Three Points of the Way recently wrote about a short backpacking trip of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. Part of my strategy was to be largely self-sufficient with food. I look at the rough plan for this here, with a little further mention on how it panned out.
Depending on where you start or finish and what alternative spur or side trail is included, the Yorkshire Wolds Way is round eighty miles in length. The Wolds Way is not a particularly long trail and need not take more than 4-6 days to complete. I walked it in summer 2021 and in Covid times, not only was I unsure of how food provision on the Yorkshire Wolds Way would be, with businesses closed or struggling to reopen, but I also wanted to minimise mixing with people a little, just for a while longer…
My intention was to walk the trail over four days, as it was I knocked off a few miles in the afternoon that I arrived in Hessle. I had decided to carry four full days of food on the Yorkshire Wolds Way plus a couple of extras- 12 or so meals in all. If it was required, I could be completely independent of resupply, other than water.
This is not an overly complicated choice of food. I kept it very simple and gave myself a lot to eat. Everything is calorie dense, or at least tasty. Four breakfasts, four lunches, four evening meals, plus plenty of makings for hot drinks. Also some trail snacks and treats. I didn’t calculate daily calorific values, fats/protein/carb balance or get hung up on anything else. That said, it doesn’t vary much from anything I would possibly include on a longer trail.
I don’t handle breakfast well on trail. I seldom fancy it much on waking and can feel a little queasy if trying to force it down. Sometimes I’m alright, but often prefer to stop for breakfast after a couple of hours walking instead. However I find a pint of tea on rising a necessity so carry teabags and dried milk powder.
Unusually for me, for this trail I separated out and prepacked some breaksfasts. Each was in a 500ml ‘Soup ‘n’ Sauce’ pouch from Lakeland. Once filled with a breakfast mix, these 130g pouches, with gusseted bottoms can stand unaided, have zip closures and are tough, also withstanding boiling water. I can either top these up with boiling water if eating prior to setting off, or more usually cold-soak- topping up with cold water and leaving to soak and swell prior to eating out of the pouch two to three hours down the trail. I could also add a good squeeze of honey from the small squeeze tube I carry. If I added a good quantity of water I could make this a particularly runny mix of cold soaked ‘gloop’ and had no need to break out the spoon, simply drinking it from the pouch when I halted. After which, I add a final slug of water, close and give the pouch a shake, then drink. That clears out almost all residue. The emptied pouch then becomes my rubbish bag for the day.
I am not overly content with the plastic waste that this method continues to create so will be moving toward a more sustainable cold-soak method over the next few hikes.
One, or two if I’m hungry, large flour tortilla with a ‘Tuna with a Twist‘ filling. These have a tomato and herb dressing and are very tasty. Perhaps a couple of squares of chocolate, or Snickers Bar, plus plenty of water. I might, just might, bother with making a brew.
First drink in camp is almost always an Oxo. One of the little beef extract cubes, dissolved in hot water is lightweight, hot, hydrating and returns lost salts. Alongside my meal I will then have a pint of tea. A favourite meal of mine of trail, when I frequently go veggie of an evening, is Lentil curry usually prepared when I make my first hot drink. This is made with red split lentils, covered with boiling water in a 1lt ‘Soup ‘n’ Sauce’ pouch and left to soak under a cosy. for up to half an hour. I have now stopped taking a foam or reflectix cosy with me and simply cover it with my down hat, which is equally as effective and can do double duty as insulation for my head later. Once softened and ‘cooked’, I add curry powder and a decent squeeze of both tomato and garlic puree.
My choice of carb with this is half to a whole packet (i.e. 100g = 3 servings) of Idahoan Instant Mashed potato. Finally a handful of crunchy, dried fried onions if I have them though I couldn’t locate any dried onions for my Yorkshire Wolds walk. This is a large, tasty and satisfying meal.
After eating I simply close the top of the emptied pouch and rinse it out the following day at some point prior to disposal or more usually reuse the pouch the following night. I will often have another mug of tea, or possibly a hot chocolate, with a couple of squares of chocolate later, just before kipping down.
As mentioned above, I have now decided that while this works well, I am not content with the plastic waste being created so will be moving to a pre-cook cold-soak regime in the future. This will also enable the lentils to soak before heating which also helps the body to metabolise them more efficiently.
