Let’s Go On A Treasure Hunt
Geocaching is just one of the attractions of elegant Hopetoun House
GEOCACHES. There could be one near you. You could even be standing beside one without realising it as there are thousands across Scotland and millions across the world.
Some are elaborate, needing GPS coordinates to lead you on the search. Others, like the one at Hopetoun House on the West Lothian coast, simply needs competitors to follow basic clues to the cache.
To those unfamiliar with the concept of geocaching, it’s an outdoor recreational activity where navigation techniques are used to find containers – geocaches – in specific locations. It could be in woodland, countryside, up-hill or down-dale. In Hopetoun’s case, it’s the grounds of the stately home.
While many will want to explore the inside of the house, the geocachers on what is called the “Hopetoun Hop” can discover the delights of the outside of this late 17th to early 18th century category A-listed building. It was set up by Leadmagnet in collaboration with the Hopetoun House Ranger Service, going live on July 2011.
“Visitors to the grounds in general tend not to undertake geocaching on spec,” says the Ranger Service’s Maree Morrison. “The people that do take on the Hop are keen geocachers anyway and have already looked up local caches before they come to visit. Our cache is logged as ‘found’ on the geocaching website only half a dozen times of year.”
Maree can let the geocache more or less look after itself and concentrate on the estate’s other activities.
“It takes a little maintenance every now and then when mice nibble it,” she says, “but generally it’s a great way for fellow geocachers to enjoy the grounds and its history. It also means people pick up additional information about Hopetoun, both the house and the designed landscape, that if they just walked about on their own, they would not know.”
There’s an element of trust involved as any individual could interfere with the cache and spoil it for others. But there’s an ethos of fair play for those involved.
“The geocaching community are very good,” says
Maree. “If they see another geocacher looking for the same cache, they will hold back and let them find it in peace. The whole point is looking and finding the caches yourself so people tend not to spoil others’ fun.
“It’s a really enjoyable way to explore the landscape. I regularly do the trail as an activity with visiting groups, particularly children.”
Access to the geocache involves an admission fee to the grounds, not the house itself. As well as the geocache, there are other activities to enjoy on the Hopetoun grounds as well as corporate events and weddings.
“We also have an orienteering course,” continues Maree, “and we run various family activities throughout the year with special events every Friday during the school holidays. However, due to popularity, all events have to be booked in advance.”
For more details, including opening hours and admission prices to the house, go to www.hopetoun. co.uk or phone 0131 319 2451. Access to the Hopetound estate itself is free.
The grounds of Hopetoun House
The hunt is on!