The actual process of geocache hunting is relatively simple. With Groundspeak's app, once you've chosen the geocache you wish to look for, you're presented with a map showing your current location and the location of the cache. You can use this to work your way round any obstacles until you're in the general vicinity of the treasure trove. Then, so long as you have an iPhone 3GS or 4, you can switch to the compass interface. This will show the distance and direction of the cache, but if you're in woodland the reading may not be entirely accurate. So at this point, you will need to engage more traditional treasure-hunting technology - your eyes, coupled with any assistance the geocache description may be able to give.
Using a more traditional hiking GPS will follow a similar routine, once the coordinates have been entered. If you have a device such as the Dakota 20 or Oregon 550t and OS maps installed, you can use these to navigate official trails to your destination. The geocache title at the top is also a button you can press to call up the description, which will be handy for hints and tips about how to find the geocache. Then, as with the smartphone app, switch to the compass view when nearby, which will give you a direction and distance. But your eyes and ingenuity will need to take you the final steps to the hiding place.
Geocaching is an addictive activity, and particularly rewarding as a way to convince your children that a walk in the country might actually be fun. With the increasing number of GPS-enabled smartphones, it's a hobby that looks set to become ever-more mainstream. Best of all, if you already own a smartphone or decent hiking GPS, you've got everything you need to get started straight away. So, why not grab one of those elusive days of decent English summer and give it a try?