” No it’s not virtual, it’s a real treasure hunt, in the real Scottish countryside.” I heard my husband explaining to kids at breakfast. Having just finished a 1 hour stint on Mine Craft by 8.30am I don’t think 10 year old had grasped the cold, hard truth. That, yes, we were going outside. It was bank holiday Monday and the weather was set to stay dry till 2pm. So we planned to find our first cache.
Geocaching is a treasure hunt for the digital generation, a high tech adventure that involves the searching, and hopefully finding, of one of the 2 million small, waterproof boxes that have been hidden around the world. To find them you have to create a free account with goecaching.com and download the coordinates of the cache you are going to look for. Using a GPS enabled device, we used a Samsung Galaxy, off you trot to the vicinity of your choice.
There are a hundred or so caches hidden within a 50 mile radius of us so we decided to head for Loch Lomond, a 45min drive away. After parking the car in Balmaha National Park Visitor Centre car park we crossed the road towards the water. We had tried to visit the Island of Inchcailloch 2 months previously but the jetty from which to get the boat had been under the water so no one could take us over, but this time we were in luck, the 15mins boat trip, costing £17 for 5 of us was running smoothly and took us to the beautiful island.
Primed with our downloaded coordinates and a map from the visitor centre, we set off walking through a beautiful bluebell dells and natural woodland.
It wasn’t long before we came across the steep steps to a burial ground, which someone had posted was a clue to the position of the treasure. The kids all raced to find the cache and in due course had the box opened and inspected. By the time I arrived they had decided what to take and what to replace it with ( a pre requisite on finding the cache is to replace anything you take with something of equal or greater value) we took a tape measure and replaced it with a mini whisky flask, we then filled in the little log book and tucked the box back where we found it.
We carried on our walk around the island coming across a gorgeous beach with picnic tables and areas to put a portable BBQ (maybe next time), arriving back at the boat jetty at the time agreed with the boatman and left the island. Stopping off at a cafe on the way home, the portions were enormous and this helped everyone agree, it had been a success.
If anyone is thinking of going geocaching it’s a great way to get your kids outdoors and learning about coordinates.