In the lead up to the launch of our Geocaching competition, #MWGeotrail, we were able to grab a few minutes with photographer, blogger and eager geocacher, Dave Graham. Often found over on Espresso Coco, Dave fills his blog with stunning landscape photos taken on walks or on geocaching adventures. We found out more about his hobby and how this seemingly ambiguous activity is beginning to infiltrate through one of the largest outdoor organisations, Scouts.
When did you first start geocaching how did you find out about it?
I first started about five or six years ago. I’d heard about it from a friend over in Virginia in America – she and her husband were keen geocachers, it sounded like fun so we had a look to see if there were any geocaches near us. There was one not far from where we live near Sandal Castle in Wakefield and once we’d found it, we were hooked!
What do you love most about geocaching?
The sense of adventure – you never quite know what you’re going to find in the cache, and it’s great fun for the family. The kids love getting involved and hunting for new caches when we’re out and about. Great exercise too, beats sitting indoors on an Xbox!
What’s the most interesting cache you’ve ever found?
Probably one called ‘Cache in the Clouds’ up near Sedbergh in Cumbria.
We’ve got some friends who live nearby and we were out for a walk in the area so thought we’d check it out. We knew it was near Wainwright’s ‘conspicuous tree’ near Fell End in Ravenstonedale.
There were eight of us (four adults and four kids) all hunting high and low through the rocks near the tree looking for the cache… in the end we finally found it! It turned out that some friends of our friends had been along the week before when they were visiting from Switzerland and had left some small items for their children in the cache; great fun. We swapped them for a few of our things (a keyring and a pen), then set off home. Of course we had to find a couple more caches along the way… Not hard when you’re walking through scenery like this!
What has been the most difficult?
Probably the same one! It took us ages to track down the box. Eventually we had to get some hints from a neighbour who we knew had been there before. They gave us some pointers (didn’t want to make it ‘too easy’) and we eventually tracked it down.
What bit of kit/gear couldn’t you live without when going on a geocaching adventure?
The geocaching app is really useful, obviously, though it does rely on you finding a 3G signal which can be tricky out in the hills. There’s a free one which I use, but there’s also a paid version which has more features. You can always go old-school and use a map and compass as well. It’s all very well relying on GPS, but you can’t beat an OS map and a compass!
Once you’ve worked out which caches you’re going to try for, it’s essential to be prepared – the British weather can be quite unpredictable so always carry a waterproof. A flask of tea is also an essential for me!
Which do you prefer: an urban geocaching trail or a rural? And why?
Definitely rural; getting out in the fresh air for a good walk is great exercise, and there’s some beautiful countryside right on our doorstep. Doesn’t have to be a walk either – a good bike ride can help you tick off a few caches in a day. Just get out and enjoy it :-)
What advice would you give to people who have heard about geocaching but don’t really know how to get started?
Give it a try! It’s a lot of fun. Go to the Geocaching website and look for caches in your local area. You can either view them as a list or see them on a map. You’ll probably be surprised how many there are, even in a town. See how many of the nearby ones you can find, then next time you’re going out for the day, check to see if there are any near where you’re going.
The geocaching app is also useful if you’re out and about. I help out with a local Scout group and we’ve been learning about navigation recently for an upcoming expedition challenge. We’re going to try and fit some geocaching in along the way, now that there’s a new Scout geocaching badge.
Caches can come in all shapes and sizes, so take a pen to sign the logbook if there is one, or something small to swap – it can be anything, a keyring, stickers, a Lego mini-figure, a foreign coin from your holidays, the choice is all yours! It’s probably best to keep it small and light and with the scouts, we’ll probably take some old spare badges along.
Find out more about Dave’s geocaching adventures here.
We’re currently running our own geocaching competition in the UK, #MWGeoTrail. To find out more and how to get involved click here.