Geocaching is a great way of having fun in the countryside. It involves hunting out carefully hidden caches using maps and satellite navigation devices called GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers. If you find a cache (and some are very hard to spot!) there are often trade items in them that you can swap and a log book for you to record your visit. Back home you can log your visit onto the internet.
How to start geocaching
To find out about caches log onto the international geocaching website - www.geocaching.com. Registration is free and then you are ready to start geocaching!
You will first need to find out the co-ordinates and clues for your nearest caches, the quickest way is to enter a postcode. Choose which ones you want to bag and then download or enter the co-ordinates manually into your GPS receiver.
Check out the best way to get to the site using an up-to-date Ordnance Survey map and then off you go.
Geocaches in the Yorkshire Dales
We think geocaching is such a fantastic idea that we've started hiding some of our own themed caches in the national park.
Search using the keyword 'Buckden Rake' on the geocaching.com website for details of a seven cache trail around the archaeology of Langstrothdale. Search for 'Hawes Highways' for our caches in Wensleydale exploring ancient routes, find out about Malham's geology by searching for 'Malham Cove', discover beautiful Dentdale by searching for 'Dent Meander' and finally in Swaledale search for 'Reeth Remembered'.
Geocomputers in the Dales
If you forget to load the co-ordinates onto your GPS at home then pop into the national park centres in Grassington National Park Centre or Malham National Park Centre and use our dedicated 'geocomputers'. We have connections for most Garmin and Magellan units. At the touch of a button the waypoints will download to your GPS receiver.
All our national park centres have publicly accessible computers. If you are registered with geocaching.com then you can look up other geocaches in the area during your visit. Don't forget to log your finds online, we love hearing from you!
Try out geocaching in the Dales
You can hire pre-programmed GPS units from the Grassington, Malham, Reeth, Aysgarth Falls and Hawes National Park Centres. The cost is £5 for the day plus a refundable deposit of £50. Give the centre a call if you want to reserve one in advance. We have designed special leaflet trails to go with them which the whole family will enjoy. Each trail ends with the chance to find a proper geocache using the GPS receiver to guide you. If you really get bitten by the bug then you can buy your own GPS unit in one of our National Park Centres.
Hide your own geocaches
Once you've got the geocaching bug you'll probably want to hide your own geocaches. We've written some guidelines based on those produced by the Geocaching Association of Great Britain - www.gagb.org.uk and we recommend you check them out before you start.