Tag Archives: Food

Stove making

Playing with fire, again…

Having played around with steel tins a few days ago, and come up with my Mk II attempt at a robust, screw top, alcohol/meths stove, it was time to try out a couple of tweaks.

Using a more open gauze produced no weight saving, the very opposite resulted

Using a more open gauze produced no weight saving, the very opposite resulted

Other than using a slightly thinner section of ceramic wadding, therefore not compressed so much, I did wonder if I could lose another gram or two by using a more open wire gauze. But found that this uses a thicker gauge wire and actually came in at two and a half times the equivalent weight. So it was back to using my first choice.

Mk IV being timed

Mk IV burn being timed

My second tweak was to include a choke in the top of my stove. Mk III had a very thin 1g copper sheet disc cut and fitted beneath a wire gauze cap, while Mk IV stove had .016 aluminium sheet cut into a disc with a small square of wire gauze beneath it.  The circular cut out in the copper measures 33mm diameter and was created simply by running the point of a penknife round a bottle cap placed in the centre. The hole cut in the centre of the aluminium sheet was a very different affair. Hacked rather than cut might be a better description! Having no way to hand to create this, I simply folded the disc in half and cut a half moon approx 25mm diameter in the centre with a pair of Leatherman Raptor shears. The disc, sans centre,  weighs 2.4g.

 

Weights:

  • Mk II-    Tin, lid, ceramic wadding, wire gauze: 30.7g
  • Mk III-   Tin, lid, ceramic wadding, copper sheet choke and wire gauze: 29.3g
  • Mk IV-   Tin, lid, ceramic wadding, aluminium sheet choke, wire gauze disc below: 29g
Burn times between my Mk II and Mk III home made stoves were compared

Burn times between my Mk II and Mk III home made stoves were compared. 45ml of fuel was used in each

Burn times- all stoves brim full with fuel
Mk II No choke 22min 50sec
Mk III Copper sheet choke 27min 55sec
Mk IV Aluminium sheet choke 25min 5sec

It was a fairly cool evening at 18° with a slight breeze. In common with my last trial with a home made stove, I didn’t use any form of windshield. Next up is to get some boil times rather than burn times.

As it is, it is looking as though my Mk III is coming in as most effective in burn time and almost as light as the lightest.

The tools of the job

The tools of the job, from left to right- Mk IV, Mk III, Mk II, Mk I. Mk I was the untested disaster!

Playing with fire. the first burn

Playing with fire…

Three Points of the Compass has used stoves of various types, that have relied on a variety of fuels, over the years. In recent times I have become less fussed about all-out speed- now I simply get on with another task while water heats etc. I also don’t like noise around my campsite- my Jetboil and Primus OmniFuel are often simply too intrusive, especially on a quiet morning.

Additionally, I seek simplicity. To this end, for the last couple of years I have been enjoying my Speedster Stoves. Reasonably priced and burning  alcohol/meths, there really isn’t much to go wrong with these. Gary makes them out of small aluminium party favour tins with some wadding inside, held down by a bit of metal gauze. They are similar to the Zelph StarLyte, but I prefer the Speedster for its screw top lid, the plastic lid on the Zelph can split.

The two sizes of Speedster Stove that Three Points of the Compass has been relying on recent treks. 20ml and 30ml variants. So light that a second already primed with fuel can also be taken

The two sizes of Speedster Stove that Three Points of the Compass has been relying on for recent treks. The largest only weighs 18g. So light that a second already primed with fuel can also be taken if wished

In common with a number of other users of these stoves I have found the soft metal a little problematic over time. The threads wear and the fine dust can jam, cross threading is also a more frequently encountered issue. I wiped mine with copper grease which alleviated the problem a little but not entirely.

At the very reasonable cost, I could simply throw a problem stove away and buy a replacement, but with a hike of 1000 miles plus over three months to consider next year, I want a stove that is less likely to wear, so went looking for a steel version. I failed miserably so resolved to have a crack at making my own.

Constructing my own alcohol stove. The completed on on the right was Mark I and never got as far as being lit. I had attempted to simply fold the wire over but it was to stiff, Mark II had snipped edges and enable the wire to be bent well, holding the ceramic gauze down with problem

Constructing my own alcohol stove. The completed one on the right was Mark I and never got as far as being lit. I had attempted to simply fold the wire over but it was too stiff, Mark II (below) had snipped edges and enabled the rim of the wire circle to be bent, holding the ceramic gauze down without problem

I searched the supermarket shelves for a suitable screw top steel container that I could re-purpose. I found plenty of aluminium containers of various sizes but no steel tins. A few minutes on eBay called and I ordered a half-dozen 2oz screw top tins from the US. Each one of these weighs 21g empty.

Ceramic fibre off cuts were also bought online. These are body soluble, the safer version of this type of material. Also a small square of stainless steel woven mesh and that was it. I had all the makings required for a first attempt.

Stuffed with a cut disc of fibre, held in by the wire mesh, the stove will hold 60ml of meths

My Mark II attempt. Stuffed with a cut disc of ceramic fibre, held in by the wire mesh, the stove will hold 60ml of meths

Empty, my stove weighed 30.7g. When brim full of fuel, it weighs 75g. My first three burns with the stove tonight gave me between 17 minutes 15 seconds and 18 minutes 40 seconds of burn, but this was with a light breeze and without utilising my normal Caldera Cone. Air temperature was 23°.

Certainly the thread on these tin plated steel tins should be more robust and hold up longer over time. This is the balance that has to be accepted with the greater weight of this choice of material. I reckon my next attempt will utilise a little less ceramic wadding and if I use a wider weave mesh I can shave off a couple more grams.

I have to be careful though, I am encroaching on to the territory of the thousands of bods out there who love making their own stoves! Nothing wrong with that, but for me, Mark III or Mark IV should hopefully give me what I want.

Three Points of the Compass cooking earlier this year on the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

Three Points of the Compass making a brew earlier this year on the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path

The Norfolk Coast Path

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path- Part Two

 

The Norfolk Coast Path

Sandy isolation as I walk towards The Firs at Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve

Sandy isolation as I walk towards The Firs at Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve

Paths were invariably well maintained, it was often possible to find myself having strayed offf the official path on to one of the many other alternatives, but they all went in the same direction

Paths were invariably well maintained, I often found that I had strayed off the official path on to one of the many other alternatives, but they all went in the same direction

Starting on 1st April 2017, I walked the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path. On day four, I finished off the Peddars Way and began the Norfolk Coast Path, the flavour of the walk changed immediately and dramatically. On my walk northward from the Suffolk/Norfolk border, I had encountered very few people on the trail, as soon as I hit the coast, this changed. Not that anyone was doing, or appeared to be doing, the national trail. It was just that I was now in the midst of holidaymakers, fishermen (and fisherwomen, or is it just fisherpeople?) and the residents and workers in the small and larger towns that were lined up, like pearls on a necklace, along the coast.

