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devon geocaching

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a popular outdoor treasure-hunting activity where you use a GPS device, like a smartphone, to search for hidden containers. Geocaching is an extremely family-friendly activity and is a great way to get the whole family exploring the great outdoors. Once more, it is completely free.

What is Geocaching - free family activity - treasure hunting in Devon

A trip to Devon’s beautiful countryside will not disappoint any ‘geocacher’, from a novice to an expert. With hundreds of miles of public footpaths, beautiful coastlines and an abundance of countryside, it will come as no surprise Devon is home to over 25,000 hidden containers.

Where did geocaching start?

Geocaching is similar to the 150-year old “letterboxing”, where people would follow clues and landmarks in a story to locate a hidden container.

Where did geocaching start - treasure hunting in Devon

With the improved accuracy of GPS technology, in May 2000, geocaching as we now know it was born. Dave Ulmer, in America, took the initiative to bury a container in the middle of a woods and post the coordinates on the internet. Inside was a collection of items, including books and money.

How do you do it?

What you need

Geocaching is a free activity the whole family will enjoy. As with any outdoor activity, you will need to pack sensible items and be safe. Along with reading the Ordnance Survey’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Walking“, here are some of the things you should take:

  • Sensible footwear, such as walking boots
  • A map and compass (technology isn’t always reliable)
  • Food and drink
  • Appropriate clothing and a waterproof coat

what do you need for geocaching - treasure hunting in Devon

Geocaching can be done with a map and compass, however, if you’re new to the game, then we recommend you get one of the apps. have a very good app. If you are a competent map reader you can view the geocaching locations on their site prior to setting off.

Where do you begin?

There are a few different variations you can try, some of our favourites include:

  • Traditional
    As the name suggests, this is the original type of geocache. Container sizes may vary, but at a minimum, they will have a logbook in which you can record your visit. Some contain other items people have left (see “What do you leave?”).
  • Multi-Cache
    This type of geocache takes you on a trail of multiple containers, with each container possessing the coordinates to the next container.
  • Mystery or Puzzle
    If you love puzzles then this type of geocache is for you. These will require you to solve puzzles to determine the location of the container. These often include riddles or encrypted coordinates.

Once you’ve picked what type of geocache you want to do, you will need to select your first treasure hunt. There are two ratings you need to consider to determine the difficulty of the geocache, they are:

  • Difficulty
    This refers to the mental challenge of locating the container.
  • Terrain
    This describes the hardness of the terrain. If you’re new to exploring or have young children, it’s probably best to start off with an easier terrain and build both your knowledge of the outdoors and your confidence.

(Both ratings are on a scale of 1-5, with one being the easiest and five being the hardest.)

What do you leave?

The great thing about geocaching is that there is often treasures to be uncovered. Whilst these may not have a monetary value, they often are valued possessions to the people that left them. Although not necessary, part of the fun is exchanging one of your possessions for an item in the container. The only rule here is that you leave something of equal or greater value. All containers will have a logbook for you to record your visit.

what do you leave - geocaching - treasure hunting in Devon

It is important to leave the container as hidden as you found it so it doesn’t become “muggled“. This usually refers to a non-geocacher, also known as a muggle, dismantling or removing the items from the container (the name was inspired by J K Rowling’s Harry Potter).

Our top three geocaches in Devon for beginners

1. Traditional: Choo Choo Cache
“Overlooking the Dartmoor Railway this Choo Choo Cache awaits.”

2. Multi-Cache: Church Micro 1954… Mortehoe
“A Church Micro at St.Mary’s, Mortehoe”

3. Mystery or Puzzle: Blackmore Gardens
Located somewhere in the gardens…

Want to go geocaching in Devon? Find your perfect cottage here.

Sources: Matt White and DM.

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