Derbyshire · Home Education · Motherhood · Parenting · Peak District

A First Attempt at Geocaching

After having had a few quiet days enjoying the snow at home, we decided it was time to get our boots on and venture a bit further afield. The snowman is a lumpy pile of snow, a carrot lying forlornly beside it amidst a couple of grapes we’d used as eyes.

We’ve been meaning to attempt geocaching for a while now – read: years, but I’ve never actually got around to trying it. I downloaded the app a long time ago and our nearest cache is apparently 100 yards down the road. It also tells us we need tweezers to find it, so with three impatient boys, I felt we’d give that one a miss as a starting point.

So in a bid to start ticking things off my to-do list and burning off the boys’ endless reserves of energy, I decided we would head to a local park to us and give it a go.

The geocaching app was showing 5 caches on the map, despite all the descriptions saying there was a trail of 9. A few of them had people posting that the caches were missing with recent dates on, so we started with one that looked like it might be positive.

The boys followed the map on my phone until it pinged up that we were very close. It gave us a clue of ‘stumpy or not’ and so we trailed over to an enormous tree trunk.

Only to find nothing. The boys searched high and low, but we found nothing.

We moved on to the next, and the next. Two were 100% not there, and one other was telling us it was in a tree but the co-ordinates took us to a bare patch of grass so we looked in all the nearby trees, to no avail.

(We did find a lot of beautiful fungi though!)

The final one had several logs underneath it on the app saying it definitely wasn’t there, so we didn’t investigate the last one. The park trail clearly needs more maintenance.

Looping back around the park and crossing the bridge, we ended up close to the first tree stump we investigated. Thinking we’d give it one last shot, we headed over, before realising we’d missed another stump nearby.

The boys bound over and find a little plastic tub nestled in a tiny stump underneath a few branches piled on top. The contents were damp and covered with mildew, but we managed to swap a painted stone for a plastic dinosaur before signing the logbook.

Despite most of them appearing to be missing (although the app history does say they’ve been replaced numerous times, so obviously a frequent issue), the boys really enjoyed geocaching and are begging to go again on Wednesday as forest school is cancelled. We’re aiming to go somewhere a little more off the beaten track in the hope that it’s less likely people will have removed them.

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is essentially a world-wide treasure hunt, achieved by entering location co-ordinates into a GPS system. Most people will download the app onto their phone as a good starting point.

The best geocaching site to get started with is geocaching.com and the website allows you to register for free. You can then type in your town, city or postcode which will allow you to see the geocaches local to you.

Each cache has details written about it – some of them a little cryptic, and I find myself wishing I’d paid more attention to my mother doing cryptic crosswords when I was a little girl. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now.

Typing in our own postcode brought up several places we could easily park up and go for a wander, without having to walk miles in the freezing temperatures. A local park brought up a local trail of 9 caches, although it did warn that they were having problems with people stealing the caches. Feeling it was a good place to start and warning the boys in advance not to be too disappointed if we didn’t find anything, we donned hats and gloves, grabbed a flask of hot chocolate and set off in search of a needle in a haystack.

Types of Cache

Traditional Cache

There are different types of cache, varying in size and shape. Perhaps the best place to start is with a traditional cache, which is generally a plastic tub. The tub will generally contain a logbook and pencil, and sometimes will include swappable items and/or trackables.

Micro Cache:

A micro cache can generally be found in a camera film pot and are not big enough to hold any swappables or trackables.

Nano Cache:

A nano cache is like a nano SIM card – tiny! Many clues on these caches say, ‘make sure you bring a pair of tweezers!’

Multi Cache:

A multi cache is a trail which, once you have found the first one, will give you co-ordinates for the next one.

Swappables 

Swappables are generally small items that people leave in a traditional cache. More often than not they’re small trinkets to engage the children – small plastic dinosaurs, pretty shells, painted stones.

Trackables:

Geocaching.com describes trackables as ‘a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online.’

Derbyshire · Motherhood · Peak District

Foremark Reservoir, Foremark

Happiness is a child-friendly walk in autumn. It was wet today, soggy and grey, but still autumn is beautiful. 

We headed to a local reservoir, which was blissfully deserted. The car park held one other car and we never bumped into them on our travels. 

The boys wanted to go for a wander so we chose one of the circular walks, which for some reason was incredibly exciting for small boys – hunting for fence posts with coloured arrows on showing the way. It made a nice change for a walk to be well signposted. 

The boys collect leaves in every colour and snap off dead plant stems – some of them are hollow and they use them as pretend telescopes to look out over the water. I make a mental note to learn the names of these plants as the boys stuff their pockets with prickly sweet chestnuts. 

Looping back around towards the car park, we slip down to the ‘beach’, a tiny patch of sand that still delights the boys. They collect sticks, throwing them into the water and watching the waves bring them back. I sit watching them write their names in the wet sand, squealing as the water washes over their work.

Finishing our walk, the boys ask to go to the play area. We spend the rest of the afternoon here, until the heavens open and the rain descends. It’s a beautiful play area, moreso when we get the place to ourselves. 

The wind is ferocious and I make myself a promise not to leave the house without a coat and scarf from here on until next year. My hair is windswept and I bring a new meaning to the word dishevelled. 