There a number of map and guide options for the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, I took the relevant 1:50 000 O.S. maps as I already had them. I also purchased the Cicerone guide and the official trail guide. Both are excellent but I only took the Bruce Robinson guide with me

There a number of map and guide options for the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path. Knowing I would be going ‘off trail’ on occasion, I took the relevant 1:50 000 O.S. maps (sans covers) as I already had them. I also purchased the Cicerone guide and the official trail guide. Both are excellent but I only took the Bruce Robinson guide with me

My next few days comprised 20 miles from my last campsite on the Peddars Way, the lovely Bircham Windmill, to Deepdale, then 14,5 miles to Highsand Creek,  followed by 16 miles to my only stay at a hostel on the walk, the YHA hostel at Sherringham, leaving me a simple six miles to finish my trail at Cromer pier and then to the railway station. In all, I did 98.5 miles. This was certainly taken over the ton by my little wanderings and evening sorties from my tent. But, with map miles, it sits at 98.5 miles.

Because I knew that the nature watching was going to be so good on this trail, especially the Norfolk Coast Path, I wanted to include some optics in my kit list. Eschewing my heavy binoculars, I took a 109g 8x20 monocular. I was pleased I did as it was often used

Because I knew that the nature watching was going to be so good on this trail, especially the Norfolk Coast Path, I wanted to include some optics in my kit list. Eschewing my heavy binoculars, I took a 109g 8×20 monocular. I was pleased I did as it was often used

Someone had been playing silly buggers at Brancaster and had sawn off the finger posts. My own fault, I sauntered straight on and needlessly walked a mile and a half out to the point and back

Someone had been playing silly buggers at Brancaster and had sawn off the finger posts. My own fault, I never noticed and sauntered straight on, needlessly walking a mile and a half out to the point and back

I used to visit this part of the coast, almost as a pilgrimage, in the 1980s/90s when I was a keen birdwatcher. It is amongst the very finest of places to view birds- residents, migrants, raptors across the reedbeds, fantastic. But for me, it was the visits each late autumn/early  winter to see the thousands of geese, wintering away from the harsher conditions of Siberia that will live with me forever. Even hoofing along with a pack on my back and stopping infrequently, the Norfolk Coast Path was still a nature-watching marvel.

The early fine weather had encouraged many car borne visitors but few could be bothered to walk more than a mile or two from any carpark, as a result I had much of the coastal walking to myself  for hours on end.

Brent Geese, Shelduck and waders were constant companions

Brent Geese, Shelduck and waders were frequent companions. Seals were also often spotted

Smoke House in Cley

Smokehouse in Cley

Lobster and Crab pots are set all the way along this part of the coast

Lobster and Crab pots are set all the way along this part of the coast

Much of this part of the coast continues to change from the industry of old- fishing and smoking of fish, to the new, the tourist. However the flint built buildings are, mostly, well maintained, the natives friendly and opportunity to buy provisions vastly improved on anything I had experienced over the previous few days.

Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas enjoyed at Wells-next-the-Sea

Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas enjoyed at Wells-next-the-Sea

 

 

While I carried food for most meals over the Peddars Way part of this walk, I had known beforehand that opportunities to eat locally were going to be much improved on the second half of my walk.

Whereas I carried eight meals for the inland section, I only had two for the coastal section. All other were purchased locally. Though perhaps surprisingly, I only ate fish and chips the one time, When I reached busy Wells-next-the-Sea.

 

 

Superb breakfast at the Deepdale Cafe

Breakfast at the Deepdale Cafe included award winning Arthur Howell sausages and Fruit Pig Black Pudding

My two campsites on the coast were both perfectly adequate. Deepdale was a small field and I camped next to car campers, but I had no problem with that. There are plenty of opportunities to re-provision here but I only partook of a fine breakfast in the Deepdale Cafe.

 

£10 got me a huge field to myself and hot showers in the modern toilet block

£10 got me a field to myself at High Sand campsite and hot showers in the modern toilet block

A pint, good quality burger and writing up the days notes in the Red Lion, Stiffkey

A pint, good quality burger and writing up the day’s notes in the Red Lion, Stiffkey

Camping the following night at the High Sand camp site at Stiffkey saw my tent sitting alone in a huge field. The trail passed only a hundred metres away and I was content to treat myself to good food and ale at the Red Lion Inn in the local village.

 

 

This part of the coast was once the 'gateway to England' but silting up of creeks and changes in economics has reduced its importance. Blakeney is fairly typical of many towns along the coast, struggling to retain an identity. Small fishing boats take visitors out on seal watching trips when they are now out checking their lobster and crab pots

This part of the coast was once the ‘gateway to England’ but silting up of creeks and changes in economics has reduced its importance. Blakeney is fairly typical of many towns along the coast, struggling to retain an identity. Small fishing boats take visitors out on seal watching trips when their owners are not out checking their lobster and crab pots

The distinctive windmill at Cley next the Sea can be seen for miles across the marshes. The path goes right past it and I regretted, slightly, not pausing to sketch it

The distinctive windmill at Cley next the Sea can be seen for miles across the marshes. The path goes right past it and I regretted, slightly, not pausing to sketch it. The reeds here did offer up Bearded Tit though

There were a couple of miles of board walks in all

There were a couple of miles of board walks in all

 

Coastal walking was almost always on good paths, though I should think that many would be pretty claggy after rain. Reedbeds, sea defence walls above marshland, scrubby sand dunes, pine woodlands, saltmarsh, sand and shingle shoreline- my walking was through a number of special and specialised habitats, it was never boring for it changed so much.

Every few miles another coastal town would be encountered, I passed through these quite quickly as there was little to hold me.

 

Remains of an Allan Williams gun turret. 199 of these were made during World War II

Remains of an Allan Williams gun turret. 199 of these were made during World War II

This part of the coast was thought to be at risk of attack and invasion during World War II. Surviving coastal defence installations survive to this day

This part of the coast was thought to be at risk of attack and invasion during World War II. Coastal defence installations survive to this day

 

The coastline stretch from Cley next the Sea to Weybourne Hope is four miles of lonely splendour. The few dog walkers at the beginning were soon left behind. Sand gave way to shingle and I found myself racing the incoming tide, only having to move up on to the punishing stone for the final quarter of a mile

The coastline stretch from Cley next the Sea to Weybourne Hope is four miles of lonely splendour. The few dog walkers at the beginning were soon left behind. Sand gave way to shingle and I found myself racing the incoming tide, only having to move up on to the punishing stone for the final quarter of a mile

For such a busy stretch of coast, I often found myself alone. Few people will walk more  than two miles from their car and it is usually just the odd birdwatcher or sea angler that would be seen any further afield, again, there seemed to be few people walking purposely, and those I saw with small backpacks were either day walkers or slackpackers.

 

Beyond Weybourne Hope the path begins to climb as cliffs take over. This penultimate day saw me completing my biggest climb of the whole trail- the highest point was still only 346 feet (105 metres) above sea level. Norfolk really is a pretty flat county

Beyond Weybourne Hope the path slowly begins to climb as cliffs take over. This penultimate day saw me completing my biggest climb of the whole trail- though the highest point was still only 346 feet (105 metres) above sea level. Norfolk really is a pretty flat county

Beach huts below Sheringham Cliffs

Beach huts below Sheringham Cliffs

My final night was in Sheringham YHA. No private rooms were available so I shared a dorm with two other guys, we battled each other in the snoring stakes that night but I am pretty sure I won.

