It was a great five weeks at Vindolanda and some of us picked up a new hobby! For those who have never heard of Geocaching, here’s a bit of an introduction. Geocaching is a worldwide community of caches hidden around both urban and rural areas. The official website allows people to freely create their own cache or find other’s caches through just a GPS coordinate and a clue. These are often small boxes or film canisters with log books and small items. The rule’s are simple: return the geocache to its original spot and if you take an item leave an item. (Our items often included Western pens and Canada pins.) These are all over the world!
I began geocaching when I came to Western as a way to explore the area. It was great to see the more hidden trails in the London area and have my friends join in. I haven’t been searching as actively in the last two years but I figured, we’re in England, why not?
I looked up geocaches in the area and it turned out there were a few around Haltwhistle. I went for a walk, found some, and signed the log book “the Vindolanda Field School.”
Our first big geocaching adventure was our second big hike. Unfortunately the reception was pretty shaky so we had to guess a lot of cache locations. One of our first finds was at Steel Rigg where we also discovered the wonder that is stinging nettle. We all got stung but it was sure satisfying.
Some cache locations can be quite tricky and inventive. Halfway down our Hadrian’s wall hike we heard a bird call. I thought it was strange but continued on. It was only later that I realized the cache’s clue said “you will probably hear me before you see me.” It was a fake bird! We went back briefly to look but the windy day deterred us a little.
Throughout our entire trip I looked up geocaches to track down. It was amazing how many were hidden all around us. (There was one near Vindolanda but we unfortunately never got around to finding it.)
My favourite part of geocaching is the way it brings people together. As a group we searched the area and decided which item we liked the best. We got off the beaten path more often than not but learned a great deal about why that particular location was chosen. These are often created by people with personal stories to tell. Some are memories, some are collaborations, and some are tied to local history.
By the end, our random collection of objects was quite large. To me, each object has a memory tied to it. Even though they are basically trinkets, each had its own difficulties and moments of victory. Who would have thought we would have great finds inside AND out of Vindolanda!