Hidden treasure in the Bathgate Hills!

Drew McAdam pic, Gazette columnist
Drew McAdam pic, Gazette columnist

There’s treasure everywhere. And what better fun than a treasure hunt?

What’s more, taking part costs little, and it is guaranteed to keep the kids occupied for hours during the long summer school break.

Believe it or not, there are over 300 hoards hidden within a 10 mile radius of Bathgate town centre. And they are all there waiting for you and the kids to find.

It all started in May 2000.

An American went into a wood where he hid a bucket that contained some trinkets, and posted the co-ordinates online.

Using a common Sat Nav, several individuals set off in search of it.

Those who found it would sign the logbook, take an item and leave another in its place.

A whole industry was born.

Today, these hidden treasures are called “geocaches” and there are almost two million of them hidden around the globe in over 100 countries.

Which means – and I can guarantee this – there are several near where you live.

On hearing about this, I decided to investigate. (It’s dead easy; you just register at geocaching.com, and bring up a map of your area with all the caches marked on it).

I was amazed to discover there was one right outside the West Calder library, where I was sitting!

Taking things a bit further, I noted the co-ordinates of half a dozen caches hidden in Almondell Country Park and set off with my Sat Nav in my hand.

It led to a day of scrambling up inside hollow trees, delving into bushes and peering under bridges for the containers that were often cleverly disguised as something else – one was a little ceramic gnome peeking out from the roots of a tree.

Another I found was a hollowed-out rock!

That was me; hooked.

I was astonished that there were hundreds of these things hidden throughout West Lothian and yet few people have heard anything of it.

And what a fantastic activity for the kids!

There’s no place for boredom when the youngsters are hunting for a cache and swapping trinkets and toys once they’ve found it.

So, if you’re looking for a holiday activity that will enthrall the kids and tire them out – yet costs next to nothing - you may just have found it!