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tried & tested

When there are so many places to choose from it's hard to know where to visit! In good or bad weather, with very young children or older teens, activity venues or quiet walks, every venue will offer something different with a variety of facilites available. We will add our thoughts on places that we have Tried & Tested so that you are well-informed before you make your decision to leave the house!

On the hunt around Harpenden

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Last week we had a go at the Harpenden Digital Treasure Hunt.  If you haven’t heard about this it’s a clue-based trail around Harpenden using your smartphone. It was kindly set up by local resident Peter Boswell and currently features 2 free routes covering 3 or 4 miles and a 5-mile route that costs £5.

To take part you’ll need a fairly up-to-date smartphone with an NFC reader in-built.  If you’re not sure if that’s your phone you can check here.  

The trail consists of finding small, round, white (I thought it looked grey but my children insist they are white!) chips hidden around town. Reading the chip with your phone will reveal the next clue via Instagram.

We thought we’d start off easy and try the 3-mile route which  starts at the entrance to Rothamsted Park. There are a number of factors that make these trails fun and interesting.  The first is obviously the technology, which immediately makes it ok with the kids!  The second is following the clue to the right place and the third is finding the discreetly hidden chip once you are there! 

If you are struggling to find the location of a chip there are two features to help. First is the “What 3 Words” reference included in the clue.  If you haven’t used this before it’s an app which has the whole of the world divided in 3m squares and each a square is assigned a unique 3-word reference - yes really!  It’s fun just downloading it to see what words are assigned to your house, and it’s also handy for getting a precise location in emergencies!

Once you are at the right location for the clue you need to look quite carefully to find the chip as it’s hidden away.  If you are still struggling you can send the What 3 Words reference as a Facebook message to the Harpenden Treasure Facebook account and the hiding place of the chip will be sent back.

We really enjoyed doing this trail and with a couple of weeks left of the holidays I’m definitely planning to take the children out to do another one. Our top tips are:

1. Trust the clues!  At one point we thought we had gone wrong, but the clue was so specific we knew had to be in the right place and with perseverance ... ok, I admit we did resort to FB messenger for that one ... we found the chip!

2. As mentioned at the start not all phones are compatible so check before you start that your smartphone does have an NFC reader. This guide should help you to find out if your phone will work.  ***UPDATE*** It is possible to take part without an NFC reader.  You'll need to use Facebook Messenger and start by sending "RETRO" (for the 3-mile route) or "RETRO2" (for the 4-mile route) to the Harpenden Treasure Facebook page 

3. We were using an iPhone and found you had to touch the chip with the top edge of the phone to get it to read.  It worked better with the case off and sometimes it took a few seconds or a couple of attempts to respond, so be patient.

4. Allow plenty of time, depending on how quickly you walk, and how easily you find the clues it can take longer than you think.

A lot of effort has gone into setting this up and it really is a simple, fun and cheap way to get everyone out and about, enjoying the local area and maybe even discovering some parts you haven’t come across before.

Sadly there was no pot of gold at the end, just the feeling of satisfaction that we’d completed it and spent a nice family afternoon together in the process.

For more information visit the Harpenden Treasure Facebook page where you’ll find the introductory videos to get you started.


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