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Geocaching Information on www.gpshobby.info

This site was set up in 2001 to support the promotion of Geocaching and good practice by Geocachers and Geocaching web sites.
This is NOT a geocaching web site, and is not intended to become one. Most of the information below dates from 2001.
for Robin's thoughts in 2009, see the interview with a high school student in USA.
Read about "how we started geocaching", and that cache near Esher. Then look at the bottom of this page :-)

What is Geocaching ?

GPS Geocaching is a new "treasure hunt" hobby which relies on the Internet, GPS, and peoples willingness to get outside, in the open air. It only started in May 2000, in the USA, after the Americans switched off the deliberate error which had degraded the accuracy of GPS systems. Now any cheap hand-held GPS will pinpoint your position and guide you to within a yard or two of the hidden geocache. These geocache positions are on the Net.

What does a Geocacher do ?

Geocache The majority of Geocachers simply search for geocaches planted by others. This may often be combined with a trip to, and a walk around, an area that they have not visited before. Other Geocachers will hide a container in an interesting location (historical, scenic, personal importance), and will post the GPS coordinates to a Geocaching web site page. The page will include the latitude longitude coordinates, a cache and terrain difficulty level, and a description of the area and/or container contents. It may also include what amounts to a "tourist guide" of the area illustrated with pictures. e.g. hints of good spots to visit or things to do. Those finding the cache will take an item, leave an item, make a log entry into the log book, and then post a visit report or "log" on the web site page. If they cannot find it, then this is also reported.


What's in a Geocache ?

cache contents The most important and essential item in a geocache is the log book, together with pens and pencils. Visitors write their visit in the book, along with whatever thoughts they wish to share with others. They will normally append a similar report as their "log" on the geocaching web site. The contents of a geocache will change, as people visit it, take things out, and put other things in. Many include an instant camera, so that visitors can take a picture of themselves, perhaps taken during a walk around the area. Other items might include small, low cost toys and "fluffy animals" to appeal to a wide audience.


How do you find a geocache ? - look at a geocaching web site

Web Site The most popular Geocaching web site for over 10 years is www.geocaching.com , run by Jeremy Irish and friends. Others since that time include www.navicache.com , run by Quinn Stone.

These sites include facilities for you to get a list of hidden caches in a particular area, then see the page of details describing a particular cache. i.e, it's location, description, and perhaps tips on other interesting places to visit while you are in the area. Simple means are provided for you to add your "log" after your visit. For those planting caches, facilities are provided to upload the cache information including pictures.

We understand that all these enterprises are even smaller in size and resources than Robin's small GPS Software business. However this may change rapidly if geocaching takes off worldwide, and the numbers of participants rise into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions. These pioneers are to be congratulated on what they have already achieved with skill, hard work and a significant part of their own spare time.

footnote in October 2012: above was written in 2001 :-) There are now two relatively new geocaching sites: www.opencaching.com and www.opencaching.org.uk.

Geocaches map

Where are the Geocaches hidden by Robin and June in 2001 ?

We recommend that you regularly visit all the geocaching sites above, checking what caches are listed in your area.

If you are west of London, UK, you may wish to visit the Lovelock Geocache page - but make sure you follow the links to the appropriate Navicache site page. See also www.brillig.com/geocaching


Geocaching History

Dave Ulmer in the USA hid a box of "treasure" (a "Geocache") and posted the exact position (in latitude longitude) on a web site - challenging someone to find it. By January 2001 there were about 300 caches worldwide, and this rapidly increased to over 10,000 geocaches, with the numbers growing at over 10% per month. Of the million people who own a GPS in the USA, still only 30,000 know about Geocaching. In the UK there are probably fewer than 100,000 people who own a GPS and a few hundred who know about Geocaching - but these numbers are expected to grow rapidly. As more people participate, there will be more caches to find.

Geocaching may be the hobby that makes millions of consumers buy a GPS - bringing prices down - and act as a boost to people getting "out into the country". Americans are already visiting UK to visit Geocaches located near tourist sites. Many businesses will benefit from this hobby, including Tourism and the good old English Pub :-)

Tony Wale and Robin Lovelock

This site has been set up by Tony Wale and Robin Lovelock. They are both newcomers to the hobby of geocaching, but they are most certainly not new to the field of GPS and navigation "on foot". They share the same enthusiasm and hopes for what this new hobby may become, and have decided to use a proportion of their time and resources to promote and perhaps influence how Geocaching takes off Worldwide. They have no need to profit from their activity, but are sufficiently experienced to know "how the real world works", including the need for geocaching web sites to be adequately funded and supported.

Robin Tony Wale introduced Orienteering as a training subject to The British Army, where he spent 17 years until 1972. He then joined Silva, the Swedish compass and navigation equipment manufacturer, and became the UK Managing Director - a post held until very recently. He has been active in the ancient and geocaching-like hobby of "letterboxing" for over 5 years. He is a fellow of the Royal Institution of Navigation and The Royal Geographic Society, and is an acknowledged expert within the UK on navigation "on foot" - frequently being asked to give presentations or submit articles on the subject. Tony lives in Ammanford, Wales and can be contacted on tel: +44 1269 850990 and email: tonywale@compuserve.com

Robin Robin Lovelock spent most of his working life in the defence business, cutting his teeth on military computers in the 1960's with Ferranti. He then worked for 10 years as a senior NATO scientist, followed by 13 years in senior management with EASAMS, the Systems House of GEC-Marconi in the field of Military Command & Control Systems. In 1990 he took a closer personal interest in the application of GPS and PC based software, and his GPS Software business has been a full time occupation since 1995. Robin lives and works from home in Sunninghill, England. Tel: +44 1344 620775. Email: gpss@compuserve.com

Guidelines for Geocachers

These are already pretty well covered on the Geocaching web sites, which provide practical advice on common-sense things like safety and not creating a nuisance to others, including land owners. Pages covering this topic include www.geocaching.com/about/ and www.navicache.com/planningcache.html

Here are some additional suggested guidelines for those planting caches:

Guidelines for Web Sites

These are less easy to find anywhere, and is one of the reasons for setting up this page. The existing three geocaching sites, most notably geocaching.com, have done an excellent job of supporting the hobby with an ever increasing range of simple to use and powerful aids. These include being able to quickly find caches near you, look at their details, track object (Travelbugs) between caches, and being able to easily add new caches.

