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Geocaching

Geocaching is a great family activity. It adds interest and purpose to the healthy but sometimes dull exercise of walking.

Across the world there are hundreds of thousands of Tupperwares, 35mm film canisters and even ammo boxes hidden in woods, down lanes, on cliffs � or for the added excitement of trying not to be caught � in urban areas. The boxes contain a log book and items to swap, from books or CDs to little toys.

You take part by registering at the website www.geocaching.com with a caching name - one you make up - and getting a handheld GPS receiver.

Print off a �cache sheet� from the site for the area of the country you want to explore. Put the coordinates for the cache into your GPS receiver then off you go to find it!

Some caches are multi-stage, so you need to gather information at several stages to get the final coordinates. Once you find it you sign the log, then register your visit on the website.

To add interest, there are Travel Bugs and Geocoins. Travel Bugs are items with numbered dog tags attached, and these travel from cache to cache, gathering miles as they are logged. Some of them have missions. We recently picked one up at Lizard Point that wants to go to John O'Groats, so we left it near Lincoln to help it on its way. The coins are decorated metal discs that travel in a similar way.

Some caches are called Earthcaches - these are not boxes, but areas of natural geological interest such as Cheddar Gorge. You log them by posting a photo of you there, or answering a set question.

We started caching in October 2005 and have done nearly 150 now. We have been to places we otherwise would never have visited, and discovered beautiful areas of the country. There are apparently 134 caches within a 10 mile radius of Crich! The nearest is called B.T. 0506 and is about 400m from the Common to the west.

We went to our first �Event Cache� in August - a cacher organises new caches to begin on the same day, and local cachers meet up to have a chat and find them all. We are casual cachers - if we are going somewhere we will see if there are caches en route, or nearby. Friends of ours started after us but have just clocked 900 - they go out every weekend specifically to geocache and get dozens.

Garmin GPS Have a look around the site, but you may need to register to get the most out of it. If you fancy giving it a go, I recommend the Garmin eTrex Legend at around �120 for a good mid-range GPS ( www.globalpositioningsystems.co.uk).