International Earthcache Day 2016 – Box, Wiltshire
Article by Emma Evans
Monday was International Earthcache Day designed to promote these interesting and educational caches which are often ignored either in favour of the satisfaction of finding a physical geocache or because they can seem intimidating particularly to geocachers with no prior geological knowledge. I visited Box just outside Bath where two very different Earthcaches are in relatively close proximity.
The first was GC4RM5T – Box Rock Circus at Box Recreation Ground, an educational exhibit set up in conjunction with The Geologists Association and funded by a number of local bodies. The full list of contributors can be found at Box Rock Circus. The Circus consists of an obelisk of Bath Stone quarried locally, four quarry blocks from around the UK illustrating Britain’s plate tectonic movement over geological time and two blocks of various materials, one sedimentary and one crystalline (igneous and metamorphic). The mixed blocks are designed with children in mind and although they are primarily for teaching purposes they are also designed for climbing on.
Within the circle of blocks there is a trail of dinosaur footprints carefully spaced to represent the size and gait of the animals while the circumference represents geological time since the formation of the Earth. There is also a useful information board.
To log a find at this geocache you are required to answer fourteen quite varied questions. Some of the answers are easily obtained from the information board and exhibits, some require a bit of extra research on the website and the rest require some thought and interpretation. All in all it is exactly what an Earthcache should be, interesting and informative and impossible to log without some thought.
The second Earthcache of the day was GC16PVH – Box Quarry (Cotswold Stone), Wiltshire. The cache is located at one of the many entrances to the Box Quarries, a fifteen mile complex of tunnels created by the quarrying of stone to build the world heritage site of Bath. Unfortunately a rockfall just inside the entrance has now obscured any view of the inside of the tunnels.
There is a lot of information on the cache page here describing the geology and the history of the area but the requirements for a find are minimal. To log the cache you need to take a photo to prove you were physically there as well as estimating the size of the entrance. This is the very easy end of Earthcaching. There is plenty of information provided and the cache owner has clearly done their homework but it’s very easy to log a find without actually learning anything about the geology. Its main purpose is to bring people to an interesting and geologically significant site and hopefully spark some interest in learning more.
These caches represent the extremes of the Earthcache spectrum and both have their place. The first is an excellent teaching resource presenting geological information in an easily digestible form. The second would be easy to write off as too simple and requiring no geological knowledge but perhaps it should be considered an entry level Earthcache. The information is there for anyone who reads the cache description and importantly it is not intimidating to a geocacher with no prior geological knowledge.