I have one or two of various bars as snacks to eat during the day if I am flagging at some point. For the Yorkshire Wolds I included sesame bars and Kind bars. I will also scour the shelves prior to a trail and pick out any or many various treats prior to my walk for additional snaffling at any point during the day whenever I wished to. These could be Peanut M&Ms, Liquorice Allsorts (why have one sort of liquorice when you can have all sorts…), Jelly Babies, mixed nuts, dried apricots or other dried fruit. I saw mini Peanut Butter Snickers Bars on the supermarket shelf this time, so included two for each day.
There is a single oat bar and a single pack of Pop Tarts for eating whenever I wanted to. Plus two small sachets of Nando’s Hot Sauce, just to liven up anything I want. I included some unused pouches for part used food and rubbish.
Excluding the cook set, spoon and insulating ‘cosy’ (also kept inside), the contents of my food bag weighed 2771g, however this included an unknown weight of various pouches and wrappers containing the food. Food is heavy stuff! But at least the weight decreases quickly as the days pass on trail.
Once I had selected, rebagged and packed my four days of food, there was one final addition. Miss Three Points of the Compass had presented me with two bars of decent dark chocolate and one was slipped into my foodbag for additional treats.
The Z Packs food bag, with its wide mouth for easy access, will hold a great deal more than this little selection of food. There is easily room for a week of food in this. More if careful with choice and packaging.
As mentioned, because it wasn’t full, for this trail, I decided to also keep both cookset and my down hat ‘cosy’ in the food bag, purely for convenience. I don’t put my gas cartridge in my food bag as these can get a bit mucky from the ground and I don’t want that anywhere near my food.
I fully expected to take advantage of serendipity if such opportunity presented itself. On one evening I was camped only a short walk to a village pub (Goodmanham Arms) where I enjoyed a great steak and ale pie with decent beer and a bottle of Malbec (I’m on holiday). Please, how could I resist?
There was some food uneaten. A handful or two of lentils, one flour tortilla and the Pop Tarts were disposed on trail. Two pouches of instant mash and one pouch of tuna returned home with me, along with some brew kit items. I’m happy with that.
Three Points of the Compass does not always blog on the trails walked. Links to those that have been covered can be found here.
You have some excellent ideas here Jools. I have done the both the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wolds way but wasntcamping. I also found that village church halls were often open with tea making facilities which was very welcome.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Always worth poking a nose in an village church if it is open Bob, sadly, in Covid times, tea making facilities seem to be on hold
LikeLiked by 2 people
I am really curious to hear how you get on with cold soaking. I too have the problem with breakfast first thing when doing serous cycling and weight lifting it was a pain. I already had in mind from listening to people talk about how they did breakfast on the Way in that they would get up and walk, then have breakfast later so I like that idea of the cold soak for breakfast and turning it into a smoothie is just genius :). I also think this makes a lot of sense from a wild camping point of view in that you get up and get gone.
Have a look at Darwin On The Trail on Youtube as he has done this on long hikes and is currently doing it on the CDT and he also has a video on the Vargo Bots.
I wonder in normal times if you could plan and add a flask or insulated mug to somehow give you brew availability in the day and less heating at night? I have done this normal camping in that we filled a flask for drink making in the day. Just end up with a small stove system for desperate times, maybe hexi as the fuel seems to be everywhere.
As I reply, I am on the Speyside Way, cold-soaking breakfast and pre-soaking dinner in a Vargo BOT 700. It isn’t for everyone. Cold-soaked meals are, on a scale of 1-10 around 2 or 3. TVP is always going to be a poor excuse of a meal, but hey, experiment, find out what suits you
LikeLiked by 1 person
If you are going to test cold soaking in the UK, Scotland would be the ultimate test. Bet that Oxo is required at the end of the day!
I am in the process of setting up and then will start using and making lighter. I need to start doing some over nights. That soak breakfast smoothie idea really sounds interesting and makes sense to me.
Are you making a last push to finish all of the National Trails?
Eating ‘systems’ are all well and good but lack the adaptability often required in the real world. I have cold-soaked meals on-trail, off and on, for over forty years so I am not sure I am testing it now!
It is good to experiment, occasionally, though a hot meal can often be soooo appreciated.
Re the National Trails, there are so many miles of walks out there, home and abroad, we shall see
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have been in a hotel restaurant in the morning when they had no bananas, it was not pretty.
Yeah the brew when you finally get out the wind and rain is sooo good.
Re the National Trails, just wondered how many you had left to have done them all. Trying to set up to do my first next year.
LikeLiked by 1 person