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Geocaching & orienteering

Children at map reading workshopChildren at map reading workshop

If you like maps, GPS devices, and adventure, running, walking or cycling across varied terrain, then orienteering or geocaching are fun experiences for all the family. 

Get into geocaching

Combine outdoor adventure with the excitement of a high-tech treasure hunt, kids love it! Grab a handheld GPS device, an Ordnance Survey map and begin your journey into the countryside to track down hidden caches.

Each hidden box (and some are very hard to find) usually has a logbook to record your visit, and often some kind of small 'trade items' left by previous explorers. Take something, leave something, that's the rule. Back home, log your find and share your experiences on the official geocaching site.

To look for caches, sign-up to (which is free) a handheld GPS receiver. Once you've signed in, search for any location, the quickest way is to enter a postcode, you'll then find coordinates and clues for your nearest caches. Decide which ones you want to bag, download or enter the co-ordinates manually into your GPS receiver, check out the location on an up-to-date Ordnance Survey map, then set out to find them.

There are hundreds hidden around the North York Moors many taking you to places you didn't know exist. 

Please be aware that some of the routes to the caches may be quite strenuous and you need to ensure you’re wearing the right clothing and footwear for the weather and the terrain.

We also run a series of geocaching events throughout the spring and summer where you can use one of our GPS units. These are run with the National Trust and the Cleveland Way National Trail at stunning locations, including Robin Hood's Bay, Ravenscar, Sutton Bank and Hayburn Wyke. Check out our Events listings for further details. Find out about National Trail geocoins as well.

TFTC (thanks for the cache)!

Geocache Arts Trail  

Combine a love of art and the outdoors and have a go at our Geocache Arts Trail in Sandsend. Explore the North York Moors coast, whilst making your own creative keepsake to take home with you.

We commissioned six artists to produce linocut stamps representative of the coast. These beautiful images include: a seagull (Lyn Bailey), a puffin (Sally Parkin), North Yorkshire Moors Railway train (Wendy Tate), a fish (Bridget Wilkinson), Whitby Abbey (Michael Atkin) and an ammonite (Rob Moore). You’ll find them hidden in separate geocaches along a two mile stretch of the Cleveland Way National Trail.  

To take part, all you need to do is:

Geocache Arts Trail

1. Pick up a trail booklet from one of the participating shops and cafés. You will need one of these to record the stamps. Collect one from: 

  • Sandside Café (daily 9am-4:15pm)*
  • Wild Hart - gift shop
  • Serendipity - gift shop (closed in January)
  • Tides Café (weekdays 10am-4pm and weekends 9.30am-4pm)*
  • Sandsend Stores (everyday until 4pm, 3.30pm in January and February)*
  • Wits End Café (Wed to Sun, 10am-4pm)*
  • Lythe Community Shop and Café (Mon to Fri 8am-5.30pm. Closes at 2pm on Sat)*

* Check beforehand for reduced opening hours in winter

2. Take a seat. Have a cuppa and download the app on your mobile. You will need to enter this postcode: YO21 3SU (which is Sandsend car park at Lythe Bank), into the search facility. It will then show the nearest geocaches. This is a FREE geocache so no need to upgrade to see them. Each geocache is called Geocache Arts Trail and has a number from one to six.

3. If you are a geocaching aficionado and you have a geocache device, you will find clues and coordinates here:

  • Geocache Arts Trail #1 (N 54° 30.422 W 000° 40.528)
    Travel along the Cleveland Way. Find a stream to your right. Look closely for tree roots to your left.
  • Geocache Arts Trail #2 (N 54° 30.546 W 000° 40.480)
    Look for heather and rocks just a little off the Cleveland Way. You may find a geocache and rock sandwich!
  • Geocache Arts Trail #3 (N 54° 30.647 W 000° 40.528)
    Follow the track off the trail and travel up the steps. Look for trees and a post!
  • Geocache Arts Trail #4 (N 54° 30.709 W 000° 40.555)
    Following the trail from Sandsend with the moonscape in view to your right, you'll come to the first disused quarry on your left. Walk to the first post on your left and take the steps down. Follow the path up a small incline and continue until you get to the second post. Look for the rough path to your right leading you towards gorse bushes. Carry on to the clearing in the gorse and travel to the end of the bank. Beware of prickles!
  • Geocache Arts Trail #5 (N 54° 30.860 W 000° 40.727)
    Head off the trail to your right and up towards the ‘Matterhorn’. Look for hawthorn bushes to your left!
  • Geocache Arts Trail #6 (N 54° 30.726 W 000° 40.767)
    Travel back along the Cleveland Way towards Sandsend. Look out for the first quarry on your right and continue until you see a 'trail' sign on your right. Turn off as directed, follow the steps down. BE WARNED THIS SECTION CAN BE SLIPPERY WHEN WET. Walk along the path over the boardwalk. Continue to follow this path up the steps and onto a raised heath in the middle of the quarry. Travelling off piste along the top, make your way around the heather in the centre as best you can. Look for the tree at the end of the bank and something a little more prickly to the left of it! NOTE - you don't need to travel down the bank to find the cache!

4. Head to the steps in the corner of Sandsend car park and make your way onto the Cleveland Way National Trail. The geocaches are located along here and two are just off the trail. Match the linocut with the correct page and stamp the image. Make sure you cover the image with lots of ink before stamping!

5. Most importantly have fun. Once the booklet is complete, take this with you as a souvenir of your visit.

Please make sure you wear good sturdy footwear and the right clothing for the weather and the terrain.

Orienteering and navigation

The moorland of the North York Moors is the perfect place to hone your compass skills; it's also a great place to have a go at orienteering, whether it's a dash around one of the permanent orienteering courses using just a map and compass or entering one of the many events. Either way, they're fantastic ways to explore more of the countryside.

If you've not tried orienteering before, the idea is to navigate in sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time. Several activity companies will show you the basics and many of them provide navigation and map reading training too. We also run compass skills days, see our Events Listings for dates. 

Eborienteers is an active orienteering group running events throughout the year in the North Yorkshire area. Their White Rose Orienteering Weekend is one of the most popular orienteering events around, with four days of orienteering races and other activities as well.

Cleveland Orienteering Klub runs events in the Cleveland area

You'll also find permanent orienteering courses at Guisborough Forest and Walkway, Dalby Forest, Spiers House and Keldy Forest. Maps are available from the two visitor centres at Guisborough and Dalby Forest.

If you'd rather have a crack at orienteering on a mountain bike, North Yorkshire Mountain Bike Orienteers organise an annual calendar of events, including the Annual Moors Marathon. This has four fixed routes (100/75/50/25km) on bridleways/minor roads with a commemorative mug if you complete the route in 10/8/6/4 hours respectively.