WHAT IS IT?

AN outdoor adventure game that challenges players to find secret stashes in towns, cities, forests and mountains. Players use their smartphones and other GPS devices to track down caches concealed in public spaces. In the process, they discover a place they’ve never been or see a new side to a familiar area.

The hobby dates back to the roll-out of new technology in 2000, when a computer consultant chose to test the accuracy of GPS by hiding a target in the woods and posting co-ordinates to its location online. Now countless others have followed suit and there are millions of geocaches all over the world.

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Newbies should register at www.geocaching.com and enter their postcode to pull up a list of nearby caches, then lace up their boots and go. There are also a number of free apps. Stashes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and difficulty levels and sometimes contain small tradable items. Finders can leave something of their own and should sign their name in a log book and cover the stash again for the next person before celebrating their discovery.

However, success is not guaranteed – even after following the co-ordinates, users may face tricky clues to determine exactly what and where their target is.

WHO IS IT FOR?

WOULD-BE pirates, explorers and anyone else who fancies finding hidden treasure. It’s also family- and pet-friendly and can be done all year round. Those with mobility problems may struggle with some and find others completely inaccessible. However, some of the online cache descriptions include pretty thorough accounts of the surrounds as a guide.

The National:

WHERE DO I DO IT?

ALL over the place – as we said, there are literally millions of options worldwide. This includes more than 500 on Skye alone, as well as locations in the Highlands and on the small isles of Rum, Canna, Eigg and Muck.

There are two somewhere on the summit of Ben Nevis (one for summer climbers, the other for winter), one on Edinburgh’s own volcanic plug, Arthur’s Seat, and another at the bottom of the city’s Castle Rock.

Others are hidden in the centre of Glasgow and its parks, and there are plenty of others in Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth and, well, everywhere.

WHAT DOES IT COST?

IF you’re going up the hills or into the wild, you’ll need proper outdoor gear. Otherwise, those free apps we mentioned will do the trick and you can get a free membership to the website mentioned, or pay for a premium package if you get really into it.

WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE?

POSSIBLY blisters from all the walking, maybe fall-outs with the rest of your treasure-hunting gang over the clues. However, this wouldn’t be such a popular hobby if people didn’t love it and the web is full of accounts of great times from participants, some of whom have proposed to their partners after a successful mission.

I’M IN. WHERE DO I FIND OUT MORE?

Try: www.geocaching.com