Ah Geocaching – You may have never heard of it, or have and don’t play it or you are a GEOCACHER! You can be a Geocacher from any country and it is a global game which means you can play it at home or abroad: How awesome is that?

Now to answer the question you might be asking, Yes I am a Geocacher but I’m nowhere near prolific compared to many others. I often hunt out geocaches when I travel abroad as many are placed in areas of significance but not the norm for a tourist to visit, exploring a place of interest and/or beauty. Of course, I have found geocaches in my local area and actually own one myself after adopting it from a fellow geocacher – I walk pass the location 2-3 times a week and I do not live far that any maintenance/replacement can be done fairly quickly.

If you have watched the video at the top of the video then you have learned what geocaching is and if you haven’t – Go watch it! It is an activity for all abilities, whether you play regularly or not. I am able but I have also been out with groups of people with a range of disabilities from being blind, in a wheelchair, learning and mental – It really is an inclusive activity.

Geocache containers and their hiding places

As the video states, geocaches range in size, containers and difficulty. Thy can be small nano containers which are magentic, or large containers with treasures that a pirate would be proud of. You can be taken into the centre of a city filled with lots of people or into the hills, where there are less people. Those whom don’t know of this game are known as “Muggles” and the aim is to grab a geocache (cache for short), sign the logbook and return it as exactly as you found it without being discovered – Trickier than you think! However, whilst many find enjoyment of being a ninja, if you get the odd look, lack subtlety or just want to celebrate your acheivement, it is okay! (Seriously, it is.) Just remember, other geocachers maybe near by and you want them to have the same journey or discovery as you did, as it’s all part of the fun. Some of the hiding places are very ingenious, so if you think something might be a little crazy, check it!

On the hunt for geocaches…

What do you need? The answer is is the video, either a phone with GPS or a GPS device and many people find that the latter are often more accurate but both devices will encounter similiar problems and that is mainly sateillite coverage. If you go to find a cache in the woodlands and their is a lot of folliage, expect the ‘distance’ to be off and when you get within 30ft of the cache location, start looking. I have got 2ft within a cache location before according to the GPS and the cache itself was actually about another 10ft away. These things like many aspects of the game will come to you in time, also learning new little things that build up your experience, skills and knowledge of the game.

There are many tips out there and a large community to support and share stories. Each geocache will have a little information on them about the cache itself, maybe a handy hint (if you are struggling) but it is also handy to read previous logged comments by other geocachers too.

Come on… join us!


Yorkshire: Hackfall Woods

hf11Hackfall Woods in Ripon, North Yorkshire is a wonderful woodland that I have had the wonderful opportunities to visit on several occassions, but also help with some of the conservation work to restore it to its former glory. The woodland is first mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086 with ownership over the past millennium ranging from the Knights Templar, Lords, Earls, the local village folk and for the past 40 years has been owned by the Woodlands Trust.

Entry sign from Grewelthorpe village entrance.


The woodland is very large consisting of 117.67 acres from flat ground to very steep climbs to reach the highest parts with the rewarding views. However, the woodland is filled with wonderful colours, cascades, follies, warerfalls and a winding riverside so that ‘rewarding view’ is only a perspective, nature as beautiful looking from above as experiencing within. There are four main walking trails to see the woodland which cater to all abilities and time-restraints, however due to the terrain wheelchair access is near impossible. If you would like to find out more about the walks around Hackfall Wood just click here.

Mowbray Castle (except top-right image, which is Fisher’s Hall)

Other buildings at Hackfall include The Banqueting House (which the featured image at the top of the page was taken from), which has been beautifully restored and can now be rented out as a holiday cottage from The Landmark Trust. Walking trails converge on both sides of the house (also known as “The Ruin”) particularly as this gives visitors a birds-eye view of the woodland, which on a clear day means that you can see for miles – Absolutely breathtaking!

