TGO Challenge 2015: Food planning

On our recent Daunder in the Chilterns, food planning was a doddle because there were loads of pubs and shops. In the event I carried three days food as I wanted to have a realistic weight for training purposes. In contrast, food planning on the Challenge is almost as much of a challenge as the Challenge itself.

On last year’s Challenge, it was quite difficult to resupply at Drumnadrochit and Ballater. In both places, the Co-Op had only basic items. There was enough to buy as long as you weren’t choosy and didn’t mind some extra weight. Aviemore is better served with a reasonable Tesco’s.

This year, my resupply points are Fort Augustus, Aviemore and Ballater. Fort Augustus has a small supermarket. Aviemore should be no problem. In Ballater, the Co-Op has moved to bigger premises, so that should improve the situation.

Last year, I sent one supply parcel to Ballater, consisting of two freeze dried meals. This year I’m sending two parcels. One to Ft Augustus with three freeze dried meals and one to Ballater with two meals. The only other thing I’m going to include is some dried fruit as small shops never have much selection.

I’m going to start by carrying five freeze dried meals at Dornie, even though I’ll only need three before FT Augustus. This means that if my parcel doesn’t arrive or gets lost, I’ve got enough dinners until Aviemore, where there are some outdoors shops where I can get a couple to carry me to Ballater. I feel more comfortable with a bit spare for contingencies.

Last year, I used Fuizion Food dried meals. This year I’m taking a combination of Fuizion, Trek’n Eat and LYO. Both Trek’n Eat and LYO do large portions. Fuizion also seems to be having availability issues again.

Even with relatively limited selections at the smaller shops, with the exception of freeze dried meals, I’m hoping that it will not be too difficult to buy the rest of my supplies locally. I think it’s really important to support local economies where possible. On my 2012 Challenge, I sent far too much in food parcels.

For food planning purposes, I’ve broken the trip into four sections: Dornie to Ft Augustus, Ft Augustus to Aviemore, Aviemore to Ballater and Ballater to Tangleha’. For each section, I note whether I’m going to have breakfast, lunch or dinner from food I’m carrying or at hotels, pubs etc. Then it’s easy to make a list of what I need. I carry a basic tick list of items that I’ll need to get at resupply points. I’ve found this takes the angst of arriving at a shop and then forgetting what I need!

My typical meal rota is:

Breakfast: granola, nut and flapjack bars, cheese, dried fruit

Lunch: pita or oatcakes with cheese, peanuts, Tracker bars (or similar), chocolate bar (KitKat, Topic or similar), raisins

Evening: peanuts, freeze dried main meal, dried fruit (dates are my favourite)

Drinks: water, concentrated squash, tea

Snacks: cashew nuts and raisins, apples, sweets, Tracker bars

Not haute cuisine, but it is relatively easy to pack and sustaining between proper meals.

I will also be supporting local economies by staying at accommodation at Dornie (hotel), Ft Augustus (B&B), Ballater (hotel) and Montrose (hotel).  Additionally, I shall be looking for meals at Ft Augustus, Aviemore, Glenmore, Ballater, Dinnet, Tarfside, Edzell and St Cyrus.


12 thoughts on “TGO Challenge 2015: Food planning”

  1. Hi Robin, I though you may like to try my receipy for my breakfast energy bars, these are pretty well full of energy, and are fairly lightweight, being mainly consisted of sugarpuffs.
    Energy bar recipe.
    75g sugar puffs
    75g chopped nuts
    150g chopped dried fruit
    75g peanut butter
    85g honey
    85g golden syrup
    Tablespoon of Molasses sugar.
    Tablespoon of brown sugar.
    A knob of butter (optional)
    250g (approx) milk chocolate.

    Preheat oven to 180c
    Line a baking tray with baking paper.
    Mix sugar puffs, nuts, fruit in a bowl.
    Combine peanut butter, honey, syrup and sugar (and butter if added) in a saucepan and bring to the boil whilst stirring.
    Then pour over sugar puffs etc.
    Mix them all in the bowl. Then pour into tray and pack down to desired height.
    Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
    Allow to cool, then cut up into bars.
    Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan with hot water, coat and dip bars into chocolate.
    Allow to cool and wrap.
    Freeze if you are keeping for a long time.
    Makes about 8 to 10 bars.

  2. You are sending food parcels to 3 of the largest towns on the crossing, Why? You have no special dietary requirements from your “typical meal rota” as far as I can see.
    Yep, I suppose it’s safer to assume that all the inhabitants of Lochaber, Speyside and Royal Deeside don’t eat the foodstuffs in your rota.
    Chris Townsend and Cameron Mcneish as well a countless others don’t need food parcels sent to their locality.
    Supporting local economies? Why did you say that?

