"Oh no, not another 'About Us' page!" I can practically hear you screaming from here!
For once though, the 'story of us’ has played a huge part on defining who we are today. How and why (and when) we first set up Text Trails really influenced how we developed the concept, and has even influenced the questions and routes within our trails.
But just case you're new here let's take a step back and start with the basics...
What exactly is a Text Trail?
It's a treasure hunt, simple as that. But the twist is that all directions and clues are distributed by text message, and your answers are submitted by texting back.
Text Trails are based in village or town centres, and the route will take you on an exciting walking tour helping you to explore the area. The complexity and style of the clues in the treasure hunt vary, but they can be observational (meaning you have to hunt to find the object which is the answer), puzzle based (potentially a maths problem), or cryptic (where a little thinking outside the box is required)!
To solve them you'll need to be constantly on the look out as you're walking around, have your thinking cap on, and be up for a bit of fun! Hopefully taking part in a Text Trail will create appreciation for a place, and will help you discover new areas ... but more on what we hope they can do later.
Where did the idea for Text Trails come from?
It all started during summer 2020, in the height of Covid. Across the nation the humble local walk had been promoted to a grand routine which thousands took part in on a daily basis. During the monotony of being trapped in the house whilst WFH, our daily walk quickly became the highlight of our day getting us out of the house, enjoying fresh air, and appreciating our little local village. Lockdown forced us to explore the 5km radius of our house in a way that day to day life before hand (with its long commutes, stressful work meetings, and hustle and bustle) hadn't allowed. We discovered entire new parks, woods, and forests.
"We were suddenly slowing down enough to appreciate things we'd walked past a million times already"
As I'm sure was the case for you aswell, the excitement of a daily walk quickly dissipated. Where our conversations had previously been an excitable "shall we do the river route today, or the woodland route?" a few months ago, they had now become a glum "shall we take the second left or the third left side street?" Walking the same roads over and over again was starting to grate.
So to keep things interesting we'd ask each other "I-spy" style questions which forced us to really up our observation game. We were suddenly slowing down enough to notice and appreciate things which we'd walked passed a million times already. We were spotting dates on walls, historic blue plaques, interesting sign posts or ornate architecture. I think the peak moment was when I excitedly spotted "a pretty gutter cover" one day - but Matt drew the line at being excited by this!!
In late Autumn 2020 we went away for a short UK break and happened to spend a bit of time in the city of Norwich (lovely by the way - give it a visit if you're ever in the area) and found we were struggling to know what to do. Due to COVID a lot of the normally popular destinations were closed and we couldn't get into the tourist information centre.
We ended up making up our own route by combining some ad-hoc Google Maps and TripAdvisor research, and headed off on a poorly planned walking route around the city centre. What we saw of the city was beautiful, but as we left I couldn't help but wonder how much of Norwich we'd actually seen. It felt as if we needed a knowledgeable local who could point us in the direction of pretty buildings, or tell us which alleyways lead to historic landmarks, or where the bench with the inspirational quote was.
The birth of the humble Text Trail!
That winter we began to wonder how we could combine the two - was it possible to create some sort of excursion which would be good fun for both local residents and also tourists or visitors? Would we be able to create a walking trail which had a bit more fun and intrigue than a conventional "turn left, go down the path, turn right" set of walking instructions? And ideally in the world of Covid we needed whatever we came up with to be contact free.
The idea came to us out of nowhere, and as the country entered back into lockdown (meaning our movements were once again restricted to our hometown) that Christmas, we created our first route around Ware. Being honest during the monotony of lockdown it gave us something to do!!
Over time a couple of friends took part in the Text Trail, and we had such positive feedback that we decided to try and reach a bigger audience.
We ambitiously (and perhaps a little arrogantly) gave ourselves the prestigious name "Text Trails UK" - yep you read that right ... UK. We might be starting off in a small Hertfordshire Village which is only known for the famous ride of John Gilpin and for being the butt of all "where are you from?" "Ware" "Where?" jokes, but right from the off we set our goals high .... nationwide domination!! Needless to say it's a slow road, and so far we've only conquered a tiny fraction of Hertfordshire, but if you don't aim big you'll never get there!
The rest is history. At time of writing we have x4 routes live but we plan to add more towns and villages in the future, so the best way to see what's available at any point in time is to pop over to our listings page.
Our mission is simple: we want to help people discover new areas, notice interesting details, and have as much fun taking part in a Text Trail as we did creating it!
No matter where we started our hope is that this is just the start of something bigger and exciting!
Happy Hunting!! 🔎