Monday, 7 May 2018

Food on the Great English Walk

I have been asked about food on this walk. Often on multi-day walks, I have resupplied by posting resupply parcels once a week to camp sites or post offices. Camp sites are best as their opening times are more convenient. These parcels will contain such items as:

Evening meals
Tea and coffee bags
A disposable razor
Loo roll and wet wipes

In all cases, the right quantities of everything to last a week.

The food will be exactly what I want to eat, rather than whatever I can find in village or garage shops which will not always be what I want. Evening meals will often be what I have cooked at home and then I will have dehydrated and packed into individual portions. Nevertheless, a week’s supply of everything can weigh a considerable amount and take up a lot of space in a backpack, although the weight and space taken immediately starts reducing. 

On this walk, I decided to resupply as I went, having ascertained which places I went through had a shop. In this way, I never had to buy food for more than two or three days. It worked because the route of the Great English Walk regularly passed through a village or town. I generally managed to get what I wanted although I struggled at one garage shop (Grindley Brook) and one village shop (Wark) whose stocks were very limited. Overall, though, this strategy worked very well and meant no previous planning except to work out where I would find shops. The drawbacks were mainly choice available and quantities. For instance, it’s not possible to buy fewer than forty teabags and wet wipes could only be bought in packs of eighty or so.  

I started the walk with a 750 gram bag of muesli so that had breakfast sorted for the first couple of weeks. I’d done that before although I was aware that it was probably an excessive weight to be carrying. After the muesli ran out, I’d buy two or three flapjack bars weighing maybe 120 grams each and one of these, providing perhaps 450 calories worked very well for breakfast and I’d certainly do that again. However, if I went back to my own resupply parcels, I’d make my own. There are numerous recipes online for high calorie energy bars and it’s good to start the day with a calorie boost. 

When I did a shop, I would often buy a pint of milk (whole, not semi-skimmed) and down it right away, for the calories. 

On this walk, I didn’t take coffee bags, just tea bags and that was fine. I found, unexpectedly, that I didn’t miss the coffee and just had one occasionally if the opportunity arose. Apart from the milk mentioned above, I carried a ziplock bag of Nido full cream milk powder, so much more appetising than skimmed milk powder.

I often bought Batchelors pasta meals which were very inexpensive. They really need things added to make a filling evening meal. The best I had was the pasta with ham and cheese variety but I added to it a small tin of tuna and a heap of shavings of cheddar. I’d certainly have that again (and again). 

Lunches were, more often than not, cheese and oatcakes. 


  1. Always, we should give preference to nourishing foods during hiking or camping. Of course, ultra-lightweight backpacking eases our trips. Planning a trip can bring down our backpack weight. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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