However, it has yet to be seen if these web sites will cope if and when the general public discover geocaching, and the number of web site users increase a hundred-fold. The problems may not be technical ones, such as capacity and loading on the servers: in Robin's opinion these are more likely to be related to overload on those like Jeremy Irish who administer the web site, due to their current manual procedures.

e.g. All geocaching sites have a process to "approve" a cache, but there is rarely any process of establishing (privately) who the individual, uploading the data, is. The current sites are already vulnerable to mischief such as uploading or linking to pornography, blatant advertising, or simply "schoolboy mischief" such as describing caches that are not there. There is similar scope for "mischief" and libel on newsgroups - something which Robin has experienced and suffered from directly - see Robin & June's Caches :-)

In the past there have also been examples where people have claimed ownership (copyright) on terms such as "Geocaching", or implied that their copyright on their web site html and asp logic extended to the information that they were hosting. If anyone owns the information such as location and description of caches, or logs of visits to caches, it is the geocachers who entered this information. It could be argued that this is all or mostly Public Domain information anyway. The geocaching sites are also vulnerable to enthusiasts uploading information such as a nice picture scanned from a postcard, which breaks copyright.

Here is some "food for thought" for those with Geocaching sites:

This is very much a "first draft", and Robin will be grateful for feedback on this - particularly from those running the existing Geocaching sites who will already have an appreciation of the practical issues involved. He assumes the main issue for debate may be whether those logging cache visits should remain anonymous to the geocache site administrator, and under what conditions these details should be released to others such as landowners or police, or possibly made public to "shame" serious offenders.

It must be emphasised that the above are simply "ideas for discussion".

Geocaching on Worldwide Television

Did you see it ? BBC Television feature on Geocaching broadcast into 200 million homes. Geocache Page Robin shows Sevan a GPS... Poppy & Sam find the geocache... Tony Wale explains...

A television feature on Geocaching was broadcast into 200 million homes. Robin, Tony and friends helped BBC World make this "Click Online" TV feature. It was broadcast on worldwide TV networks nine times from 10th until 16th January 2002. You can read the "inside story" with pictures on the TVINRAIN page :-)

Useful Links

What is Geocaching ?, What does a Geocacher do ?, What's in a Geocache ?,
Where are the Geocaches ?, What's on a Geocaching Web Site ?, Geocaching History,
Tony Wale and Robin Lovelock, Guidelines for Geocachers, Guidelines for Web Sites, Footnote by Robin Geocaching sites : www.geocaching.com or www.navicache.com Cache locations on maps : www.brillig.com/geocaching

Footnote by Robin

I am enthusiastic about geocaching because it has enormous scope to popularise GPS to a much wider audience: this helps my GPS Software business. It is also great fun :-)

I'm a great believer in meeting people face-to-face, or at least speaking directly on the 'phone. It's often the quickest and most direct way to find out what's really going on behind the facade of a web site - not all are as "up front" about their owners as mine :-)

My most recent 'phone conversations were with Dave Ulmer, who started it all when he planted the first geocache in May 2000. He has some interesting ideas, including that sometimes the "place" is much more important than "what's in the box".

In September 2001 there were 'phone calls between myself Robin, Jeremy Irish and Bryan Roth who own and maintain the geocaching.com web site (Grounded Inc). Contact was also been made with Dan Foster, founder of TopoGrafix, the software company behind EasyGPS, ExpertGPS, and PanTerra. More recently there have been 'phone conversations with the owners of two other Geocaching web sites: Quinn Stone of navicache.com and Jeremy Hurst of a third site now closed down.

I understand that all these enterprises are even smaller in size and resources than my own small GPS Software business. However this may change rapidly if geocaching takes off worldwide, and the numbers of participants rise into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions. These pioneers are to be congratulated on what they have already achieved with skill, hard work and a significant part of their own spare time.

© Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill Systems. www.gpss.co.uk
Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill Systems, 22 Armitage Court, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks SL5 9TA, United Kingdom.

Footnote from Robin on 11th October 2015: Today we visited the "Leviathan" geocache near Esher, the second time - the first was in 2001 ! This must be the best cache in the UK - it still has that original 2001 log book with our visit report from then - Michelle, June and myself, could not believe it ! We read our 2001 entry in which Michelle said she's found the cache before me, then my words after her's, saying nobody liked a smart a*** :-) Thanks for planting this cache - just like the old days in 2001.

Levithan in 2015

It's great to see those log enties still there in the geocaching.com logs for Leviathan ...

Old Levithan Logs

- and here are those actual log book written entries ....... :-)

Old Levithan Logs

30th November 2015: We had to visit our first cache find: "The Queen's Oak". Our old log book entry was still there - from August 2001 ! We are stood where it was then :-)

The Queen's Oak

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