Flanders Moss NNR
Peggy Edwards has been geocaching for a while and writes below about what it actually is, why people do it and why it is leading people to discover Flanders Moss NNR.
“Over the years I’ve been so impressed with the incredible work done in restoring the bog and with the improvements made in interpretation and access to the bog; the raised boardwalk, the viewing tower, the parking area upgrade and the new benches!
About the same time I first visited the bog, a friend, David Sibbald, and I discovered the recreational activity of geocaching. What is geocaching? In the year 2000 Selective Availability was removed from the Global Positioning System. A man from Oregon, Dave Ulmer, decided to test this and hid a bucket near Beavercreek. His friends found it and geocaching began!
To participate in finding or placing a cache, a “cacher” must join geocaching.com (www.geocaching.com) after which they can download cache coordinates onto a GPS (or use a smartphone geocaching app) and the hunt begins! Caches range from large (the original caches were green ammo boxes) to the tiny magnetic 10mm “nano” caches frequently used in cities. Rules have been established to minimize impact and promote goodwill; events take place regularly, both social and CITO clean up days.
Over the years the activity has grown to be worldwide, extending from Mt Everest to the Antarctic. The highest cache in Scotland is on Ben Nevis, the furthest north at Norwick, Shetland, and the furthest west an Earth Cache at Rockall. Cachers frequently say they would never have known about – even local – places if not for being involved.
Several years ago David and I had placed a geocache under the bench on the old slate walkway on Flanders Moss. We posted the cache and its coordinates along with information about Flanders Moss on the geocaching website that brought in and educated over 100 visitors to the moss over an eight year period. Last year the cache had to be “disabled” due to the path sinking into the bog!
This summer with the help and advice of David Pickett, we have placed another cache at Flanders Moss, but I won’t tell you where – you’ll have to join geocaching to find out!
Additionally we have posted what is known as an Earth cache up in Thornhill overlooking the carse and Flanders Moss. An Earth cache has no physical container; instead the cacher must answer a series of geological questions in order to claim the “find.” An example question for the Flanders Moss Earth Cache is, “In your opinion should “peat” be classed as a fossil fuel or a biofuel. At what point does would you say it transforms from an organic soil into what we would call a rock? In other words where does peat end and lignite begin? Has any of the peat in Flanders Moss, especially along the lower margins of the raised bog, reached this point?”
In addition to regular and Earth caches, cachers can also search for multi-stage caches, puzzle caches, and virtual caches. Non-cachers are known as ‘muggles’, people who frequently wonder what you are doing when you are down on your knees looking under rocks; and when a cache disappears it has been ‘muggled’. Children enjoy the trading aspect of caching; if you find a larger cache with trinkets in it, you may take one out, but must replace it in kind. Kids also enjoy launching ‘travel bugs’ dog-tagged key-chain sized toys sent on missions from cache to cache. One year I had a sheep travel bug make it to Stirling from San Francisco over the course of several months.
One warning though: once you start caching, you will most likely become hooked! But if the activity brings you to places like Flanders Moss, it is worth every hour spent!”
All photos and text by Peggy Edwards Sept 2017