Down by the pond and fountain you can find the Rustic Temple, a small place to sit and watch the world go by as well as other visitors. The fountain does constantly flow wither water but rather displays a small show every 15 minutes during summer when everything is in working order, although I have been aware of some issues recently that need repairs. Many walking trials divide from this central place which lead you up rocky terrain or down to the riverside, with one such trial taking you past the building titled The Grotto and then eventually to a set of steps that lead you up to Fisher’s Hall.

Throughout the site there are information boards detailing you about the buildings and of course, the flowers and wildlife. Visiting in Spring, Summer and Autumn are brilliant times to see Hackfall in all its glory and the woodland is known for the array of Bluebells on sight that typically bloom in late April. Keen birdwatchers are also in for a treat and I know people whom have seen Kingfishers here on more than on occasion!



Bluebells in bloom, woodlands and the riverside

Free parking is available on the site but this is small, so arrive early! If the car park is full, there are two layby’s alongside but please head to any signs asking not to park in front of farmyard gates. If these are also full, head back to the village of Grewelthorpe and park near the The Crown Inn pub as a walking path runs alongside the building (signs are posted at the start), which take you to the back entrance of Hackfall Wood. The walk is around 10 minutes through fields and over stiles, a popular route for villagers whom frequently walk their dogs in the area. If you feel like you are going in the wrong direction, someone should be along sooner or later to query this 🙂

An amazing, beautiful landscape in rural Yorkshire – Pay it a visit, you will not regret it!

Yorkshire: Crackpots Mosaic Trail

Crackpots Mosaic Trail is an enjoyable trail around part of Dallowgill which is marked with 22 mosaics depicting local scenes of flora and fauna which might be encountered along the route. Located near the village of Kirkby Malzeard, the route is around 7 miles (11km) consisting of paths which are rough underfoot with loose stones, as well as fields which depending on the time of year can vary in condition.

We completed this trail on a very sunny and hot day at the beginning of June, barely seeing anyone on the trail going in reverse and never overtaken by anyone and as a group of 15, this is something we expect as our walking abilities are all different but we all stick together – Start together, stay together, finish together. Nature was at its most powerful time, flowers and trees blooming alike, animals and their young in the fields we walked next to and in – Nature, I love you!

Some of the mosaics…

We didn’t find all the mosaics either due to us missing them or removed as they were being repaired, this only applied to two so don’t let this put you off this wonderful walk in the countryside. Some are hidden behind the overgrowth and keep those eyes peeled!!

If you would like to complete this trail yourself, click here for a pdf copy of the route with details of each mosaic. Enjoy!


P.S. Nearby, there is an ice cream parlour called G&T’s which I throughly recommend paying a visit too after your walk *wink* (Yes, we did this and so glad we did so too!)

Yorkshire: Little Dear Woods ~ A Revisit

In my previous post about Little Dear Woods an Outdoors Centre in Mirfield, West Yorkshire I did say I would be back and I have – The theme for this visit? Bushcraft!

Over Christmas 2015, parts of Yorkshire and other parts of the UK were affected by serious flooding after continous heavy rainfall with little stoppage in rain over days to allow land to dry. Rivers and lakes burst their banks causing signifcant damage to homes and businesses with still much recovery still to do at the time of writing (May 2016). Little Dear Woods was no exception, the facilities under 3ft of water on Boxing Day with staff members being able to canoe all over the property accessing the damage. At the time of our visit (March 2016 – Yes, a bit of a delay but didn’t want to interrupt the Budapest posts!), the centre was open for business and whilst parts of the centres such as the climbing wall etc were still out of bounds it was clear that the staff had put in a lot of hard work to make the business operational again.

Our bushcraft session consisted of three activities which you can learn more about below:


Activity 1 – Making Fire for the Kelly Kettle

Ah, making fire – An interesting topic! So many resources, ways to do it and how to do it yet even the most experienced even struggle in all conditions even the right ones. I have soent many summers building fires exploring different methods, trying new ideas, sharing other people’s ideas and experiences – This is sometimes a blessing and a curse.

