It's the latest hi-tech hobby - and it's getting people into the great outdoors. RICHARD NICHOLLS, of Denby Dale describes the growing sport of geocaching - and explains why the the moors above Huddersfield have become a hot spot for the very latest in hunting for hidden treasure
GO walking on the moors above Langsett, a beautiful, windswept part of the Peak District about 15 miles from Huddersfield, on any weekend and you will see people striding out holding what looks like a mobile telephone in front of them.
Sometimes you will come across groups or couples walking round in circles, looking at the ground and muttering.
Are these members of some weird sect? No, they are participants in the increasingly popular sport of geocaching.
A cross between rambling and a treasure hunt this sport originated in the USA and is growing in popularity over here.
The object of the exercise is to find a "cache" - usually an old ammunition box or Tupperware container - by using a hand-held GPS (Global Positioning System) unit.
The co-ordinates of the cache are published on the internet at www.geocaching.com and the participant then uses these co-ordinates in their GPS to locate the cache.
Once found, there is usually a log book for you to record your visit, together with some nick-nacks to take as a souvenir.
The golden rule is - "take something – leave something".
With 355,617 active caches worldwide, it should give people many happy hours tracking them all down.
While this sport is great fun for its own sake, and many families are taking it up to get reluctant children out in the fresh air (what better reason than to find "buried treasure"?), there is also a good cause behind it as well.
The sport is now advocating that participants take a bag with them to collect any litter along the way.
Called "Cache In - Trash Out", this is a world-wide initiative aimed at benefiting the larger community.
With a dedicated day in the year - April 14 this year - Cache In - Trash Out Day is an opportunity for geocachers to help clean up the parks and other cache-friendly places throughout the world.
Visit www.cacheintrashout.org to find out more about this worthwhile cause.
With over 20 caches hidden within four miles of the splendid Waggon and Horses pub at Langsett, what better excuse do you need to get out and enjoy the fresh air?
My partner and I, together with two enthusiastic border collies did just that the other weekend.
Starting at the car park above the pub, we did a bracing four mile walk, taking in the isolated and ruined North America Farm for the first "cache".
The second "cache" of the day was found in the beautiful woodland to the north of Langsett reservoir, on the way back to the car.
Marvellous fun! We got some good, bracing fresh air, the dogs had a great time, and we had the bonus of finding "treasure" on the way.
Finished off with a pint of excellent Farmers bitter and the renowned steak pot pie, what better day could you have?
It certainly caught our imagination, and we are now busy planning our next geocaching session. With hundreds of caches hidden, all over the Huddersfield area, you don't have to travel far to get some fresh air and fun.
Try it – you never know, you might enjoy it!