UK Challenge Caches – Everything you need to know!


15-08-2012: This blog entry is now a tad out of date. After I wrote it Geocache challenges went CRAZY! There are now hundreds more to find, but the bookmark list is up to date so you can find them all there! 🙂

Sometimes it’s not just about the “found” numbers on your Geocaching.com profile. There are other mini goals that cachers can work on to achieve and these are in the form of “Challenge Caches”. A challenge cache requires the cacher to meet a geocaching-related task(s) before they can log their find and it can also encompass Waymarking and Wherigo so they are really more “Groundspeak-related tasks”

There are a few rules that go along with the allowance of a challenge cache. The challenge must be realistic and attainable, a challenge shouldn’t be based on non-accomplishments (DNF’s) or on achievements that are based on the actions of other cachers (First to finds) and a challenge shouldn’t require you to find particular caches or be used to promote your own. Although not specifically listed in the Groundspeak Challenge rules I believe that you also aren’t allowed to have a challenge based on someone’s number of hides. e.g. Hide 100 caches before you can log this cache.

There are many around the UK, and loads around the world and personally I think they are a great idea so thought I’d take a look into the wide world of Challenge caches…

A map of UK Challenge caches

(Click the ? icons to display the cache pages for each)

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Free maps for your Garmin GPSr from Open Street Map


Since I purchased our Garmin GPSr I have always relied on the Garmin Great Britain TOPO maps to “show us the way”. This however, isn’t the only option for maps on our handheld GPSr’s. There is a free option – Open Street Map.

Map options

Garmins come with a worldwide basemap installed. It’s not very exciting though. Some sea, land, a few roads and rivers, etc. To start seeing contours, minor roads, footpaths and more detailed terrains then you need something else. There are a few options for UK cachers…

An example of the base map - No footpaths

There are the Garmin TOPO Great Britain maps. These show countours, roads, rivers, POI’s trig points, and some tracks and paths. They retail at £150. We’ve used these for about a year, and despite Garmin stating the data is provided by the Ordnance Survey not all footpaths are included, and in some cases there are footpaths included that we have walked over to only to be confronted by a gate that says “PRIVATE” on it. The maps are OK. I can’t say they are great.

The Garmin TOPO maps - Some footpaths, minor roads, forests, etc.

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Changing to UK date format on Geocaching.com


I think I may have missed the latest update to Geocaching.com having been in the Peaks when it happened, however when I got back I noticed that we had the ability to change the date format for our logs. This means that today (15th May) is no longer 05-15-2011, but 15-05-2011, or even 15-May-2011, depending on what you prefer. This may have existed before, however I didn’t notice so thought I’d share as there will be no “Caching Adventures” blog entry this week (I’m all blogged out! ;))

So, if from your Profile section you select ‘View your account details‘ then scroll down to ‘Your Preferences‘ you’ll see the ‘Date Format‘ option.

Date format in Your Preferences

Now from in here we have a drop-down box with a whole new range of date formats.

Quite a few date options now

And now we can log our finds with our chosen date format:

Logging with a different date format

Unfortunately the stats page ignores our date format preferences, but at least it’s updated in the logs.

Explore the outdoors: Part 2 – Waymarking


In part 1 of Explore the Outdoors I looked at Benchmarking and Trigpointing. In Part 2 I take a look at Waymarking.

What is Waymarking?

Waymarking is like benchmarking on crack! 😉 To access these waymarks you will need to visit the website at www.waymarking.com. As I write this there are 1000+ different categories for waymark types. The waymarks range from fast food restaurants and coffee shops, to types of signs and to benchmarks and trig points. As a Geocaching user, your username and password is also usable on the waymarking site meaning that you don’t have to fill in any additional forms.

There are millions of waymarks out there and some which I view as being a pretty pointless thing to want to collect. You can however build a favorite category list and an ignore category list. There is a ‘U.K. and Ireland Trigpoints’ category on there which holds over 3500 records, which looks like it is only a tiny amount as there are 13000 flush brackets alone in the UK Benchmarks database and 7642 trig points on trigpointinguk. After doing a search around my area it soon became clear that the number of benchmarks in waymarking is nowhere near that of the Benchmark UK database.

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GPX 1.0 vs GPX 1.0.1


I just imported a GPX file into GSAK and it told me something about using an old format of GPX file. Being your typical IT worker I didn’t read it, clicked don’t show me again and clicked “OK” (Something I do far too often without thinking!)

It then got me pondering about the GPX file formats. I’d read something about the different versions before, but not worried. Basically what it boils down to is two GPX verions:

GPX 1.0 which doesn’t include attributes and
GPX 1.0.1 which does include attributes.

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HOWTO: Loading Geocaches onto your Sat Nav as POI’s


On Saturday I went caching on my own and as a result I was both the navigator and the driver. Before driving to the next cache I studied my map carefully and memorised the junctions and turns I needed to make. I did however have to glance at the GPSr a couple of times (Which isn’t a safe thing to be doing) and I did make the wrong turn more than a couple of times! I thought there must be a better way to do it…

Most cheap sat nav’s support POI files and our Garmin Streetpilot C510 is no exception (My old Navman sat nav does as well) however some don’t accept .LOC or .GPX files which you get from the Geocaching.com site (And for the ones that do I should imagine you have to play around with Geocache GPX files to condense the information in them). It is however extremely simple to get your .GPX file to a .POI file and I was surprised to find out that .POI files are simply just .CSV files (Are you fed up of my TLA’s yet? ;))

So onto the nitty gritty. To get your Geocaches onto your sat nav…

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“Special” Caches


We all know about the usual traditional, multi, and unknown cache types, but what about the more special types of caches? Our 501 cache finds have all been either traditionals, multi’s or unknown caches. We’ve never enterred the realms of virtuals, earth caches, letter boxes, or webcam caches. However, I think I’m ready to take the dive.

I had a good idea of what each one was, but wasn’t confident to give them a go. To be honest, they sound a lot easier than normal caches as you don’t look suspicious hunting for a container. So for anyone who isn’t sure, here’s a quick rundown…

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