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A GLOBAL treasure-hunting game is the latest craze to hit Swindon.

GeoCaching is a challenge whose participants use orienteering skills to find coins, puzzles, toys and other items.

Navigational skills are used to hide and seek containers known as caches.

There are 14 different types of challenge, ranging from finding caches through standard co-ordinates to cracking cryptic puzzles to gather vital data.

The hider can leave treasure anywhere in the world, ranging from, say, the Amazon Rainforest to Swindon’s own Magic Roundabout if they wish.

A seeker can log on to their computer at home to obtain co-ordinates for their Global Positioning System before the hunt begins.

Enthusiast Sam Vaughan, 22, of Gartons Road, in Middleleaze, West Swindon, said: “This is a game for any age group from five to 95.

“It’s a contemporary version of the old pirate treasure map where X marks the spot.

“From locating the treasure on your computer to locating it in person via your GPS, it’s a fun way get out and about and explore areas that you may not have been to.”

There are currently 883,674 caches hidden all over the world, with about 400 of those waiting for discovery in Swindon.

Some of the caches contain Geo-Coins, which are specially manufactured for the game and have individual serial numbers.

Sam said: “If you find a coin you never know where it has been until you log it on the computer.

“While GeoCaching in Lydiard Park I found my first coin, which came from Staines in Berkshire. I also know of people whose coins have come all the way from the Bahamas and were found in Swindon.

“Each trackable item has its own mission set by the hider.

This could be anything from a toy dolphin seeing all the oceans to a Lego man visiting each area of Swindon.

“Trackables and coins are moved on once found to different cache sites.

This is after they are logged on the computer and accounted for, so people can monitor their progress.”

Sam advises those who are seeking treasure to be discreet, as people who are not in on the game could spoil missions for other GeoCachers by “Muggling.” This is a term used to describe non-GeoCachers.

GeoCaching is described as “using million dollar satellites to locate Tupperware pots.”

GeoCaching began in America in 2000 and has now spread round the world, attracting about half a million participants.

If you would like to take part or learn more, visit the website at www.geocaching.com.