I like to put my trade toward the YHA where I can as I think they are still doing a grand job, mostly, in a difficult modern circumstance.  However I reckon I made a mistake eating an evening meal there. There was no ‘proper’ option on the menu at all, everything was snacks, so I settled for an ‘OK’ pizza. Breakfast was little better, the only egg option was scrambled, and I hesitate to guess how long it was since they had been scrambled! I queried at the counter, the server looked at me with bafflement- “I’m French” was her reply. OK, so no eggs forthcoming then.

My £12 overnight stay at Sheringham Youth Hostel was an adequate stop for my last night on the trail

My £12 overnight stay at Sheringham Youth Hostel was an adequate stop for my last night on the trail

Signposting and marking of trail was excellent on the Norfolk Coast Path

Signposting and marking of trail was excellent on the Norfolk Coast Path. You might think how difficult can it be to simply keep the sea on your left, but the trail often diverts inland where access rights have not been obtained, or where erosion has caused the path to disappear into the sea

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path ends at Cromer Pier. Much of this popular resort town is Edwardian in age and flavour

The National Trail ends at Cromer Pier. Much of this popular resort town is Edwardian in age and flavour. The Norflok Coast Path is now part of the ambitious plans for an English Coast Path, still in the making

Reminders of a seafaring community can be found everywhere

Reminders of a seafaring community can be found everywhere

I was so pleased to have completed both halves of the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path. While the walk through the interior of the county had been interesting, with a few points of interest, the coastal element was much more to my liking. Busy seaside towns nestled up against lonely saltmarsh and dune systems stretched for miles across a wide landscape.

The call of the nesting Curlew and Lapwing that I had gone to sleep to in the agricultural heartland was also encountered on the coast, to be joined with the burbling of hundreds of Brent geese and the frantic shriek of the ‘Sentinel of the Marshes’, the Redshank.

Dunlin, Sandpipers, Oystercatcher and Turnstone shuffled along the edge of the surf, only flying ahead when I got too close. It really was lovely coastal walking and I resented it when lack of Rights of Way took me on pointless and annoying diversions inland. I doubt that I shall return to this part of the country for quite some time but hope that the fragile eco-systems can withstand what appears to be growing numbers of visitors.

WORDS IN THE SAND, HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

 

Few of the older signs for the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path remain

The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path- Part One

The Peddars Way

“Peddars Way”- said to be derived from the Latin “pedester”, meaning “on foot”

Back in 2016, I completed The Ridgeway. I quite enjoyed this ancient trackway, walking from Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon, and resolved then to complete the Greater Ridgeway which comprises a number of ancient (and not so ancient) paths that stretch some 360+ miles from the South Coast at Lyme Regis in Dorset to the north Norfolk coast at Holme-next-the-Sea. It is mostly made up of four long distance paths- the Wessex Ridgeway, The Ridgeway, the Icknield Way and the Peddars Way. The latter is half of the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, a National Trail that I completed last month.

The Peddars Way has a number of sculptures, by Tom Perkins, along its length. These form part of the Songlines art project. This attempts to link current day travellers with events and people of the past. I prefrred to keep myself in the dark as to when these would be encountered and come across them unexpectedly

The Peddars Way has a number of sculptures, by Tom Perkins, along its length. These form part of the Songlines art project. This attempts to link current day travellers with events and people of the past. I prefrred to keep myself in the dark as to when these would be encountered and come across them unexpectedly. This is the third, found near Swaffham

A fine walk for a fine spring

A fine walk for a fine spring

I had considered walking the trail with Mrs Three Points of the Compass last year but reading up on the route decided that, if not actually likely to be boring, that there probably wasn’t going to be much of interest for the two of us. Nonetheless, on 1st April 2017 I set off to walk the 92 miles. Hopeful of at least a night or two wild camping, just a little preliminary research revealed that I would find water sources difficult to locate. To make it far easier, I stayed at recognised camping sites where water would not be a problem. I took my single skin Nigor WikiUp 3 SUL, the inner nest being correctly deemed unnecessary. The remainder of my gear can be seen here.

Other than my tent, which will be changed later this year, this walk was a bit of a final ‘shake-down’, seeing if my current kit list is where I want it for my Three Points of the Compass walk that starts exactly a year after I set off on the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path.

So typical of many National Trails, the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path has an inauspicious start. Setting off from a car park opposite Blackwater Carr on Knettishall Heath

So typical of many National Trails, the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path has an inauspicious start. Setting off from a car park opposite Blackwater Carr on Knettishall Heath

Sedgeford Magazine, now a private house, was built as a powder store or armoury in about 1640

Sedgeford Magazine, now a private house, was built as a powder store or armoury in about 1640. The trail passes right past it

Instead of being a boring route, I found much of interest. Both halves of the National Trail were a bit of a homecoming for me. I spent some time as a teenager, when I was an Army Cadet, traipsing through dripping foliage in the Military Training Areas of the Brecklands of north Suffolk and South Norfolk. The heavy, rubberised poncho I wore then proved to be excellent protection from the heavy rain all those years ago. The ponchos eventually gave way to lighter silicone coverings that were equally as effective  when strung as tarps for night halts. No rain was experienced on this last trip, unsurprising in one of the driest parts of the country.

The great majority of the 46 miles of the Peddars Way is in Norfolk but the path starts just a few hundred metres into neighbouring Suffolk. Here is Three Points of the Compass crossing the Little Ouse River which marks the county boundary

The great majority of the 46 miles of the Peddars Way is in Norfolk but the path starts just a few hundred metres into neighbouring Suffolk. Here, Three Points of the Compass crosses the Little Ouse River which marks the county boundary

A page from my trail journal

Part of a page from my trail journal

Catching a series of trains from home to Thetford, a £19 taxi ride took me to the start of my walk. It wasn’t long before I was in to acid grasslands, chalk grasslands, heathers and pine woodlands. The first couple of days also saw me passing more pig farms than I had ever seen before. Overhead, Buzzards were frequently seen but sadly no sight of the Stone Curlews for which I used to visit this area to see a couple of decades ago.

Easy and pleasant, if unremarkable walking with few 'ups and downs'

Easy and pleasant, if unremarkable, walking through mostly agricultural land with few ‘ups and downs’

I passed few people on the Peddars Way, frequently the only people I would see for hours would be farm workers in the fields

I passed few people on the Peddars Way, frequently the only people I would see for hours would be farm workers in the fields, or just the very occasional dog walker if near habitation

Little Cressingham combined water and wind mill as it once was

Little Cressingham combined water and wind mill as it once was

Where a walk of a mile or so would take me to something of interest, I would occasionally turn off the well marked path. The unique water and windmill at Little Cressingham is just the sort of little gem that adds so much to a walk such as this. I passed a number of windmills in Norfolk, few, if any, now filling their original purpose.

On just a few occasions I reined in my forward motion and paused for a few minutes to indulge in a brief sketch. Again, I am narrowing down my lightweight art kit that will accompany me on my Big Walk in 2018 and wanted to see how my small selection of materials is performing.

Just a brief diversion took me to the unique combined water and wind mill at Little Cressingham. Built in 1821, two stones at the base were turned by the waterwheel, while two further sets of stones were turned at the top by the sails. The sails were dispensed with in 1916 but the mill continued to work under oil or water power until 1952. The small white building to the left housed another waterwheel that pumped water up to Clermont Hall a mile distant.

