The Hidden World of Geocaching

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.”

An example cache: a lock-and-lock box found at Milecastle 42.

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.

Prem searching at Steel Rigg. Still not stung yet!

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.)

A very well camouflaged cache in a tree stump. Found by me, Prem and Beth.
Alex looking quite proud of himself near the tarn during our Ambleside hike.
Cache found near the Ravenglass Bathhouse.
A National Trust series cache. These often had information on the area in them.
The Summer house reconstruction near a cache on our Staward Peele hike.
Alex and Anthea deciding what object to switch.
Morgan with a rather large cache that we nearly gave up on.

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!

Our collection: trackables, stickers, clappers, pins, Doctor Who toys, and more.

One thought on “The Hidden World of Geocaching

  1. I can’t imagine what the archaeologists of 3015 will think when they find geocaches. Actually, I can – ‘ritual’!

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