I love it when I get a surprise message from some friends, asking if I’m busy. It’d come to the end of the holidays and I was wasting the remainder of my free time lounging around in my PJs - the promise of a visit was a welcome relief! Money is often tight straight after Christmas so Andy and Nikki suggested we should do a spot of Geocaching, given that this is a completely free activity and also has the added benefit of giving us all some fresh air!
For those of you who are not familiar with Geocaching, I like to describe it simply as ‘treasure hunting for Tupperware in the countryside using a GPS device as your treasure map!’ I don’t often enjoy spending time outside, so I use this as a way to trick myself into some light exercise. At the time of writing this post, there are over 2 million geocaches hidden worldwide, so it is pretty easy to find some! We chose the Almondell and Calderwood Country Park in Livingston as our destination and, although the weather wasn’t the best, we went out anyway with the hope of bagging ourselves some caches.
After stepping out of the car in the visitor car park, we quickly realised the recent wet weather was going to be a problem, but we pushed on anyway - it couldn’t be that bad. Navigating along the muddy paths to the first cache was a mission in itself, but for Nikki pushing a buggy, she quickly ended up sliding along on her knees! After handing over control to Andy and urging him to be careful with their child, she swiftly ended up sat on her bum in the muddiest of puddles (quickly followed by my own daughter) as we all watched her husband ‘surf’ down the remainder of the hill, coming to a graceful stop at the bottom - stone paths from now on!
The next cache took us on a trail past a small aqueduct and had a clever clue to help us locate it. One wet shoe and some nervous glances later, Andy emerged victorious with the second cache in hand. So pleased was he with this find, he declared it one of his favourite caches to date, high praise indeed from a veteran geocacher!
We picked up a final cache on our way back to the car and, after being startled by a rather nervous horse, a hungry baby and some wet knickers required that we cut the rest of the trip short in favour of indoor warmth.
For those of you stuck for something to do, I would definitely recommend geocaching. It’s very easy to set up – once you have your user name and the app installed on your GPS device, you are good to go. Despite these being your only requirements, I would suggest taking along the following so as not to ruin your fun:
- A change of clothes and shoes – some caches may result in getting wet or dirty
- A couple of pens – you need to sign the log book in each cache
- Water and snacks – you never know how long your adventure will take
- A camera – although remember not to take a photo of the exact location of a cache, it spoils the fun for others!
I hope this has encouraged some of you to take up this fun hobby, let me know if you have any better results than us!