The day never brightens up, but the boys don’t mind. I promise them that next time we can take their bikes and attempt the longer circular walk. In the meantime, they’ve filled the car with sticks and feathers; which at the very least will add to our collection of wood for our bonfire party in a couple of weeks. 

Derbyshire · Motherhood · Parenting · Peak District

Rosliston Forestry Centre

I was desperate to get out this morning, in some bizarre attempt to convince myself that the weather wasn’t that bad. It was. We packed up soup and shiny red apples before grabbing rain jackets and piling into the car. 

The journey to Rosliston is usually pretty scenic. Today I found myself stuck on a long and winding road with approximately two hundred cyclists – none of which had an ounce of courtesy and left no space for cars to pass them. Riding three/four abreast in clusters of up to twenty, these Lycra-clad, numbered numpties held no regard for the Highway Code and left me part shaking with nerves and part ready to commit murder.

But I digress.

Finally arriving at Rosliston, we find the play area blissfully deserted, which is a good start to calm my mind of the urge to bludgeon a cyclist or two to an early death. 

We attempt to follow the Science Trail but somehow or another we end up heading in the wrong direction. We followed the blue arrows which we (wrongly) assumed correlated to the path marked in blue on the map. 

Am I digressing again? 

We find a Science Trail board and I try to explain how a sundial works. Instead I confuse myself – not helped by a complete lack of sunshine and 3 boys asking a thousand questions all at once. 

The following quote, or something similar, is generally attributed to Einstein, so we’ll stick with that:

And thus, I realised that I’m a little clueless. This is a science trail for children. The board asks, what would be different about a sundial at the North Pole? 

Um…….. 

So I think maybe we’ll educate me on sundials and in due course I might be able to explain it to a six year old. 

We carry on with the science trail until a board asks us to cross a little suspension bridge – which would have been grand had it not been roped off with ten tonne of orange plastic netting. 

Another board tells us to follow the track to the hammock, to which the boys respond with excitement – except there is no hammock, only two posts and an abundance of nettles where the hammock should be. 

We stopped in the den to see if we could spot any wildlife, but really unhelpfully, all the bird feeders were empty and one bird table knocked over. As a measly consolation prize my eldest exclaims ‘I can hear a pigeon!’ which he proceeds to frighten the life out of by jumping out of the den screeching ‘there he is, mum!’ 

My youngest spills his soup all over the floor, requiring a clean up of epic proportions. Once the soup was cleared, I had to sacrifice my own soup to appease a teary-eyed soul with a grumbling belly. 

On a brighter note, the den is beautifully decorated with painted animals. 

And maybe it’s nice here. Maybe I’m just grumpy today. Maybe there’s too many things wrong that I’d usually overlook. But I didn’t enjoy this trip. When the boys suggested we head back to the car I wholeheartedly agreed, still muttering under my breath about cyclists and sundials and science trails.

We drive home to a fraught afternoon where my mood doesn’t improve and I put the boys to bed early in an attempt to regain a few snippets of sanity. 

We managed a few moments of fun this afternoon making giant bubbles, but then the rain and wind that had temporarily settled decided to return with alarming ferocity. We called it a day.

Now I sit drinking tea, feeling sorry for myself, for a bad day of my own making. 

More tea. Bath. Mindless T.V. with a tired husband. Early night. 

Then a new start in the morning with these beautiful boys of mine. 

Derbyshire · Motherhood · Peak District

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, Wirksworth

We wanted to get out of the house today, but we had no official plans. After packing up a picnic we drove to Crich Tramways only to find it queuing out of the door. We realised they were holding an event and so we turned the car around and drove to the National Stone Centre. 

Instead we spent the day in the middle of nowhere, following unofficial paths and avoiding the nettles pushing across the weaving path. In several places there were trees blocking the way that we had to climb over, and then slip under. 

We come to a field full of wildflowers that runs alongside the railway and we set up camp for the day. The boys shrug off their rucksacks, laying out a picnic alongside their paints and brushes.



The boys paint the wildflowers as the sun beats down. Once finished they place them carefully on the ground to dry and skip off to chase crickets and butterflies. They collect empty snail shells, filling their pockets with them to bring home. As soon as they hear the steam train approaching on the track, they run to the boulders lining the top of the bank. My eldest gives his little brothers a leg-up and they jostle for space atop the rock. The passengers wave, startled by three excited boys appearing from nowhere and shouting ‘hello!’. 

It’s like a scene from The Railway Children, minus the landslide and jailed father. 


Walking back, we follow the trail to the actual station where we sat waiting for a train, to no avail (it finally arrived as we’d given up and reached the top of the hill.)

We’ve walked so far today; in no particular direction, other than uphill and downhill too many times to count, that all three boys are complaining their legs hurt. 

We meander back up the incline one last time in the direction of the Stone Centre. We stop in to let the boys spend their pocket money in the shop – each of them leaving with a brown paper bag full of gemstones.

We return home, tired and sun-worn. We sit together watching the videos the boys filmed of soaring crickets and feeding butterflies. We eat outside, the way we always do. And I’m grateful that sometimes Plan B turns out better than the original.