What treasures lie beneath our feet? Andrew Robinson joined Huddersfield-based Team of Yorkshire Metal Detecting Group to find out.

It's only 10am and already we have pulled out a big handful of ring pulls, bottle tops and squashed drinks cans.

The pile of metal rubbish grows as the back-breaking digging continues.

"Metal detecting is 99 per cent about finding trash and one per cent is treasure," says experienced searcher Marek Walat, a club member who lives in Moldgreen.

He got his first detector at the age of seven in his native Poland but gave up straight away as he found it tough going.

After settling in Huddersfield, Marek got a £280 Fisher F44 machine but soon discovered that detecting as an adult wasn't much easier.

Marek Walat
Marek Walat

Many landowners do not want detectorists on their land, so gaining permission is very difficult, he says.

But they are a determined bunch and today the group has secured permission to search a field near Buxton in Derbyshire, a 70-minute drive from Huddersfield.

The journey takes us over Holme Moss and through beautiful scenery to a roadside car park where a waiting group of metal detectorists are chatting, most of them dressed in Army fatigues.

Marek is equipped with a £100 'pin-pointer' gadget, his trusty mid-priced Fisher machine, some gloves and a spade. He has a belt bag for all the rubbish he unearths.

Group members have already been chatting about the proximity of Roman roads and there's an old pub nearby, so there's a heightened sense of anticipation among the group, some of whom have driven up from Shropshire.

The pile of rubbish grows as the hunt for treasure continues
The pile of rubbish grows as the hunt for treasure continues

But the growing pile of rusty tent pegs and alcohol-related detritus points to recent camping activity rather than Roman legions.

"You have to be patient," says Marek.

"This is a hobby that is so easy to give up. People are thinking of finding treasure but the reality is that they are often digging up trash."

Harry, four, giving Marek Walat a helping hand
Harry, four, giving Marek Walat a helping hand

In five years of searching, he has found many coins, but only a handful of them have value. At home he has a huge pile of old pennies, mostly found around Huddersfield, which weigh in at about three kilos.

"I have found 10 silver coins which are maybe worth £10 to £15."

For him, the enjoyment is to be found in learning about the past.

"The most exciting thing about it is the history and how certain things end up in certain places. For instance, I have found Australian, French, Dutch and German coins from the 1940s in Huddersfield."

He adds: "When I came to this country, I didn't know about all these kings and queens. Whenever I find something, I want to research it and learn the history. Some items have no value but it's still exciting."

Metal detector enthusiasts from Huddersfield, and elsewhere, gathering near Buxton
Metal detector enthusiasts from Huddersfield, and elsewhere, gathering near Buxton

There's an undeniable thrill as a detector suddenly "beeps" the presence of metal.

Apart from the pile of trash, there's a decent haul of modern coins. In the first 20 minutes Marek finds two five pence pieces and a £1 coin.

He gives them to my son Harry, four, who is thrilled.

American coins unearthed near Buxton
American coins unearthed near Buxton

Not everyone finds it so exciting.

Marek's wife rarely joins him on the treasure hunts as she finds it boring.

"She says there's no adrenaline with metal detecting. She walks up mountains and says that is about the adrenaline. I tell her that I might one day dig up a grenade and that I can lose my life. She told me I couldn't go again."

The group - which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this month - spreads out across the field and there are several finds. A woman searcher shrieks "Fifty pence! Bravo" and everyone laughs when someone pulls out a bottle top from a Polish beer.

Some of the coins - mainly modern - found near Buxton
Some of the coins - mainly modern - found near Buxton

One lucky searcher hauls out a purse containing six one penny coins, three bearing the head of George V and the rest Victorian.

But bottle tops are turning up in their dozens.

"A bottle top and a coin are of a similar size and they give out a similar sound on a metal detector. We find a lot of modern coins and bottle tops," says Marek.

"This is a good field and a bad field," he adds. "There's lots of trash and lots of modern coins. And old tentpegs."

