Hi-Tech Treasure Hunt: Geocaching in Leeds
Hunt Secret Treasures, Send a Bug on a Hike and Share Your Adventures all over the World
The beauty of Geocaching is that you never know what you’ll find. And Leeds is heaving with hidden bounty. Challenge yourself to a GPS-assisted treasure hunt to steep-sloping woods, a challenging stroll to rock formations, and a puzzle cache in the city itself.
Geocaching the Otley Chevin
The Otley Chevin Cache is a GPS-led walk through the beautiful woodland of West Yorkshire. Bounty is scattered across a folded landscape of wooded coombes flooded with honeysuckle and hidden footpaths. On east Chevin Road, enter the coordinates into your phone and set off towards the nearest cache. For instance, the Old Tree Cache is one of the many treasures tracked in the woods. The GPS counts down the miles as you head closer. There’s even an arrow telling you which way to go. Reaching the destination, you then have the joy of finding the geocache, hidden away. Even if you cannot find it, the location is a spot you’d never have found otherwise.
Continue walking through the forest to the Two Finger Tree. Follow in the direction of the GPS, with the difficulty setting at 1.5. The clearing gives way to a tunnel of oak trees beside mossy stream. Then begin your hunt for the plastic tub hidden inside one of the trees. Look around to check nobodies watching – the website tells you not to let Muggles (those not au fait with the arts of the geocache) catch you in the act – then you can go over to open up the small object, known as a Micro. Inside are toys, sweets or even a travel bug to take with you and the logbook to sign.
Back on east Chevin Road, walk 300 meters to the woods of Up the Chevin. Ascending the steep slope, the intensity roubles with a detour across the forest to the Wise Owl cache. Go to the clue on the website to find its whereabouts. At the crossroads, the path improves dramatically, and with the aid of the compass, hike through the last leg to the final cache. Open the box, sign the log and set off on the walk back. Record your visit to the cache on Geocaching.com.
Leeds City Centre Treasure Hunt
Leeds City Treasure Hunt takes in the best of the city’s municipal architecture, art and heritage. Posted on the geocache website are 12 pictures of a variety of objects in Leeds City Centre. These need to be found in order to answer a number of questions here to unravel the co-ordinates.
Solving the puzzle cache is to discover the majesty of the city’s industrial growth, an early 1900s textile mill to your left, the broad cut of the River Aire to your right. Work your way north through the Headrow; use the connecting side roads of Vicar Lane, Park Row and Boar Lane. Search for caches in the railway arches and look out for the old gargoyles of Holy Trinity Church next to the modern cube of Trinity Leeds. At Albion Place walk to William Hey’s House. By visiting this Georgian townhouse, you are following in the footsteps of one of Britain’s finest surgeons.
Next head down Commercial Street to the plaque of Joseph Aspdin. He patented Portland Cement, one of the world’s most important manufactured materials. With history ringing in your ears, head down Briggate than Bridge End, for the calm of the River Aire, then walk towards the centre with the city’s successive booming industries–digital hubs, bars and galleries – running along in parallel.
Middleton Park: Easy Geocaching for the Kids
Middleton Park is the perfect destination to introduce little ones to geocaching. This is an enjoyable cache in a green area of wood and grassland, following cycle paths, walking routes and towpaths.
Very little preparation is needed and kids will be entertained throughout the day.
Before you leave, go online and find a number of sites you would pass on the way through the park. Print out the coordinates, a large colour Ordance Survey map of the location, and the cache clues. Laminate these sheets and get your Middleton pirates to bring a cracker toy to swap. Then comes the fun. From the car park follow your GPS to the treasure along the paved path. At each point of the walk, give the children a hint and set them off to find the geocache. Make a few swaps before writing a thank you note. It won’t take long for them to get how geocaching works.
Sometimes you might just get ‘lucky’ and be treated to a Multi-Cache, a collection of several caches containing a clue. Yet the very best thing about this great treasure hunt is that there will always be more to discover. Even if it just means finding a new secret place.
GPS-Devices and Apps: The Perfect Detector
You will need a dedicated GPS device or a smartphone app (such as c:geo, for Android, which is free) and get the official app for geocaching here. The best budget GPS is Garmin’s eTrex. It’s waterproof, it fits into the palm of your hand and uses a WAAS-enabled receiver, which means it is accurate to within 10ft about 95% of the time – even in remote areas. Use it alongside an Ordance Survey map to get a base map of what lies between you and your geocache.
Leeds Geocaches is a non-profit community and has a Facebook and Twitter page dedicated to geocaching. It’s all about sharing local knowledge and has tips about finding tricky caches.
How to Get Started?
To get started, sign up for free on Geocaching.com, which offers a 75-second video. To find a list of caches in Leeds, enter your location. The website lists clues and coordinates for each hide, as well as ways to contact the cache owner in case you need help.