Did you know there may be a treasure map to your town?

Daniel's daughters Bella and Jessica inspired him to set up Treasure Map Trails after playing games

Daniel's daughters Bella and Jessica inspired him to set up Treasure Map Trails after playing games at home in lockdown - Credit: Daniel Johnson

Meet Daniel Johnson who set up Treasure Map Trails in lockdown after being inspired by his children

Daniel Johnson with his new treasure maps

Daniel Johnson with his new treasure maps - Credit: Daniel Johnson

You’re creating treasure maps of Herts towns, sounds exciting, how does it work?

It was a lockdown idea. Like the rest of the country we were confined to our home. I was drawing treasure maps of the house as a game with my daughters. We had so much fun doing this indoors that I knew it would be great idea for when we were allowed out. I looked at different options for finding historical and unusual treasures in my hometown of Leighton Buzzard but couldn’t find anything that would appeal to my children, who are eight and five, so I thought I would create my own. My first map didn’t grab the interest of my kids, so we came up with the idea of turning the town into a fairy tale land. We had loads of fun coming up with different ideas, such as tomato terraces, cheese cottages and a lollipop forest. We created the map and gave out loads of copies, and the feedback was really positive, so I kept going. The ideas are getting wackier each time. We filled Tring with giant animals, Hemel’s Old Town with robots and aliens, had medieval mayhem in Berkhamsted, and we put St Albans on the seabed with mer-people and lots of weird fish. The idea is that every map is a work of art, so kids and their parents are always finding different things to grab their interest and make them smile.


You’re now doing places around the UK, why do you think the maps have taken off?

First and foremost, the maps cost less than a fiver and they’re a great excuse to get outdoors. Each adventure encourages people to see their own town in a new way, and they’re a reason to explore somewhere new. The maps get families working together. One mum described the experience as ‘team building for families,’ and another told us how they’d brought granddad along as he knew lots about the local history and really brought the adventure alive. Most towns are filled with interesting features that most of us simply don’t notice. The treasure maps encourage people to look up and down and discover their local town.


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What’s your background – not a pirate?

I worked in public relations for travel companies, so my business was hit by lockdown. The upside is that for the first time in years I found myself with space to pursue a new idea. I enjoy puzzles, I’m interested in history and I love being outdoors. The treasure maps combine all three of these. My kids think I’m the world’s most embarrassing dad when I’m in a town with them. I spend all my time looking up, stopping to take pictures in the strangest places and heading into alleys or around churches to see what I can find!


What’s next?

More maps. We aim to add a new map every week. It takes us a week to research, draw, design and write the content for each map, so this is a challenge, but we’ve had so much amazing feedback that we want to keep going as quickly as we can. The list of towns that people have asked us to cover is already taking us into 2022.


Head here for a list of maps.