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"Geocaching", Ecological Treasure Hunts That Aren't Geeky (PHOTOS)

Architecture students at Huddersfield University (UK) went on an ecological expedition to uncover caches across the hills of Marsden. See...

Architecture students at Huddersfield University (UK) went on an ecological expedition to uncover caches across the hills of Marsden. See the photos I took!

From left: Tracy, Rachel, Ateeba, Alex and Carl (tutors), Cirstea, 'The Twins' (hiding), Natalia, Magdalena, Elena and Celma.

Trekking across the moors and hills of Yorkshire is a wonderful pastime we 'northerners' indulge in on a not-so-rainy day. But imagine our look of "wha-?!" when tutor Alex Griffin said,
"Geo-caching! You are required to explore the reservoirs, forests and hills of Marsden. Make sketches, take photographs, sense the air, get the maps, get your GPS, find the co-ordinates of 7 caches, you have until sunset and your time starts... now!"

Well, something to that effect.

Here's what we did.


Day 1: This was prettier than it looks. It was bl**dy wetter than it looks too.


Day 1: We arrive near Wennesden Reservoir on a day of torrential rain. Yayy.

Geo-caching (cash-ing/cash-ay), or, geological-geographical trekking, is basically a toned down nerdy way of hunting treasure in nature. And the treasures aren't necessarily stumps or broken down walls where someone historic did something...historic. The point is to find carefully hidden containers of goodies, while breathing in life.


GEO-CACHE 3: This container contained a list of clues and co-ordinates for all 7 caches in the 10km sq. area. It also carried gifts from previous travellers kind enough to leave a small plastic memorabilia of themselves. Dinosaur toys, marbles, crayons, postcards, letters. It's very 'message in a bottle'. But on land!

A sweet trickle of water from uphill. Interesting. We stop to photograph with our non-water-proof cameras.

As architectural students it was our mission to sign the log book with our discovery and leave a small "treasure" behind. I drew two rubbish sketches, left my business card and a coloured pencil (and took a coloured crayon).

My blue umbrella was no match for the wind and rain. We therefore did not make it far before resigning to God's weather.

Should you be inclined towards eco-trekking, the good people at Geocaching.com have created a national 'real-world outdoor hunt'. Sign up with a free membership. Search the site for the nearest cache site in your region. Download the provided maps, decrypt the clues, and using a GPS navigation system, get yourself geo-caching.

You'll be glad you did. Good for the soul is that.

Pictured: friends Nalin, Ateeba, Rachel. Rachel leads the way through rain, wind, storm.

Ateeba suggests looking for a cache out of hope. No luck.

So we returned to university and our respective homes, very wet, cold, slightly elated from the altitude (I kid) and disappointed. Should we go again...? We're English, of course we will!

Day 2: We jump in Rachel's car for another go at geo-caching. This time, alhamdulillah (thanks and praise are for God), the elements are on our side. Beautiful sun, a stiff but gentle breeze, and a sky that reaches eternity.

GEO-CACHE 1: Rachel and Ateeba in their moment of glory. The first cache is found "under a large rock" (the Columbo clue), we log our names and stop for lunch.

Can you 'hear' this photo too?

A sweet elderly couple sit off-screen at their (I presume, regular) bench and leisurely share lunch. The only sound is of birds and whispering clouds. We've trekked about 1.5 miles at this point. Only 8 to go!

On our way up the roads we trespassed a farm that housed beautiful horses. I scared them though.


He's sexy and he knows it. I'm not kidding, this steed actually posed. Posh breed eh?

Ateeba spotted a tree swing... Tracy said it's unsafe... I said it's lopsided... Rachel got on anyway. Then we all joined in. It beats any theme park, hands down.

The house on top of the hill. Kind residents give the public access through their front (back?) gravelled garden. We jump over a fence, crunch through the footpaths and leave smiles behind.

At about 2pm we've trekked 3-4 miles uphill and through marshy fields, with water coming up to our knees. I had to stop and snap this picturesque view. I suddenly remember Yusuf Islam's song "Green fields" and begin whistling the tune for the rest our hunt.

What goes up must come down. We realise we need to either roll ourselves or just free-fall to reach the thin beige road following the reservoir that you see. That is where the next geo-cache lies. Oh great...!

Tracy points at interesting stuff. The small town of Marsden sits in the background.


GEO-CACHE 2: Rachel the warrior-princess finds the second cache at "the end of a wall under a mossy stone." A bunch of fellow university students walked passed at this point and shared in our find. They were on another aim to take thousands of photos and reach a giant mast. Boys.

On the way back we see where the reservoirs merge and where green meets blue. There is a stillness in the air that seems to make time stand still, yet move like water. Too poetic? I know, I was affected.


GEO-CACHE 3: The third and our final cache is found dislodged near a cliff/hill. We were accompanied by two sheep and their smells. I left a stick drawing of Rachel and I as my contribution. Note my stake in the photo with the wellies.

The third cache was found just off-centre beyond the first hill. After all that walking we take rest like elderly women and snack.



I think I'd like to paint this photo. Look at those clouds and shades of green. Beautiful.

Uh-oh, rain? Not quite, we just miss a light shower. Good thing too, says the inner-eco-muslim in me, that's enough ecological welfare and environmental love for the week. So we drove into Marsden town and had afternoon tea with cake.

Towards the end of the day we met up with other students and tutors. Chatted about the purpose of geo-caching,

"It's not nerdy. The idea is to explore, to experience other places, to become familiar with nature". - Alex Griffin.

Heavy words sir. Heavy. I have converted.

Interested? Join in!

+ Geocaching

Peace + eco-jihad.
Zaufishan, The Eco Muslim

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