Just a brief diversion took me to the unique combined water and wind mill at Little Cressingham. Built in 1821, two stones at the base were turned by the waterwheel, while two further sets of stones were turned at the top by the sails. The sails were dispensed with in 1916 but the mill continued to work under oil or water power until 1952. The small white building to the left housed another waterwheel that pumped water up to Clermont Hall a mile distant

The Dog and Partridge at Stonebridge

Landlady Karen welcomes the trail weary, dirty and sweaty walker in to The Dog and Partridge at Stonebridge

Ostrich Ale at the Green King Ostrich public house in Castle Acre

Re-hydrating with Ostrich Ale at the Green King Ostrich public house in Castle Acre

Other than halting to poke around ruined churches and the like, I happily stepped in to just a handful of pubs. Entering Stonebridge, I followed a road for no more than a couple of hundred metres, but walking past the door of the Dog and Partridge close to the end of a days walking was enough to tempt me in for a couple of excellent pints of Woodfordes Bure Gold. After all, it is almost a duty to put a little trade the way of the local businesses, isn’t it?

It was near Stonebridge that I was almost flattened by a group of off-road motorcyclists. Leaping to the side of the path to avoid being hit (and no, it wasn’t a By-way) I lived to walk another day.

 

“You’ve got to call it Swaaaaffam these days…”    Tony Garrod

Lunch stop at St. Andrew's Church, the south west tower fell in 1781 and lies in ruins, but the church is still in use

Lunch stop at St. Andrew’s Church, the south west tower fell in 1781 and lies in ruins, but the church is still in use

Tony Garrod of the Milestone Society was pleased to stop for a chat. Busy cutting back the vegetation around a freshly painted Mile Post dating from c1905, he belied his 82 years and told me of his 'patch' of Mile Posts on the Swaffham-Fakenham road

Tony Garrod of the Milestone Society was pleased to stop for a chat. Busy cutting back the vegetation and planting Hollyhocks and Sunflowers around a freshly painted Mile Post dating from c1905, he belied his 82 years and told me of his ‘patch’ of Mile Posts on the Swaffham-Fakenham road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving North Pickenham, the old Roman Road soon follows a lovely wide and grassy path known as Procession Lane. A name thought to derive from the ceremony of beating the bounds. I passed between the brick remnants, dating from 1875, of the former Swaffham - Thetford railway line

Leaving North Pickenham, the old Roman Road soon follows a lovely wide and grassy path known as Procession Lane. A name thought to derive from the ceremony of beating the bounds. I passed between the brick remnants, dating from 1875, of the former Swaffham – Thetford railway line

The path crosses right through, and close to, much of interest, even if there is often very little remaining to actually be seen on the ground now. I was thankful that I took my trail guide as I walked along the quiet and lonely Procession Lane. I would never have known that to my left was where B24 Liberators of the 492nd Bomb Group had set off for their 64 missions in just 3 months in 1944. It was here that the Thor ballistic missiles had been sited in 1959, setting off vehement anti-nuclear demos. Nothing remains of that to be seen. Little remained too, of the former Swaffham – Thetford railway that crossed both former airfield site and my path.

The gem of the Peddars Way is probably the remains of the Cluniac Priory at Castle Acre. I chose not to join the hordes of people, instead, walking the circumference

The gem of the Peddars Way is probably the remains of the Cluniac Priory at Castle Acre. I chose not to join the hordes of people there, instead, walking the circumference

Cooking up an Almond Jalfrezi from Tentmeals on my second night on the Peddars Way

Cooking up an Almond Jalfrezi from Tentmeals on my second night on the Peddars Way

Each of my camp sites was more than adequate. Day one saw me 8.5 miles to Puddledock Farm, day two took me 11 miles to Brick Kiln Farm and the final overnight halt on the Peddars Way was at the lovely Bircham Windmill after a 22.5 mile yomp.

The first time I have ever camped in the shadow of a windmill. Campers get free entry to look around Bircham Windmill, but sadly, I arrived after it had shut and left before it opened

The first time I have ever camped in the shadow of a windmill. Campers get free entry to look around Bircham Windmill, but sadly, I arrived after it had shut and left before it opened

Quiet leafy lanes. This was the least used of National Trails I have ever seen

Quiet leafy lanes. This was the least used of National Trails I have ever seen

Littleport Cottages, reached just prior to crossing the B1454 Sedgeford - Docking road, are typical of the little hamlets passed through or close by. No shops, no Post Office, this is the reason I took the majority of my meals with me- there are few opportunities to buy anything en route

Littleport Cottages, reached just prior to crossing the B1454 Sedgeford – Docking road, are typical of the little hamlets passed through or close by. No shops, no Post Office, this is the reason I took the majority of my meals with me- there are few opportunities to buy anything en-route

Every now and then on my three-ish days on the Peddars Way, there was a reminder of the thousands of people- soldiers, traders, pilgrims and the itinerant, that had used this route in the past. Fields are dotted with marl pits, there is the occasional tumuli from the Bronze Age, but I had to look hard for the traces of Roman Forts. I suppose the finest record of their passing is the trail itself.

Close to the Anmer-Houghton road, the Peddars Way passes a number of tumuli dating from around 1300 - 1500BC. This is one of Norfolk's most important Bronze Age sites and of national importance

Close to the Anmer-Houghton road, the Peddars Way passes a number of tumuli dating from around 1300 – 1500BC. This is one of Norfolk’s most important Bronze Age sites and of national importance

While there was a great deal of easy going trackway, I had to contend with quite few miles of road walking. This had already begun to cause me problems with my feet, but I will write about that issue another day.

Crossing the River Nar on the Peddars Way. The trail is well marked but I was still pleased to have both map and trail guide with me

Three Points of the Compass crossing the River Nar on the Peddars Way. The trail is well marked but I was still pleased to have both map and trail guide with me

Is the Peddars Way worth doing? Absolutely. However I would add that it is essential to also complete the Norfolk Coast Path in order to gain the contrast. My next post will cover that section of the trail.

Walking the Peddars Way

Another piece in the Greater Ridgeway jigsaw completed…

A few grams here, a few grams there... in search of the perfect lighter

A few grams here, a few grams there… in search of the perfect lighter

I have used many types of stove over the years- white gas (Colman), gas, paraffin (kerosene), petrol, even diesel in an omnifuel stove once (just once, never again!) I only ever used hexamine blocks in army days. However my preference for most trips, where I will be cooking, is meths (denatured alcohol).

I have a number of beloved Zippo lighters sitting around the house from my days as a smoker. One of my most sentimental possessions is the old brass Zippo my dad used to have. None of these are in any way suitable for backpacking use when using meths as they are too bulky, run out of fuel too quickly and are pretty hefty too. What is required is one of the lightweight butane gas lighters. There is a butane Thunderbird insert for a Zippo but one of the plastic disposables weighs a tenth of that.

For most short trips, matches will do just fine for fire making. Be they waterproof (sic) or long 'cooks' matches. All are OK unless there is any sort of breeze. Lifeboat matches, with their extra long, varnish dipped, heads will continue to burn in wind and rain. However they are an expensive option. I like using a flint and steel, but this can be a right pain when meths is cold. For longer trips, something that will light hundreds of times is required and matches are only useful as back-up

For most short trips, matches will do just fine for fire making. Be they waterproof (sic) or long ‘cooks’ matches, all are OK unless there is any sort of breeze. Lifeboat matches, with their extra long, varnish dipped, heads will continue to burn in wind and rain. However they are an expensive option. I like using a flint and steel, but this can be a right pain when meths is cold. For longer trips, something that will light hundreds of times is required and matches are only useful as a back-up, but keep them dry…

There are a lot of disposable lighters on the market. The range of models from any one maker is huge and my experience of what is available from this huge offering is obviously minuscule. But I have explored, slightly, a handful of the options available to me.

