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.