What is Geocaching?
Geocaching marries the old-fashioned treasure hunt with modern technology and is catching on like wildfire in Perthshire. Players try to locate hidden containers, called caches, using handheld GPS systems or GPS-enabled mobiles and then share their experiences online at geocaching.com. Caches can vary in size from nano (minuscule) to large and contain small collectable items such as geocoins, toys, badges and key rings.
The Growth of Geocaching
There over 1.5 million geocaches around the world. Perthshire itself has in excess of 1000 caches, making it the geocaching capital of Scotland. The sport has seen huge growth in recent years with an estimated five million geocachers worldwide and the sport is only 12 years old.
Mega Scotland Geocaching Event
Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust (PKCT) saw early on the potential of geocaching to draw visitors from around the globe to Perthshire Big Tree Country and quickly got behind the Mega Scotland Geocaching event in 2010.
Talking about the event, Paul McLennan, PKCT said: “The Mega Scotland Geocaching Event saw nearly 2000 geocachers taking part, with 21 countries represented. It generated around £300,000 for the local economy as many visitors stayed for a week or more. Perthshire Big Tree Country continues to draw visitors from across the globe and it is estimated that is now worth £1.5million to the local economy per annum.”
The Countryside Trust has led the way in introducing local tourism businesses to the opportunities for developing new business from the emerging geocaching market. Paul, an avid geocacher himself, has led several geocaching workshops in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council economic development team. The workshops start in the classroom where Paul introduces the group to activity followed by time out of doors geocaching.
Perthshire is attracting more and more visitors to the area through its quality caches. It appeals across all ages and abilities to people who enjoy being outdoors. The magnificent vistas, wooded landscapes and well made trails throughout Perthshire are seen by geocachers as a fantastic bonus. This hugely popular high tech treasure hunt takes people to places they may not normally venture, allowing participants to see and find hidden gems on their adventure to seek out hidden treasure.
What Makes a Good Cache?
Geocacher appreciate well placed caches designed to bring out the jaggy little bits of local history. When these are combined with quality swaps you are offering the gold standard of the geocaching world. The Countryside Trust has been one of the forerunners in ensuring Perthshire gained a reputation for the standard of caches available. There are now around 200 PKCT caches across Big Tree Country and on The Cateran Trail.
Geocoins are often used in caches as swaps. They are trackable and extremely collectable because of their intricate designs and come in a wide range of shapes and metals. The Trust had Big Tree Country geocoins produced for the Mega Scotland event featuring David Douglas and the Douglas Fir and also The Birnam Oak. You may come across some in far distant parts of the globe.
A Travel bug is yet another aspect that adds to the fun element of geocaching. They are items found in caches that have a trackable tag attach to them. This allows you to track the item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online.
An activity for the whole family
The treasure hunt aspect of geocaching makes it a great way for parents to get children and young people out in the fresh air. Kinnoull Hill has become recognised as a great geocaching spot for families, particularly along the Wildwood Safari where lots of child friendly caches are hidden in the vicinity of the animal sculptures. On average cachers spend three to four hours in the Woodland Park.
Wheelchair Friendly Caches
The Countryside Trust is committed to opening up access to Perthshire’s countryside to people of all ages and abilities. At Quarrymill Woodland Park at Scone, two of the walks have been specially laid out for wheelchair users with accessible caches along the way. There is also a series of caches listed on geocaching.com called the Bob Bennett series that are all wheelchair friendly.
How do I get started?
Visit geocaching.com and read the guide to the game and watch the short film. You can put in your postcode and see just how many caches there are hidden in your immediate vicinity. Then you can register for a basic membership for free. This is quite sufficient to get you started. (If you become hooked, you can always upgrade to premium membership at a later stage) Then chose your cache and get out into Perthshire Big Tree Country and start your first treasure hunt. Please note: geocaching is extremely addictive!