We have three anglers on Alder Lake this week. They were dropped off here by the dad by one of anglers who, with a friend, has gone on a week’s geocaching and wine tasting around France. The wine tasting you’re probably familiar with. But geocaching?

GPS treasure map

It all began in May 2000 when ‘selective availability’ meant that everyone, and not just the military, got to use GPS. This meant treasure hunting could move into the twenty-first century. No more ‘three paces south from the oak tree’ and ‘X’ marks the spot on a tatty map but a string of GPS co-ordinates that you can download.

Chris, Ruadhri and I went on a geocaching expedition on Wednesday, Ruadhri’s school-less day of the week. Our first stop was at Toulx Ste Croix, a village about 10 km away. It’s famous for having the oldest Christian statues in France – two well-worn lions. We followed the track shown on Chris’s GPS and found ourselves behind the Panoramic Tower, on a rocky field. According to our hardware, we were slap bang on the little treasure chest that marked where the cache was. We poked and searched for a while, and then decided to decode the clue. This was given in a straightforward code on the sheet we’d printed off from the geocaching website.

Ruadhri with the cache

Aha. Now we had a better idea where to concentrate our search. Rors and I went one way, Chris went another. We were in shorts and there were a lot of brambles to push through. Ouch. I made a mental note to wear trousers for geocaching in future. And since we’d seen a snake earlier, a harmless one though, I added gloves to the list of necessary items. I wasn’t going to stick my hand into any crevasses!

Then Chris gave a shout. He’d found it! Carefully wrapped in an padded wallet and then a plastic bag, was a small plastic box. The cache.



Rors opened it to discover what treasures there were. How it works is that, for most caches, you take something out and leave something in its place, and also sign the log that’s there.

We replaced the wizard figure Ruadhri took a shine to with a polished amethyst. Fair exchange is no robbery. Then we wrapped everything up again and replaced the box exactly where we’d found it, reinstating the rocks and leaves that had been around it.

The list of everyone who has found the cache so far

Feeling well pleased with ourselves, we went up the Panoramic Tower to enjoy the view. We also watched while the ancient sarcophagi were put back into place in the old bell tower. I imagine they’d been taken off for a clean-up.

Then we went onto Les Pierres Jaumatres, where the next cache was waiting for us. Chris navigated us to the right spot up beyond the main rocks, and we began hunting. This time I found the treasure, which was in another well-concealed plastic box. The log showed that several people had found this one by accident.

Rors took a small plastic car and we left one of my handmade silver and Peruvian bead mobile phone charms.

Last stop was for a micro-cache at the Lavoir in Boussac. This time there was just the log to sign in the film canister. This one, like the Toulx one, had been put in place by Fred & Michelle. (The Pierres was put in place by Fildefred.)

A micro cache this time

We didn’t do badly at all for our first go at geocaching – we found 3 out of 3. We’ll definitely be doing it again. It was a great way to spend a morning. We’re also planning to devise our own geocaches for other people to find.


Today’s French word: le trésor – treasure