Stow archivist taps into geocaching craze

Wendy Ball of Stow who has developed a 'Geocache' treasure hunt game around the village.
Wendy Ball of Stow who has developed a 'Geocache' treasure hunt game around the village.

The global craze of geocaching has been used to create an innovative line in heritage tours in the Stow area as part of a new business project.

Locus Focus is the brainchild of Stow resident and archiving expert Wendy Ball.

It involves marrying the traditional treasure hunt idea to a geocache series, with the ‘treasure’ being historical information about a specific place.

Once located, there is a puzzle to solve and a prize to claim, which is also helping to promote local businesses, as well as historical information about the site of interest.

And people have a choice of how to go on the hunt. They can either use the traditional printed treasure map which can be downloaded from the Locus Focus website, or they can go geocaching.

Geocaching is the use of a GPS (global positioning service)-enabled device, such as a smart phone, allowing participants to navigate to a specific set of GPS co-ordinates and attempt to find the geocache.

This can take the form of a tiny capsule containing a scrap of paper or a much larger container of various items and once found, the finder logs details online. Wendy is “piggy-backing” on the geocache idea, except the items contained in the containers she has hidden around Stow contain historical data and images.

Wendy told The Southern this week: “I started Locus Focus because I’m obsessed with getting high-quality digital information into the physical landscape.

“I’m also equally obsessed about ensuring the high-quality content gathered is stored for the long-term in a publicly-accessible archive.

“My motivation is to enhance people’s sense of a place,” she added.

Involved with the Borders Memory Bank until it ended in 2002, Wendy has since worked on archive, library and education projects, and last year was involved in a ground-breaking digital project at Wooplaw Community Woodland.