    1. I’m only sending two food parcels, which will contain (in total) five freeze dried meals (evening meals) and some dried dates. The only place I could obtain freeze dried meals would be Aviemore. Unfortunately none of the shops (as far as I can ascertain) stock the brands I like. Strangely, on last year’s crossing there were no dried dates available, which is why I will post a couple of packets ahead.

      If you had read my post properly, you would see that I intend to buy all of the rest of my supplies locally and where possible to eat meals at local establishments. Additionally I will stay at a B&B, a camp site and three hotels. As far as possible I like to support local businesses. I hope that answers your questions.

      Addendum: I’ve done a quick back of the envelope calculation on expenditure. Excluding rail fares, approx 85% of the costs of the trip will be spent in Scotland. I think that qualifies as supporting local economies!

    2. Ned

      Chris Townsend likes walking in sandals – I don’t. He likes straggly beards – I don’t. I’ve no idea what he eats on a two week walk – but perhaps you do? A lot of folk (including me) have a great deal of respect for Chris’s backpacking & writing, but I fail to see how you can suggest what Robin (or anyone else, for that matter) should eat and why it should be dictated by Chris’s preferences?

      I personally wouldn’t do *anything* that McNeish recommends as he’s probably nicked it from someone else in the first place.

  3. I eat a similar sort of diet to you Robin on these trips. I also send some resupply parcels with freeze dried stuff etc.

    However, I have never quite got the buy o n the walk to ‘support the local economy’ argument. I do so by using pubs, cafes, B and Bs etc. But I’m quite content sending stuff from home too. Shops or internet businesses wherever they are have to sell stuff to survive. Wherever I buy from is helping keep somebody in work.

    1. I agree that staying in accommodation and eating at pubs and restaurants makes a more significant contribution to local economies. Sending parcels makes sense in many locations. It’s really up to individuals. However, I do think shopping locally makes a contribution. Many of these small shops lead a hand to mouth existence. Locals with cars probably do most of their shopping at supermarkets in the larger towns. In the Great Glen, I suspect that most go to Inverness or Fort William. The small supermarkets and shops probably rely on the passing trade of tourists. While individually we don’t make much difference, collectively we are their livelihood. Not surprisingly, small shops don’t carry a big selection, so it makes sense to send ahead stuff that either isn’t available (freeze dried food) or likely to be hard to get (in my case dried dates!).

  4. Hi Ned,

    I hope you’ve been back to read the reactions to your comment. If you have a reply, I’m happy to publish it.

    1. Hello again,
      Illness has interupted my normal routines, but the bad news is that I will probably survive.
      I suppose it is part of the “planning” for a 2 week trip that you will factor these things in. It simply seemed illogical to me to re-supply at the major population centres on a crossing (excepting Inverness and The Fort). Re-supplying at a more remote location is perfectly understandable but re-supplying at fairly large towns with good shops seemed strange to me.
      What sandals, beards, Chris Townsend’s diet and alleged plagiarism by C McNeish has to do with my comment is, quite frankly, beyond me.
      I simply stated that Messrs Townsend and McNeish don’t send food parcels to their locality, i.e. the area where they stay, sorry reside, in not Scottish English. I stand to be corrected here, but I doubt if Chris Townsend arranged for food parcels to be sent to any of your planned pick up points. But I wasn’t involved in his logistics planning, so I could be well off the mark.
      I sincerely hope that your wish to make a meaningful contribution to local economies is successful, but to be blatantly honest with you, to put that in as a closing paragraph in your post, almost as an after thought, came over as rather patronising. Better left unsaid, methinks.
      I hope that you have an enjoyable crossing. The hills are absolutely plastered with snow just now, even as far south as my “local” hills of Crianlarich/Lawers, but with a week to go, a lot can change.

      1. Hi Ned,

        If you read my post properly, my supply parcels contain freeze dried meals, which are unobtainable in Ft Augustus and Ballater, which is where my food parcels are going to. I’ve also included some dried fruit and nuts, as last year I found them difficult to obtain anywhere but Aviemore. Both Ft Augustus and Ballater have limited shopping, Ft Augustus, particularly so. Neither of these are “large towns” with “good shops” so I’m not sure what your objection is.

        Aviemore is the only place on my route where I can be reasonably certain of finding what I’d like. Nevertheless, as with last year, I shall endeavour to get the rest of my needs from what is available.

        I don’t know why you are objecting to me sending a couple of small food parcels containing modest supplies. As John has stated, Chris Townsend has used food parcels, as do many other Challengers. It’s really up to them (and me) to judge what is appropriate for their route.

        As for suggesting that I’m being “patronising” I think that reveals more about your character and state of mind than mine. I can’t understand why you have taken such offence at an uncontroversial post on how I plan to feed myself on this year’s Challenge.

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