Okay, so first off the disclaimer. I was a Brownie and a Guide and never once did I do orienteering. Maybe someone else knew something I didn’t (as I’m quite well-known within the family for taking longer detours when they’re meant to be a short cut), but having a compass and plotting things and doing whatever you do has never happened in my life. I’ve also never been a rambler (apart from in speech and writing).
So today we tried out Geocaching – as our local National Trust place Polesden Lacey does it. As we’re National Trust Members it didn’t cost us a thing, just our membership card as a deposit for the GPS receiver – which already had everything pre-programmed in. All we had to do was follow the co-ordinates on the GPS to find each Geocache, sign the logbook and move onto the next one. We were also provided with a map.
Actually, bar number 1 and 3 we did find everything – at the start we had no idea what we were looking for and number 3 was impossible to find – but once we got to the second one and found a round container with a film tube inside it with a roll of paper which is in fact the logbook (I signed all ours with H’s name) it all clicked – and became fun for all of us (before then Shaun was complaining a bit that it was a bit boring). I was particularly smug when we found number 12 and were the first people to find it today – considering there’d been a good five or six people before us too. Ner!
The GPS receiver had our route pre-programmed in, and the few times I accidentally pressed that we’d completed one level it was easy enough to backtrack in the receiver and find the clue we’d missed (I even did one manually, go me and my supposed lack of navigational skills!) – oh, and I forgot to say, the man at Polesden Lacey told us “this used to be called Orienteering you know” – to which I piped up “ah, and then it got all modern with computers and stuff, right?” – I get it!
We got to walk around parts of the grounds we’d never visited before which was good – including a killer hill all the way back up towards the end of our favourite tree tunnel. H was amazing and walked most of it – though was really tired by the end. I tracked it in Endomondo and it comes in at 2.2 miles which isn’t too bad a distance.
We’re now on the lookout for more Geocaches locally – I’ve been told there’s one on Epsom Downs so that might be our next one – and the best bit? In some of the geocaches people leave a little present. If you want that little present then you substitute it with something of equal value. H decided she wanted a little toy chick, so we left a conker, but then she wanted a ladybird so we traded the chick for that – so she’s learning she can’t just take things without leaving something for the next person too which I reckon is a pretty good lesson. (it’s also a good way to find a new home when you’re overwhelmed with party bag trinkets)
By the time we got to the end we were close enough to the cafe/restaurant area, so treated ourselves to a nice National Trust ice cream – I reckon we earned it!
I bet I’d have been quite good at orienteering too. Hmph.
National Trust places with free Geocaching (deposit of some kind may be required)