Disposable lighter from Cricket

12g disposable lighter from Cricket

For quite some time I have simply used an Original Cricket Lighter. In 1961, Cricket were the first company to release a disposable lighter on to the market and, in common with just about any other brand out there, they all work pretty well.

There are various offerings from the brand. The one that has sat in my cook kit for years (these lighters really do last a long time) was given to me in a pub, advertising the UK chain of public houses. Mine is the Original model, long and slim, to sit in a pack of cigarettes, not that I am a smoker these days.

Mini-Bic lighter

11g Mini-Bic lighter

Cricket do make a small version of their full size offering, however I went with the mini Bic lighter when I was looking to shave off a couple of grams. Though actually, my only saving was a single gram! But the slightly smaller presence of the mini lighter is an equally mini-bonus I suppose. Bic are a far younger producer of lighters, having only purchased the French lighter manufacturer Flaminaire in 1973, however they dominate the disposable lighter market. Well known and respected for good reason- cheap, reliable consistency. So good are their mini lighters that I carry a spare when backpacking.

The 'soft' flame from a traditional gas lighter can drift around a little in a breeze

The ‘soft’ flame from a traditional gas lighter can drift around a little in a breeze

A 'jet' flame from a disposable lighter is more directed, with less chance of scorching fingers

A ‘jet’ flame from a disposable lighter is more directed, with less chance of scorching fingers.Note that just like a meths flame itself, the flame from a lighter can be invisible in daylight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disposable lighter from Italian distributor Afruni

34g disposable jet lighter from Italian distributor Afruni

I have found on occasion when lighting my little Speedster stove that I can burn my fingers in any sort of breeze as the flame drifts around a little. So I went looking for one of the ‘turbo’ or jet lighter options. There are a lot of these available but for the past year or so I have been using one of the Euroflame models from Italian supplier Afruni. I can’t find a lot about this company online but as to the lighter itself, I liked the jet flame produced, which aided sideways lighting of my stove. I also like the flip top cap on the lighter. Which I felt may prevent debris from clogging the nozzle. However not only do I feel that keeping the lighter with the cook set obviates slightly the need for a cap to the lighter, but, in common with many other turbo lighters on the market, my lighter was too heavy at 34g, even if it is possible to refill this option. The piezo ignition is another step above the simple flint striker on my Bic and Cricket options but both those manufacturers also offer piezo alternatives now.

2014 advertisement for the Torjet 'all weather' refillable windproof lighter

2014 advertisement for the Torjet ‘all weather’ refillable windproof lighter

Torjet lighter, wrapped with Hemp Wick. Total weight- 24g

20g Torjet lighter, wrapped with a couple of metres of Hemp Wick. Total weight- 24g

What I have settled on is one of the 20g offerings from Torjet. This is supplied by Tor Imports who were founded in 1992 to supply cigars and smoking accessories. Yet another cheap ‘n’ cheerful product that does exactly what it sets out to do. I am keen on the refillable aspect of these lighters. When you reflect on the fact that Bic have sold over 30 billion of their disposable lighters, anything we can do to reduce this landfill just slightly can only be good.

The lighter is refillable and has piezo ignition. The jet nozzle is closed and protected when not lit. It has a long slim profile that fits in the hand well. It lights well and has never failed me.

All that said. It makes sense to be prepared and I do carry a spare lighter with me. There is no need for another Torjet however so a bright red mini Bic is my back-up. A bright colour lighter makes sense as they show up well in the grass when cast to one side while cooking.

Hemp Wick

Hemp Wick

Hemp cord is coated with beeswax and is easily snuffed out once the job is done. Being stiffened, it keeps its shape when wrapped around a light

Hemp cord is coated with beeswax and a flame is easily snuffed out once the job is done. Being stiffened, Hemp Wick keeps its shape when wrapped around a lighter

99% of the time I use my lighter as a lighter, simply pressing the ignition and sending a red hot jet of flame in from the side. For those odd times where I want to be a little more distant, usually for a wood fire. I wrap a couple of metres of Hemp Wick round the Torjet lighter. Not only does this provide a better grip in the rain, but it is handy to pull off a couple of inches, light it, and it then works as a handy, fairly slow burning wick. This will not work in any sort of strong breeze and needs the good shelter provided by my Caldera Cone. The Hemp Wick is not required often, but is there if required.

I only occasionally use the Inferno insert to convert my Caldera to wood burning mode and can see my Hemp Wick being helpful at lighting this at times, either catching the end of torn paper, grass or a smidge of Hammaro tinder card.

My lighter arsenal for multi-day backpacking trips. A 20g mini-Bic disposable lighter and 20g refillable jet Torjet lighter wrapped with 4g of Hemp Wick

My lighter arsenal for multi-day backpacking trips. A 11g mini-Bic disposable lighter and 20g refillable Torjet lighter wrapped with 4g of Hemp Wick

I note that Thunderbird make a jet style ‘torch insert‘ for Zippo lighters, I just have to refrain from indulging myself…

Snickers bitesize

Trail snacks- Snickers

Time I thought, to have a closer look at that staple trail snack of many a hiker- the Snickers bar.

I grew up with this confectionery when it was named Marathon, now that dates me! But I was surprised to find just how much variety there had been in these over the years.

Marathon bars had been sold in the UK since the 1930s and I was as outraged as everyone else when the makers Mars announced a name change in 1990 to bring all of their worldwide products under global rather than local identities. I was unaware of the overseas heritage and long-lived name and, frankly, didn’t care much. Named after the Mars’ family’s favourite horse, the original Snickers was introduced to a welcoming public in 1930.

Marathon bar

Marathon bar, 1980s

For some eighteen months, bars carried both names; ‘Marathon, internationally known as Snickers‘, before changing to simply ‘Snickers’. Obviously I couldn’t really care less about the name change today, plus ça change.

Marathon bar, transition wrapper, 1990s

Marathon bar, transition wrapper, 1990s

Most people, and certainly, most hikers, will be pretty familiar with Snickers bars. They are peanut butter nougat with caramel, topped with roasted peanuts and covered with milk chocolate.

Snickers, new name in UK, 1991/2

Snickers, new name in UK, 1991/2

Those in the UK are marketed as being free from artificial colour, flavour and preservatives. They are also marketed as being suitable for vegetarians. The manufacturer, Mars, Inc., is one of the largest food and confectionery businesses in the World.

Despite much tinkering with the ingredients, more so in recent years, (even to the entire replacement of peanuts in some variants), Snickers are mostly associated to the milk chocolate covered peanuts, complete with nougat and caramel. So linked is the brand to peanuts, that the Snickers brand accompanied Munch Peanut Brittle on the packaging from their initial release in 1971, off and on, until the 1990s. I have illustrated below a few of the short lived varieties that have appeared on the shelves over the years. Some were no doubt re-branded subsequently, or vanished to the great confectionery shop in the sky. There are a few that I have never personally encountered. The Snickers Cruncher bar, released in 2000, containing crisped rice as well as the usual peanuts, caramel and milk chocolate was one that never made it to UK shores.

