A GROUP of friends who got lost in Box mines last Thursday were astonished to discover that a jokey conversation with a fireman about looking for virtual Pokemon had made national news headlines.

Despite only heading down the mines in Hawthorn, near Corsham, to look at the cave, national media outlets including the BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph were all reporting that friends Tom Pascoe, Sam Pascoe, Tom Oswin and Garron Gumm got lost playing Pokemon Go.

Although reported as being teenagers, three of the four are in their twenties.

They swear they have never played the game and say they have been mercilessly ridiculed by friends and family members ever since.

The augmented reality treasure hunt Pokemon Go was launched in the UK last Thursday. Players hunt Pokémon on their smartphones, using the phone's camera to catch them.

Mr Oswin, 22, from Trowbridge, said: “Basically we just got lost and only managed to get hold of the fire brigade when we found a signal.

“A fireman started saying that we got lost using the game and we just thought that we would have a little laugh with him.

“How could we be looking for them in the cave when there was no signal down there?

“I could not believe it when it appeared in all the papers. People started messaging me but it was not that bad – it was all a bit of a laugh.”

The popularity of Pokemon Go has prompted a series of safety warnings but that does not seem to have deterred the game's many fans.

Josh Dowse, 14, from Devizes, said: “I have made lots of new friends at Pokéstops. I go out riding on my bike looking for hotspots.

“Rare ones can be found in places like churches and museums. I go out walking with my gran looking for Pokémon.”

The NSPCC has criticised the creators of Pokémon Go for not doing enough to ensure child safety.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "It is deeply troubling that the app’s owners have ignored many warning signals and well documented child safety concerns.

"It would have been better if they had taken time to reflect on these and put their young users first.

“Pokémon Go is setting a precedent as the most successful reality game app on the market.

"It is very disappointing that child safety is not at its heart.”

  • App creator Niantic said: "We take player safety seriously and want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while safely playing Pokemon Go.

"We encourage all people to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends or family, especially when you're exploring unfamiliar places.

"Please remember to be safe and alert at all times, don't drive and play, abide by local laws, and respect the locations you visit and people you meet during your exploration."

Pokémon Go can be downloaded from the Google Play store or Apple's App Store.