CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Derbyshire Life today CLICK HERE

Family activities: Hunting for geocache treasure in the Peak District

PUBLISHED: 10:28 05 May 2015 | UPDATED: 20:39 23 October 2015

Ladybower Reservoir Photo: Gary Wallis

Ladybower Reservoir Photo: Gary Wallis


Geocaching is an exciting outdoor treasure hunt for the digital generation

The 'treasure chest'The 'treasure chest'

We now take GPS technology for granted. Smart phone apps allow us to find the nearest restaurants and petrol stations, you can update your location on social network sites, while car journeys are made easier with a simple SatNav.

It is now 20 years since the GPS satellites became fully operational and allowed technology to adapt in new, fascinating ways. In the two decades we’ve been able to accurately pinpoint our location with gadgets, there has been an explosion in usage – particularly since the millennium as GPS technology became commonplace.

It’s not just on the road that this hi-tech boom has made our lives more fun; there has also been much use of hand-held GPS devices on the hills of Derbyshire. As a hobby, geocaching may have had a bit of a ‘geeky’ beginning, but there are now thousands of people taking part in the hiking treasure hunts and families are discovering some of the best are right on their doorstep. Taking part in a geocache hike is one of the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾.’

The wonderful thing about geocaching for those who have families is that it can actually encourage reluctant young walkers to get active in the outdoors. I’ve written several walking books and make sure I take my two kids with me whenever I can, so I know it’s often difficult to persuade them to put on their walking boots and waterproof trousers. But dangle a bit of ‘treasure’ in front of them like a Peak District carrot and you may find the days begins very differently.

Finding geocache treasureFinding geocache treasure

The adventure – and it is an adventure – starts at home. You firstly have to choose which bit of hidden treasure you’re going to look for. The website is brilliant for this. There are so many geocaches that have been placed – literally thousands – that you should be able to find one near the spot you actually want to go walking in. Often, the geocache can be a little extra something to get you and the kids more motivated.

Eric Schudiske, from the website says the rise in the hobby has been phenomenal over recent years. ‘Geocaching continues to grow in popularity year over year, fuelled in large part by the growth of the smartphone. The free Geocaching app gives would-be explorers a chance to hit the “Find Nearby Geocaches” button and be off on a spontaneous adventure in no time.

‘Since launching 2000, more than 10 million accounts have been created. We estimate, globally, that there are more than 1,000,000 people actively geocaching each year. We’ve seen geocaching grow from just 75 geocaches around the world in 2000 to more than 2.5 million hidden around the world today.’

Once you’ve picked the cache you want to find, your next job is to solve a puzzle. On the site there’ll be a series of letters you have to decode and it’s important that you spend time doing this as it will make your job of finding it much easier. The geocache we opted for was close to Ladybower Reservoir and had been set up by a Scout group from Hillsborough, Sheffield. Deciphering their code is something the kids enjoyed doing and it told us that we needed to be looking ‘under a pile of stones near a wall.’

Once you’ve written down the co-ordinates, you’re all set. Well, almost. The crucial job before you set off is making sure you’ve got everything you need in your bag. Apart from the usual good quality clothing and footwear, you have to take a map of the area you’re heading to. Ordnance Survey maps at a scale of 1:25 000 will be a great aid, but the most important bit of kit is the GPS. After it’s aligned with satellites, this will give you a 10 figure grid reference that will allow you to find the precise location of the cache. Don’t forget to write down the co-ordinates from the geocaching website.

Handheld GPS devices needn’t require a mortgage extension – there are models out there for under £100 – but check your smart phone to see if you can get an app that would help. There are plenty out there to choose from.

When we were kitted up at Fairholmes car park, next to Ladybower Reservoir, the kids were off! I’ve never seen them more motivated to take part in a lengthy countryside walk. It gave me the chance to teach them a bit of map reading, dealing with grid references and locating our position with the GPS. After that, I gave leadership powers over to them! Whether you’re out with children or grandchildren, I’d urge you to do this if possible. Let them follow the map and find the way to where the treasure is to be found.

They did well. Climbing up to Lockerbrook Farm, taking the right paths, choosing the correct direction. We were soon in the right area to start hunting for the pile of stones beside the wall. The top tip here is that you can’t rely on just a six-figure grid reference; this will get you to the rough area where you need to be looking but when you’re actually there you’re going to need more accurate co-ordinates.

This is the part when you hold the GPS in front of you and watch your co-ordinates change as you walk each step. And it’s literally a case of moving around to match your reading with the figures given on the website. Too far one way and you have to come back. Carefully does it... match them up. It became clear which wall we were looking for, and then the search was on for a pile of stones.

Hidden beneath mossy rocks was a white geocaching plastic tub; inside was a choice of low-cost toys, with the idea being that you choose one to take and leave another behind. We came away with a rubber bouncing ball and left a fossil dig kit. If you find this, take care because it’s messy!

Inside each geocache you’ll also find the all-important log book and a pencil. This is so you can record your visit, saying who was there, what the date was, what you took and noting the gem of treasure you left behind for the next family going on their own adventure.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Derbyshire Life and Countryside visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Derbyshire Life and Countryside staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Derbyshire Life and Countryside account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Andrew Griffiths meets Jim Dixon, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Peak District National Park.

Read more

This walk offers a dance with the Dove and a meander by the Manifold, whilst along the way passing a church, castle remains, country houses and a hollow way

Read more

With winter on the horizon, trees glow with colour, migratory birds arrive and house spiders set off in search of a mate

Read more

Ann Hodgkin investigates a case of the sincerest form of flattery… or industrial espionage!

Read more

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s vision is of landscapes rich in wildlife, valued by everyone. They will achieve this 
by pursuing their mission of creating Living Landscapes. Here Julia Gow, the White Peak Reserve Officer at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust tells us about the reserve above the River Wye

Read more

Nigel Powlson visits Sudbury where a shopping courtyard is attracting even more visitors to this quintessential English village

Read more

If you’re walking in the Peak District, the chances are that you could encounter a reservoir at some point during your ramble. There are dozens of resevoirs dotted around all corners of the national park, we pick some of our favourite walks from our archive.

Read more
Peak District

A five-year Heritage Lottery-funded scheme, launched in 2010, was designed to encourage the restoration and conservation of the distinctive landscape character of a large area of north-east Derbyshire.

Read more

Enjoy the wonder of woodland in our glorious Derwent Valley on this park and ride special.

Read more

Paul Hobson reveals some of the fascinating wildlife there is to be found in this month of transition

Read more

From far away constellations to gas clouds, our night skies are bursting with natural wonders – if you know where to look... Viv Micklefield goes stargazing in Derbyshire

Read more

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust works across six Living Landscapes with 46 nature reserves to ensure there is wildlife and wild places for everyone. Reserve officer Sam Willis tells us about one of his favourite places – Ladybower Wood Nature Reserve

Read more

A multi-million pound makeover attracts more leading brands to one of the UK’s biggest shopping destinations

Read more

The first ever National GetOutside Day takes place on Sunday 30 September with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Topics of Interest

Local Business Directory

Property Search