Snickers Crisper. Crisped rice, peanuts topped with caramel, coated in milk chocolate. 200cal.

Snickers Crisper. Crisped rice, peanuts topped with caramel, coated in milk chocolate. 200cal.

Snickers Nut 'n Butter Crunch

Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch. Another short-lived Limited Edition Snickers bar that I never tried. 2007

You may have noticed from the images how the bars appear to have got smaller over the years. In the UK in 2008/9, manufacturer Mars reduced the size of both their Mars and Snickers bars by 7.2% from 62.5g to 58g (prices remained the same!) and bars then carried 280 calories. In 2013, the size of a single Snickers bar was further reduced to 48g. At the time, this was put down to the manufacturer’s commitment to reducing the calorie content of single service products to less than 250 calories by the end of 2013, a so-called- calorie reduction Responsibility Pledge.

Though size does depend on how you buy them. The one I pulled from a multi-pack today only weighs 41.7g. Snickers also have a habit of making their Limited Edition products in a slightly smaller size.

Snickers. 41.7g

Snickers. 41.7g. 413kcal- Multipack bar. Photographed 2016

However a bar purchased singly in 2016 still gives you 48g of loveliness. Though I do think we are being slightly conned here. It should be noted that none of the ingredients in a typical Snickers are of particularly high quality. Top quality ingredients simply wouldn’t be possible in the vast numbers of confectionery bars produced and consumed globally.  However, all of the ingredients come together nicely and it is not surprising that Snickers have been national favourites for decades.

Snickers, single bar. 49g

Snickers, single bar. 48g. 245kcal. Photographed 2016. Roasted peanuts (24%), caramel 27%), nougat (14%), Milk chocolate (35%). Fat 13.4g of which saturates 4.7g, carbohydrates 26.2g, of which sugars 21.7g, Protein 4.5g, Salt 0.21g

Snickers clones

Snickers clones from Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons

There are many copy cat versions of Snickers available. I have tried many but none quite pass muster against the old favourite. Possibly the best amongst those shown on the left is the M&S version, the ‘nutty ONE’, that has a good balance of flavours and texture.

Snickers Xtreme. 2008

Snickers Xtreme. 58.7g. 2010

Most of us will not have come across many of the varieties that have appeared across the years. Snickers Xtreme not only answered the calls of those turned off by nougat, but was also an exercise in packing as many peanuts into the bar as possible. Originally released as a Snickers Xtreme All Nuts and Caramel version at Candy Expo in 2010 and a fore-runner of the ‘More Nuts’ Snickers bar that hit the UK in 2010. This chocolate bar surrounded an extra quantity of peanuts in the caramel, at the total loss of the nougat from the bar. By the way, the Snickers Xtreme was re-branded temporarily as Snickers XScream in time for Halloween 2015.

I would argue that the Snickers Charged was even more extreme, if for a different reason. It contained 60mg Caffeine and 250mg Taurine in addition to the usual chocolate, peanuts, caramel and nougat. Enough there to wake you up in the morning and keep you going, however taurine and chocolate are uncomfortable bedfellows.

Snickers Charged. 51.9g

Snickers Charged. 51.9g. 250cal. 2008

The monstrous Snickers Slice 'n Share

The monstrous Snickers Slice ‘n Share weighed over 450g

There were 45g Snickers bars in the 1980s, and today you have a handful of the ‘fun’ size mini bars, most easily encountered in the mixed ‘Celebrations’ tubs. Often you can get seasonal and search out the Snickers Santa and Nutcracker that has occasionally been on offer, hang them from your snow laden tent why don’t you? For our U.S. friends there are also the pumpkin shaped, if normal flavoured, 31g Snickers Pumpkins.

Snickers Egg and Snickers Peanut Butter Egg

Snickers Egg and Snickers Peanut Butter Egg

With all these mini-bars etc. knocking around, for those concerned that they are not getting sufficient Snickers fix, how about the 454g Slice ‘n Share Snickers bar released in 2013. It was 25cm long and contained over 2000 calories. Enough there to keep you going on the trail for a few days.
Perhaps best not to dwell too long on the Snickers Eggs as I am not quite sure that these really qualify as Snickers. Though some of the Limited Edition Snickers  listed below are as alien to the original product as these eggs are.

Snickers Duo. 2 x 41.7g

Snickers Duo. 2 x 41.7g. 213kcal each. photographed 2016

The Duo bars are supposed to be an attempt to side track the former large bars that were slated by health groups. You are now supposed to share the bars, happily presenting the second bar to your nearest and dearest, yeah, right!

Snickers & Hazelnut. 49g. 240kcal

Snickers & Hazelnut. 49g. 240kcal. photographed 2016. Peanuts 17%, Hazelnuts 5.6%, Caramel 27%, milk chocolate with nougat 15%. Fat 11.7g, of which saturates 4.4g, Carbohydrate 29.2g, of which sugars 24.7g, Protein 4g, salt 0.29g

Beside acting as trail snack, a Snickers bar is just the right tool to see you through a cold nights sleep. Eat one of these just before settling down for the night and it provides a good number of calories for the body to burn to keep you warm through the small hours.

Snickers Almond. 49.9g, 230kcal

Snickers Almond. 49.9g, 230kcal, photographed 2016

Snickers Almond

Snickers Almond. 49.9g, 230kcal. Milk chocolate, almonds, caramel, nougat. Total fat 10%, of which 4g Saturated Fat. Sodium 110mg, Carbohydrates- 32g (Sugars- 27g). Protein 3g

Snickers Almond

Snickers Almond

 

 

 

 

 

The Snickers Almond is an excellent product. To some extent I actually (whisper it) prefer it over a regular Snickers. Certainly it is just as good. The balance of flavours and texture is good. I would have to be told that this is an almond and not peanut Snickers before detecting a discernible difference, which probably says much more about my poor palate rather than anything else.

Obviously there are some out there who have a general rather than  specific nut allergy (Peanuts are a legume, not of the nut family).

'limited Edition' Snickers bars. More Caramel, More Nuts, and More Chocolate bars failed to win much public attention in the UK. In truth, there was little dicernable difference between the bars

‘limited Edition’ Snickers bars. More Caramel, More Nuts, and More Chocolate bars failed to win much public attention in the UK. In truth, there was little discernible difference between these bars

The number of varieties of Snickers that have appeared on the shelves is quite astonishing. Mars, the manufacturers, have struggled both to invigorate falling unit sales in a burgeoning sweet market. They have attempted to seek out the new ‘big winner’ in public attention and, ultimately, sales. Being a worldwide product, some varieties have been country specific. I would guess that virtually the same product has appeared in different countries under different names.

Snickers 3xchocolate

Snickers 3 x chocolate. ‘2 to go’ (two bars), 89g, 210 kcal. 2012

In advance of the three ‘More…’ varieties released to the UK market in 2012-14, the market had been thoroughly explored elsewhere in Europe. Befitting a chocolate bar, a version with more ‘this, that and the other’ chocolate was released to an expectant American market in 2012. Together with the usual peanuts, there was chocolate flavoured nougat, chocolate caramel and covered with milk chocolate. In the UK, a Limited Edition ‘More Nuts’ variety was launched in 2010, followed by a ‘More Caramel’ bar in 2013.

