Hidden gems

Geocaching in the Clent Hills, North Worcestershire. © Derek Wilbraham

Geocaching in the Clent Hills, North Worcestershire.

Project:
Geocaching: engaging with conservation
Location:
Clent Hills and Tyntesfield

Within a few miles of where you live, there is treasure in the form of geocaches just waiting to be discovered.

Geocaching is essentially a hi-tech treasure hunt that uses a global positioning system (GPS) device to find locations where a waterproof box, called a cache, has been hidden.

These boxes contain a logbook and sometimes a travelling treasure left by another geocacher. The findings of the caches and experiences of the geocachers are then shared with other like-minded geo treasure hunters, through the international geocaching website www.geocaching.com.

Protection of coast and countryside
There are many geocaches hidden in the countryside on our properties. But what does geocaching have to do with protecting our coast and countryside for the future?

The simple answer is that more people are attracted to our properties, thereby raising awareness. Geocaching is an interactive activity where we can make a real connection with visitors and explain more about conservation.

By taking part in geocaching you can discover more about the special wildlife and history of the area you're searching. You will also find out how you can make a difference and what we are doing to help preserve our special places for the future.

Tyntesfield, near Wraxhall in North Somerset, is one of our first geocaching trails and has six boxes that have been located in the wooded parkland. The theme of the caches focuses on wildlife and habitats, and each treasure box contains an interactive, family-friendly activity.

For example, there might be a spotter’s guide to identify birds, trees or insects in the woodland, or an activity to measure and age a tree, along with key facts about how we are caring for the woodland and its wildlife.

Clent Hills, near Worcestershire in the West Midlands, is one of our most recent geocaching trails and has five boxes to discover. As with Tyntesfield, there are interactive activities which promote conservation themes such as restoring grassland for butterflies as well as the issue of erosion on the hills.

Geocaching helps you to explore the countryside with fresh eyes. A recent visitor was overheard talking about the Small Copper butterfly they spotted as a result of the grassland restoration project, discovered from information in a hidden cache.

Strike a balance
As with all recreational activities, we seek to strike a balance between people enjoying their time, with the needs of wildlife, along with conservation of historic features in the landscape; geocaching is no exception.

We carefully assess and monitor the impact of geocaching on our land, as we do with all activities, and caches are sited thoughtfully to minimise disturbance to sensitive areas such as wildlife habitats and archaeological sites.

It is important that access to all caches is free of charge, that they are safe to use and located within five metres of a public right of way, avoiding the need to trample sensitive wild flowers or climb over obstacles such as barbed-wire fences.

For any keen geocachers wishing to site a new cache on our land, we ask that you contact your local National Trust team first, so we can ensure the box is hidden in a suitable location. When locating caches we encourage the following:

  • The location should not disrupt sensitive wildlife areas.
  • Caches should not be buried.
  • The location of caches should not promote potentially dangerous behaviour. For example, we have turned down a request for a cache to be placed on a small island in a lake to discourage swimming.

A thoughtfully located cache on our land can encourage people to enjoy beautiful coast and countryside, to explore areas that they might not otherwise have chosen to visit and discover more about conservation in their local area.

What our visitors think
With cache locations on our land nationwide, including Exmoor, Brecon Beacons, Lake District, South Downs and the Chilterns, we have received lots of positive feedback through the cache logbooks and online reviews. Here are just a few:

  • 'Loved the extra info posted in the cache to help identify the local wildlife.'
  • 'Yet again another great big cache box in a lovely location, which I wouldn’t have otherwise visited were it not for geocaching.'
  • 'Enjoyed the walk through an area I have only seen from a distance for many years, so it was great to finally be able to wander around and explore.'
  • 'Our first visit to Clent Hills, and wow. What a fab, beautiful day for caching, loads of bluebells out. Thanks very much for bringing us here, will definitely return.'

Find out more about geocaches near you by visiting the activities section on our website or www.geocaching.com.