just plain rambling

Geocaching Primer: The London Edition

So. Geocaching. Here’s the deal:

You start with a map like this one:


or better still, this one:


(Click on either map for a live scrollable/zoomable version)

The map is really important. Without it, you might be standing next to this…


… just taking in the view …


… not realizing that if you just lean out over the rail and look down…

IMG_4266It’s a cache!


The thing in the middle is a magnetic nano cache. One end unscrews, and inside there’s a teeny tiny roll of paper that you can sign to say you’ve found it. You also log it on geocaching.com (look here to see what I’ve logged so far).

Nanos and Micros (often using film canisters) are more common in urban spaces: you don’t want non-cachers noticing them.

(Incidentally – non-cachers are called muggles. Not kidding.)

But not all caches are that small. If you go to the middle of London Bridge and look behind another life preserver, you’ll find this:


It’s one of those lock’n’lock lunch containers, camouflaged with black electrical tape.

Finding this one is easy; the challenge is fishing it out without being noticed by the hundreds of tourists walking by, and without getting jumpy each time that police helicopter passes over (again?!?!) and you start to wonder if someone up there is wondering what the hell you’re doing down here.

Side note: after getting jumpy in, on, and around several highly-recognizable potential terrorist targets, the closest encounter I had with the local constabulary was when this cutie agreed to pose for a picture:


… with Geomonster and Meena’s Hello Kitty no less. What a sweetie.)

But back to geocaching. If urban caching presents the challenge of avoiding muggles (and muggle security agencies), there are other challenges out in the woods. Try hiking on Hampstead Heath, for instance, and you might see this:


Now, most reasonable people might see a hole in a tree and think:

“Hm, that’s a very interesting hole in that tree. I wonder if something lives there”.

But if you’re a cacher, and your GPS is telling you that there’s a cache somewhere close by, it’s more like:

“Hm, I wonder if I reach into that tree, will I grab something or will something grab me?”

I’m not gonna lie to you – I’d rather brave the muggles :).

But there is an advantage to a hiding spot like this. It’s easier to hide a bigger container, which leaves room for a bigger log book…


… and also ‘swag’ …


Pro tip: if you want to make geocaching a family affair: kids like swag.



    1. He’ll love it :). If you’re looking for some kid-friendly caches, try the greenbelt in behind Nortel, I’ve taken the girls there many times. We always go to this cache: http://coord.info/GC1FG85. It’s not far from the trail, a short walk from the parking lot, and a nice big container that always has lots of little toys and such. Enjoy!

  1. See, I’m SO conflicted, because the treasure-hunt quest tiny-hidden-object thing SO appeals to me, and yet the maps-i-can-never-read and feeling like a lost, incompetent boob SO feels like all the worst parts of my life already. I will geocache vicariously through you.

    1. Ah. Yes, see, this is where the GPS comes in. I don’t actually follow the map when I’m out looking: I follow the little arrow until the blue dot (me) is on top of the green flag (cache). Honestly, if there were too much skill involved I’d have given this up long ago 🙂

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