Snickers Max Caramel

Snickers Max Caramel. 2012

A ‘Snickers Max Caramel’ version was also trialled in Germany in 2012. A ‘More Choc’ variety was added to the UK special editions in 2014 together with a £3 million advertising campaign. Yes, there is a lot of money in these confectioneries.

Snickers Maximus

Snickers Maximus. 52.5g. 269kcal. No nougat in this bar, so increased proportions of peanuts (26%) and caramel (42%) with the usual chocolate covering (31%). 2011

The Snickers Maximus is essentially the same product as the Snickers More Caramel that followed in its wake. I would guess that both of these are also identical to the ‘Max Caramel’ Limited Edition too. Just how many names can you give the same product?

 

Note that the 3 x chocolate bar shown above is a ‘2 to go’ variant. Mars released a number of their Snickers bars in this format in 2012- There were regular Snickers, Snickers 3 x chocolate, Snickers Almond and Snickers Peanut Butter, though the last actually came as a 4 to go’ as the bars were already produced as small squares.

Snickers- Rockin' nut Road. 49.9g. 230kcal

Snickers- Rockin’ nut Road. 49.9g. 230cal. Photographed 2016

Snickers Rockin' Nut Road

Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road. 49.9g bar providing 10g total fat of which 4.5g is saturated fat. 26g of sugars and 90mg of sodium

I am a bit of a fan of the Snickers Rockin’ nut Road (called Rocky Nut Road in Canada) This is probably because I like the slight bitterness from the dark chocolate, that isn’t swamped by over the sweetness of the caramel and marshmallow flavoured nougat. You can see from the image that Snickers haven’t exactly overloaded these bars with Almonds. The low percentage is probably reflected in the 3g of protein provided. This compares to the 4.5g that comes from a regular 48g Snickers bar. So, taste- OK. But must try harder

 

Snickers Mixed Nuts. 49.9g. 240ckal

Snickers Mixed Nuts. 49.9g. 240cal. Photographed 2016. Peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, caramel, nougat, milk chocolate. Fat 12g, of which saturates- 4g. Sodium 115mg, Sugars 26g, Protein 4g

Snickers Mixed Nuts

Snickers Mixed Nuts

While given the moniker ‘Mixed Nuts’ this Snickers has an overwhelming taste of hazelnut. The mix of nuts would benefit from slight tweaking to allow the peanuts and almonds to shine through. That said, this is a tasty product. The proportion of nougat and caramel would appear to be the same as with a regular Snickers which not only gives a lovely chewy texture but allows the sweetness of the caramel to counterbalance the dry mouthfeel of the hazelnuts.

Snickers Mixed Nuts

Snickers Mixed Nuts

Snickers have occasionally knocked out versions of their popular bar with an extra internal portion of nuts, there have been a number of short-lived promotions with ‘10% more nuts’.  The ‘limited edition’ Snickers Mixed Nuts does the same, crams in yet more nuts. Not just peanuts in this case, but hazelnuts and almonds as well. This is one variant I could grow to love. We shall have to gloss over the fact that 26g of this bar is sugars.

Why have one Snickers when you have nine...

Why have one Snickers when you have nine…

The diminutive Nestle Butterfinger

A diminutive Nestle Butterfinger

Nestle, the largest food company in the World, have also produced what I would call their peanutty version of the Snickers via their Butterfinger. I am sure that many would dispute that similarity. I find it interesting how close the packaging is to the Snickers Peanut Butter Squared below. The ‘crispety, crunchety, peanut buttery’ bars are also available as ‘cups’ and bitesize. A very popular sweet, between 2007 and 2010 they were ranked as the eleventh most popular candy bar sold in the United States. Personally I find them  overly sweet, too crunchy at first followed by a tooth cloying likeness to chewing gum.

Snickers peanut butter Squared. 2 x bars. Each 125kcal

Snickers Peanut butter Squared. 2 x bars, each 125cal. 50.5g. Photographed 2016

Snickers Peanut Butter

Snickers Peanut Butter. Two squares totalling 50.5g. Providing 14g total fat, of which saturates 5g. Carbohydrates 29g, of which sugars 23g, protein 5g. 150mg Sodium

Snickers Peanut Butter- There are two squares in these packs, each containing Peanut Butter, peanuts, caramel nougat, milk chocolate. Both squares together provide 250cal.

I admit to being pleasantly surprised with the Snickers Peanut Butter squares. Despite there being a woefully small content to the wrapper, calories are good. Taste is too. A little sweeter than a regular Snickers, probably mostly provided by the thin layer of caramel. There is a distinct lack of the roasted peanut taste. However it is in the texture that the difference primarily lies. Both layers of caramel and nougat are quite thin top and bottom with a good layer of peanut butter between. The Squares filling is smooth with only a slight and infrequent crunch from the very occasional peanut piece in the smooth peanut butter. The latter definitely lacking in the depth of taste that a jar of decent peanut butter might offer. A good confectionery product, but a Snickers it isn’t.

Snickers Peanut Butter (left, Snickers regular (right)

Snickers Peanut Butter (left), Snickers regular (right)

Reece's Minis and Pieces- so, so sweet

Reece’s Peanut Butter Minis and Pieces- so, so sweet

I wonder if the Peanut Butter squares were inspired by the short-lived Snickers Peanut Caramel chews of 2006? Perhaps not, those had no nougat, whereas these square bars, complete with peanut butter, peanuts, caramel, nougat and covered with milk chocolate, are quite excellent. Incidentally, I certainly prefer the Squares over just about any of the Reece’s Peanut Butter products, which I find tooth enamel stripping sweet.

Snickers Dark. 51.9g. 250kcal

Snickers Dark. 51.9g. 250kcal

How about the Snickers Dark? I must again admit to a predilection for dark chocolate and welcome this version of Snickers on the few times that I have come across it, (who recalls the Snickers Intense Choc bar a few years ago?). However, I am very much a minority within my family on this, none of them liking dark chocolate at all, so… all the more for me!

Transformers Snickers

Transformers Nougabot Snickers, 2009

Other ‘Special Edition’ versions of Snickers are alien to me. What about the ‘Intense Choc’ special edition? Possibly they passed me by or have not been made available in the UK. However, I am very pleased that neither the 2009 Transformers ‘Nougabot’ Snickers, complete with bright yellow nougat (right),  or the green stuff that accompanied the Shrek Snickers bar in 2007, are still around to haunt us.

Snickers Adventure Bar

Snickers Adventure Bar, 2008

Some of these film tie-in products are thankfully short-lived and quickly fade from memory, the product being simply gimmicky and not worth pursuing with. After all- anyone remember the Snickers Adventure Bar? Complete with the addition of spice and coconut flavour, it was released to tie in with the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull film. If I want coconut, I’ll buy a Bounty, just keep it away from my Snickers please. Though I shouldn’t complain too much, after all, the 1929 Snickers included Coconut Oil amongst its ingredients.

