The natural world and new technology are coming together to help people explore Kielder Water and Forest Park and learn about wildlife.
People visiting the Park can now get involved in a brand new geocaching project, taking them on a GPS-led treasure hunt around the area.
As part of the Heritage Lottery-funded Living Wild at Kielder project, four new wildlife-themed geocaches have been placed around the Park’s Wilder Walk route, which links some of the natural habitats and tranquil spaces between Kielder Castle and Bakethin Nature Reserve.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure-hunting game, played using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS co-ordinates and then attempt to find the geocache container hidden at the location.
Once there, they can find out why that location is so special. All of the spots have been selected by members of the Forestry Commission and Environment Agency teams, who chose some of their favourite sites. Despite the poor phone reception in the area, people can still take part by turning on the location function on their device, turning it into a GPS receiver.
Two trackable creatures, a red squirrel and a salmon, have been placed in the geocaches, with instructions for players on how they can help them achieve their mission of moving around the Park and beyond.
Living Wild at Kielder is a project that will help people experience and learn about the area’s special animals and plants through the development of nature hubs and a year-round events and activity programme.
It is delivered by Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission and the Environment Agency, with support from Newcastle University and Northumberland National Park Authority.
Lynn Turner, director of the development trust, said: “Geocaching is something brand new for the Trust and a great way to integrate technology with the natural world and really get people of all ages excited about exploring.
“We can’t wait to see how people get on, and how they can help our red squirrel trackable achieve its mission of visiting all the caches, and aiding the salmon in its migration up and down the Tyne.”