find and see if they can locate it.
If you find it, you sign the log and then, if there is any, you can take an item of SWAG from the cache, as long as you replace it with something else. Then you out the cache back exactly where you found it, for the next person.
Finally you log your finds on the geocaching website
This was the first time we’d been geocaching so we chose some traditional caches that were supposed to be fairly easy to find. I’d read a couple of articles about geocaching and so I packed us up a little kit which included the following:
- Gardening gloves – there may be brambles and nettles in the way
- Tweezers– in case the log is rolled up tight in something small
- A pen – to sign the log
- Some SWAG – to swap into the caches, should we find them
- A notebook
We set off full of hope, coordinates noted, a map of the area and a GPS app on one of our phones.
It took us a while to get out to where the geocaches were hidden but this did not dissuade us. Surrounded by beautiful countryside and easily accessible footpaths it was a pleasant Sunday walk.
The walk took us through the vineyard, which is just beautiful at the moment. Full of grapes and promise.
The hedgerows are also full of fruit and berries and I even found some fungi I could identify: King Alfred’s Cakes.
These are not edible but can be used as fire lighters.
We reached the point on the map where we thought the first geocache would be but unfortunately the GPS was not playing ball. We spent a good ten minutes searching through the undergrowth for the cache, to no avail. We walked on, determined to get the next one. We failed again, and again but hey we’re beginners right?
Then at last, we found one, hidden away in nook, which I could not possible disclose the location of, finally we had found one! Our first geocache.
We didn’t take any SWAG out but we did put something in for the next person.
In the end the outing resulted in us finding only one of the seven geocaches that we could have found but it has not put us off. Well, the husband grumbled a lot and Bean did wonder why we were all looking studiously into the bushes and at the surrounding ground, but it was all good fun and she enjoyed the walk. We shall return to the caches we couldn’t find with a better GPS and more an idea of what we are looking for.
This was a very long walk for little ones, unless they are in a backpack carrier but there are some geocache trails that are more suited to children. You can find out more though the website. As Bean gets older I think this will be a fun thing for us to do together wherever we are as caches are hidden all over the place. And when she’s old enough to join in we’ll be hopefully much better at it.
There are different types of caches. We were looking for traditional caches but you can get multi caches, mystery caches, event caches and something called earth caches, which teach you all about the environment you are in. I think us green beans might have to see if we can find some of these next time.
I recommend giving geocaching a go. Even if you don’t find anything, you’ve had a great weekend walk in the countryside…
We’d love to know if you’ve had a go at geocaching and if so what you found. If you’d like to find out more about it and give it a go yourself, there’s more information here.