A handful of finds unearthed from a field near Buxton
A handful of finds unearthed from a field near Buxton

Fellow club member Pawel Gotowiec is a bit disappointed by his own finds.

He has found about £6 in modern coins and four American cents but nothing with any age to it.

"I am hoping for a chance of jewellery or artefacts. There's always a chance when you find modern coins. We chose this field because there has been Roman mining nearby and two local roads are Roman. And the pub has been here about 500 years."

Marek Walat (left) and Marek Zacharko with one of the detectors
Marek Walat (left) and Marek Zacharko with one of the detectors

During lunch, son Harry tells me that he enjoys metal detecting and wants to stay for longer. He says he likes "finding the money".

There are other children at the dig and they all seem to be having fun by crowding round whenever digging starts.

There's no doubt that there is renewed interest in the hobby, some of it prompted by the recent BBC4 comedy Detectorists which starred Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones as two eccentric metal detecting enthusiasts.

Marek is aware of the programme but says he doesn't watch TV as "memories are not made" watching telly.

READ MORE: Finders keepers! Treasure-hunters unearthed some historical gems in Kirklees last year

READ MORE: What treasures have you found?

Soon after our chat, Marek has a lucky break, unearthing three Victorian coins dating back to the 1880s.

He's pleased but says that metal detecting is not just about finding treasure.

"Even if I don't find anything, I have a good time with friends," he says.

"I like meeting friends and having fresh air and exercise. I have a desk job (he works in Clayton West) and I sit down all day and I don't have time to go to the gym. This is the only chance I have to get some exercise."

Yorkshire Metal Detecting Group members, Marek Walat (left) and Marek Zacharko with some of their finds
Yorkshire Metal Detecting Group members, Marek Walat (left) and Marek Zacharko with some of their finds

Eventually it is my turn to have a go. I find the hard ground difficult to shift and the first three finds are, inevitably, old bottle tops.

But then something golden sparkles in the sunlight as I heave out a clog of earth. It's only a 20 cent euro coin but it's my first proper find and I am thrilled.

On the long drive home, Harry tells me that metal detecting is "brilliant".

He falls asleep clutching his four-coin hoard as I daydream about our next treasure hunt.

Marek Walat's top five finds

Penny coin from 1897

"This was on my fifth metal detecting trip and before that I always found modern coins."

Child's ring with a heart

"First I thought that it's silver and gold - something that I will have to report to the coroner, something with a great history. Unfortunately I checked it in jeweller shop and it turns out that it's modern and not gold but copper. Anyway I keep this ring as it now has a sentimental value to me."

A purse containing George V and Victorian pennies, found near Buxton

Ring bearing a lion's face

"Once again I was hoping that this will be something big, but after I cleaned it, it turns out that it has a modern hallmark."

Silver coins

"Every single silver coin that I found gave me a massive buzz. I have a few silver sixpences and a few shillings - nothing valuable but at the end of the day it's a precious metal with a bit of history and it's been waiting for me in the ground for over 100 years. My oldest coin is a silver shilling from 1839.

Mystery bag

"The biggest ever find that made me feel like Indiana Jones wasn't found during metal detecting but during 'fishing' for metal with a magnet in a canal.

"I found a bag with a brick inside and lots of documents. I treat it as the biggest find because I could trace an owner and discover a whole history behind the find. I felt quite proud of myself that I was able to help someone. I know that it sounds a bit selfish but I think everyone sometimes likes to feel like a valuable member of the society."

One of their finds: a tiny hand stamped Celtic coin.
One of their finds: a tiny hand stamped Celtic coin.

Factfile

Metal detecting enthusiasts are bound by the Treasure Act 1996 which legally obliges finders of certain items deemed as 'treasure' to report their find to their local coroner within 14 days.

'Treasure' is a legal term which has a detailed definition; it includes objects over 300 years old with precious metal content.

Once the find is reported, an inquest is held by the coroner to determine if it is treasure. If it is deemed treasure, the find must be offered for sale to a museum at a price set by an independent board of experts.

If sold, the proceeds are often split 50-50 between the landowner and the finder.