Snickers Fudge, 50g. 250kcal. 2009/10. No caramel in this, top half is of artery hardening fudge. Though mini versions were also available, almost a health food, almost

Snickers Fudge, 50g. 250kcal. 2009/10. No caramel in this, top half is of artery hardening fudge. Mini versions were also available, almost a health food, almost

Some varieties may justify a longer shelf presence in the shops though. Snickers Fudge is just one of a number of special varieties that I would happily slip in to my pack. However, having missed the opportunity with this one, I am not going to pay the quite extraordinarily inflated prices that ‘past sell by date’ confectionery is sold for on eBay  and the like. But should they pop up on the market again…

Researching this blog, I noticed that another Snickers was out there to find- After a dint of searching, I located a small supply, but they took some finding. This is the intriguingly named Snickers Protein. We all know that peanuts provide a decent amount of protein, the Snickers Xtreme gave 5g of protein. With a very obvious intention of capitalising on today’s protein trend, Snickers Protein and Mars Protein bars were released in early 2016.

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Snickers Protein, 51g. 199kcal. 2016. 7.1g fat of which 2.7g are saturates. 18.4g carbohydrate of which 9.5g is sugar. 18.2g protein with just 0.17g sodium

The Snickers Protein bar contains 18g of protein and was advertised as providing just 190kcal. However I find that the bars as purchased have 199kcal. What is shocking is the vast mark-up in price that has been realised. While a regular Snickers bar (containing 9.4g of protein) can be picked up in a supermarket for 60p, (though packs of four can often be found for £1), on release the Snickers Protein was made available at a recommended retail price of £2.19. So, a real bargain there then! Also, about as far removed from the hikers friend, a regular choccy Snickers bar, as you can get.

Snickers Protein. A deeply unsatisfying bar

Snickers Protein. A deeply unsatisfying bar. Despite being advertised as ‘a caramel layer and peanuts coated in milk chocolate’ you have to search for the peanuts in these, both texture and taste are somewhat bland

Beside the attempt at marketing these bars as a premium product, a step-above and with supposedly little in common with the sweets of norm, these are as far removed from healthy eating as any other Snickers bar.

Snickers Flapjack. "Delicious flapjack with peanuts & caramel, topped with milk chocolate"

Snickers Flapjack- “Delicious flapjack with peanuts & caramel, topped with milk chocolate”

Don’t believe the marketing blurb, the Snickers Flapjack isn’t a flapjack and it isn’t a Snickers. Instead, it is pretty unsatisfying, messy, complicated texture and taste that fails to deliver on both fronts, pass them by…

Snickers Flapjack, 2016

Snickers Flapjack, 2016

Snickers Bites: released around 2013, but only appearing in any large quantity in the UK in 2016. Each 220kcal 'bite sized portion' weighs 45.3g, pack size is 136g.

Snickers Bites: released around 2013, but only appearing in any large quantity in the UK in 2016. Each 220kcal ‘bite sized portion’ weighs 45.3g, pack size is 136g. Photographed 2016

Snickers White

Snickers White. 49g, 241kcal. 2016. 1.8g fat of which 4.5 saturates. 29g carbohydrates of which 24.8g sugars. 4.4g protein with just 0.31g sodium

The most recent variety I have come across is an especially sweet tasting offering. The white chocolate covered Snickers White is uncommonly encountered in the UK and you need to go searching. Time will tell if it becomes more widely available. It is, truth be told, slightly sickly in its intense sweetness. I was reminded of the taste of condensed milk and the savouriness of the peanuts is slightly swamped.

Snickers White is a very similar beast to a normal Snickers with just a change of chocolate

Snickers White is a very similar beast to a normal Snickers with just a change of chocolate. Still a decent amount of peanuts in these

Snickers Sticks- available in boxes of 10

Snickers Sticks- available in boxes of 10

I am hopeful that the slightly smaller Snickers Sticks, more commonly found available in Germany and other places, will be made available in the UK. I like the size of these bar. Each weighs 21.5g and provides 107kcal of the normal Snickers loveliness. This is a really handy size and, if priced correctly, would fill a niche in the confectionery market.

Regardless of the varieties, I shall be continuing to slip the odd Snickers bar into my pack’s hip pockets for some time yet. When energy flags, one of these bars really does satisfy…

Mixed dried fruit

Trail snacks- dried fruit

Snacking in the Lake District, 2015

Three Points of the Compass snacking on dried fruit in the English Lake District, autumn 2015

The advantages of snacking on trail mix throughout a long days hiking are well known. Keeping a steady inward trickle of calories avoids the energy slumps that can come up so slowly but manifest themselves so suddenly.

There are many favourites amongst hikers, jelly babies and jelly beans, Snickers and Mars bars, energy gels and drinks, protein bars and oak cakes, nuts and Jaffa cakes. I have chatted before on one particular sticky favourite of mine- Sesame Snaps. Many embrace the various pre-prepared trail mixes that are produced though it is almost as easy to produce a far more flavoursome mix yourself.

Dried fruit

Another favourite of mine is dried fruit. These usually contain only naturally occurring sugars (fructose) and a bare minimum of salt. Some fruits such as cranberries, cherries, strawberries and mango may have had a sweetener added either prior to or following drying. Others such as cherries, papaya, kiwi and pineapple may have been soaked in heated sugar syrup (which draws out the moisture and preserves the fruit) and are more properly candied rather than dried fruit. However it is often possible to find fruits that have not undergone either such adulteration.

Drying fruit for later consumption is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. Figs, dates, apricots and apples have long been prepared in this manner, as have raisins, which today form about half of the dried fruit consumed globally. Most of the nutritional value of the fruit is retained. Of additional benefit is the low to moderate Glycaemic Index (GI) of dried fruit. Therefore more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised. This means a slower rise in blood sugar level and insulin level due to the slow release of glucose into the bloodstream, far more suited to an activity such as hiking over a sustained period.

Another advantage of consuming dried fruit is that as the water (weight) is withdrawn, the nutrients are condensed into a smaller and lighter product. While I don’t use a dehydrator myself, many hikers and backpackers like to produce fruit ‘leathers’ with a dehydrator that not only provide the aforementioned calorific boost and nutritional value, but are also further reduced in bulk.

Some pre-prepared bags of dried fruit are small and expensive- however very tasty! These small bags of baked and dried strawberries and pineapple only provide around a 100kcal each. Each 35g portion contains 24g carbohydrate, of which 20g is naturally occurring fruit sugar

Some pre-prepared bags of dried fruit are small and expensive- however very tasty! These small bags of baked and dried strawberries and pineapple provide around a 100kcal each. Each 35g portion contains 24g carbohydrate, of which 20g is naturally occurring fruit sugar

 

Other advantages are reduced or zero fat and increased amounts of fibre over same sized servings pre-drying. Dried fruits are also often a good provider of antioxidants, which can fight heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and some degenerative diseases of the brain.

While I do occasionally buy one or more of the small pre-prepared pouches of fruit, I tend to get the larger bags, usually intended for cooking with. A good tasty mix can be made, possibly adding a few cracked nuts, and any amount can be taken in a zip-lock baggie. The mix shown above is some of that left over from making the family Christmas Puds! It consists of currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries and blueberries. I find the chopped dried dates, prunes and glacé cherries which are also part of the finished mix too sticky to use as trail snacks. But I do like to take dried mango (a favourite), apricots and figs with me.

Another bonus is that dried fruit is not difficult to find. They have the advantage of being pretty much universally available in many shops. If not in the baking area, then in ‘healthy eating’ or snacking parts of the shelves.