Any how… Today’s aim was create a fire within the base of a kelly kettle to boil the hot water within to make hot drinks for later in the afternoon. Kelly kettles are a great piece of kit in my opinion that I have used in the past and yet again, I digress…

With a fire steel and some cotton wool our group was shown how to use this former listed item as well as the best way to use the cotton wool by teasing it out slowly so their is a higher surface area for fire sparks to catch it. After successful attempts at this in pairs, we moved on to try adding vasoline to the cotton wool (remember to wash your hands of the vasoline before you try to light), as well as trying silver birch bark and bullrush with and without cotton wool. Silver birch bark is great almost better than paper to start a fire due to the oils in the bark, whilst bullrush is an extremely poor in lighting if at all BUT only when used on its own. When bullrush is placed on top of the teased out cotton wool and both materials alight, the materials burn a lot longer than they would normally individually which is great when you need to start building that fire slowly bigger and bigger.

Using a combination of cotton wool, silver birch bark and small sticks to use in the base of the kelly kettle once we got a small fire going we placed the top of the kelly kettle over the base and started to add sticks gradually increasing in lengths through the hole in the top of the kettle whilst adding needed air through the base by blowing. It took both groups a while to get going but their was a great sense relief when the fire truly takes hold and within 5 minutes the water begins to boil.

Activity Two – Atlatl (Spear-Thrower)

Letting the kelly kettles to breathe, we moved onto our next activity which required us to look around the grounds for long sticks, one per person to make an Atlatl (a spear-thrower) which using a sharp blade would wittle an edge pointed enough to fit into the end of a cane to throw over distances. After a health and safety demonstration about how to use the knife, we got to work and I have to say I was very proud of mine as working with woods and knives is something I have had very little experience with.

Once we had all finished it was spear-throwing time!! Going to a clear area set aside at Little Dear Woods for such an activity, we all took turns attempting to use our Atlatl’s to throw a bamboo cane over a field using the tradition method and it isn’t easy to throw it at a great distance, but as we practised more and more we made slow increases in our throws.

Activity 3 – Marshmellows

To finish our activity session off it naturally had to end with hot drinks and roasting marshmellows over an open fire. Using the hot water from the kelly kettles we had used earlier in the fire making activity, it was a nice end to a pleasant day – Shame about the unpredictable weather but hey ho, that is the UK for you!


The question is now… what adventure shall we carry out with Little Dear Woods next?

Yorkshire: Little Dear Woods

Little Dear Woods, Mirfield, W.Yorkshire

Our session was led by instructor Bon, a lively, passion-filled lady whom provided one of the best sessions I have had with an outdoors company in some time. She was organised, attentive to everyone’s needs and also at hand to observe your shooting technique with visual and physical demonstrations, as well as placing some funky music on as we practised on the range as to quote Bon herself “Shooting in silence is boring and you can’t dance either!” My kind of person!

We had the opportunity to shoot with traditional bows as well as a crossbow, with many practice shots later, it was competition time but not in the traditional sense. No, whilst the central gold circle is often to prize in this case, we needed to hit certain colours a certain amount of times with the aim to create an insect. A paper plate each with a large box full of colouring pens, the game began and remember until you get a body and a head, you can’t add eyes/legs/mouth because you don’t see people with floating body parts, do you?

Anyway, in the spirit of Robin Hood and Katniss Everdeen we were eager beavers, nervous too so a few of us hit the white – Someone even got one of the handles connected to the target, but sadly not worth any extra points, what?!? Accuracy got better, but like many things, practice, practice, practice and we don’t do archery enough to be any good but we had lots of fun and that’s what counts!!

Apart from the archery, we didn’t get to see much of the grounds though I managed to get a few photographs as we returned from the archery range. The woods are large, well maintained and set up for different groups, accomodating different needs and abilities. A bouldering barn, a pottery barn, a creativity building (dance, music etc), places to learn and experience bush craft as well as off site activities including climbing, kayaking, canoeing and much more.

This is a place we will definately be visiting again to sample some of the other activities on offer. If you would like to find out more information about Little Dear Woods, just click here.