With secretly selfish motives, I recently started a puzzle hunt group in Manchester. I really enjoy creative problem solving, having to find solutions or research answers but there isn’t a lot of opportunity to do that recreationally (apart from over-priced escape
rooms). So, I started a meetup group which has 90 members less than a month later! I designed and ran the first puzzle hunt yesterday, but I am hoping other group members will volunteer to run their own too – and thus my evil plan comes to fruition. Really, I am just hoping that I will get to go on some hunts since I find them so fun. That said, it was really enjoyable and interesting to run one too.
Despite some high winds and the total lack of a sun that has been present all week, the
event was a success. I met the participants in a pub in Manchester city centre, and handed out their starter packs, which contained a disclaimer, the first two clues and a transparency to be used in later in the hunt. They split into three groups and headed out in to town. I designed all my clues from scratch rather than just lifting ones from the internet, and they spanned physical locations, public buildings, paper clues deftly hidden from the public, and password protected web pages.
I settled into the Walkers Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs, but I wasn’t reading for long. I always knew there was a risk of the hunt being too hard, too easy or just not making sense to other people, after all, everybody’s brain works differently. And I soon had to find the teams to offer a little advice. I spent the day shadowing different teams or charging my phone in coffee shops so I could stay in contact with the participants. Only one clue proved too hard for anyone to do on their own, but for a first attempt we all agreed that was quite good going. It was a great learning experience for running other hunts and events in the future.
I collected any clues left around town because I think it’s important to be respectful when co-opting public spaces. Then most of us went for a drink afterwards, and everyone seemed to have genuinely enjoyed themselves. Here’s a little taster from the hunt:
Clue 1. A modern giant watches over Manchester. He used to sing but now is silenced. From the clouds, he surveys a traveller’s route, a great hall, and the house of alchemy and creation. You’ll find what you seek at his feet.
One member, Aiden, has volunteered to create the next hunt, so hopefully I’ll be the one fumbling around town a month from now!