Tracking treasure at Wentworth Castle Gardens

Barnsley Museum’s Programme Development Manager, Janette Robinson shares the treasure hunting adventure that is geocaching. This blog celebrates the dedication, enthusiasm and imagination of volunteers in their creation of brand new geocaching trails across the deer park and historic gardens of Wentworth Castle Gardens.

Geocaching expert and enthusiast Tony Betts is a longstanding National Trust volunteer, so when the idea of a new trail at Wentworth Castle Gardens was mooted, he leapt at the opportunity to get involved.

The gardens are the only Grade-I listed gardens in South Yorkshire. They were created in the 18th century by the Earls of Strafford as a symbol of wealth and status, and as part of an intense rivalry with their cousins at Wentworth Woodhouse.

Wentworth Castle Gardens is now run as a unique partnership between Northern College, National Trust and Barnsley Museums, with a particular focus on reaching new audiences and encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to visit and enjoy nature and being outdoors.

alt="Stainborough Castle, round narrow tower with curving stone wall surrounded by trees"
Stainborough Castle Folly at Wentworth Castle Gardens

Tony, supported by his wife Pauline, designed the geocache trails with this in mind, considering the needs and interests of local families and of Northern College students, many of whom live on site during their studies.

Geocaching is the anytime, anywhere adventure where players (called geocachers) enjoy something between orienteering and a treasure hunt. All over the world items have been hidden for others to find using a handheld GPS receiver or a smartphone.  

 The geocaches are linked to the official geocache app / website and they encourage families and adults to spend time outside in the fresh air, where they can have fun, play and learn together.  

alt="four children searching for geocache underneath large tree with castle ruins behind"
Children searching for a geocache at Wentworth Castle Gardens

In all, Tony mapped out 32 caches at the gardens, but he didn’t stop there. He has mentored fellow volunteer Martha Hayward to create the geocaching trail across the deer park, and trained the Visitor Reception team to teach visitors how to use and update GPS handsets. These will be free to borrow for those who do not wish to download the Geocache App. Martha is now creating her own geocaches across Yorkshire.

The launch of the trail has been delayed due to coronavirus, but when it is safe to launch it Tony will train other volunteers to deliver free workshops to teach first-time geocachers how to navigate GPS, read maps and understand geocaching.

Not only will the new trails encourage more people to enjoy what Wentworth Castle Gardens has to offer but, with Tony’s help, we hope they will be inspired to explore geocaching trails elsewhere too.

alt="man in outdoor clothes with hat holding geocache equipment"
Tony Betts, National Trust volunteer, with geocaching equipment

I really felt part of the team at Wentworth.  Staff and volunteers were very keen to see caching go live, and I received lots of help.  Whenever and Pauline and I came to the property we were welcomed, and people asked about the progress. We are looking forward to the trails re-opening… I am sure Martha and I will make a great team. Pauline and I have found the experience at Wentworth very positive.

Tony Betts, National Trust volunteer
To find out more about Wentworth Castle Gardens, including information on when you can visit, please visit their website. Please note, the gardens are currently closed to the public due to coronavirus.

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