Food on the trail

When the overall route planning was done I embarked on the adventure of researching where to stay for the nights. Although as a backpacker I decided early on of course that camping was the primary choice – if for nothing else then it would have been for financial considerations, I doubt I could afford staying in B&Bs all the way – I still wanted to make sure that I know about possible campsites along the way. Wild camping or asking a farmer is still an option, but I don’t want to rely on my luck entirely.

As some stages surely will end in towns I don’t mind using a guest house or B&B here and there, that will make a nice difference and, after all, this trip is my holidays for this and the last year! And from time to time youth hostels seem to be nicely located which I’ll consider depending on my mood. So I’m not especially concerned I won’t have a place for each night, there are options everywhere along the route – a soothing thought.

Then I made a rough estimation – based on the 75 legs I used for calculating the route – how often I will be able to get an evening meal in a pub or so and how often I’ll have to rely on preparing something for myself. The result was quite sobering as I ended up with a huuuuge majority for the latter option. The bad thing about this finding was that I’m not really convinced by all the industrially produced dehydrated ready meals. I think, by now I had at least one meal of each of the major producers and I really can’t tell which of these had been the least unappetising to me. Well, yes, they are ok if I’m out for just a weekend but I knew for sure that I couldn’t possibly live on that stuff for about three months.

I like good food, I like cooking, I don’t mind eating burgers or fish-and-chips and I can do with bad food for some days, if necessary. But the idea of perhaps walking in bad weather and because of that a bleak landscape for a couple of days in a row with not even the perspective of a good meal was quite depressing. In many German beer-brewing regions people tend to say that they can even drink the bit they’d eat, but I’m not sure that this approach would see me (or at least my liver 😉  ) through the walk …

So I decided I had to prepare my meals myself. Not being equipped to dehydrate meals and pack them in a suitable way this resulted in some investments but I think (I hope!) the outcome justifies them. A couple of weekends were thus spent in the kitchen instead of going out for a walk, and this meant I missed some really beautiful cold, dry winter days *sigh* But the result of these efforts are 69 ready meals, being vacuum-packed in the quantity *I* want, cooked and spiced the way *I* like it. As I don’t think I’ll have time to do another food preparation day I’ll perhaps top the number up with some of these ready-made bags, but on the other hand I’m not sure I’ll need more than the ones I have – especially as I intend to live on Cornish pasties and cream tea for the first two weeks at least 🙂

In addition, I’ll stick to oat flakes bars, dried fruit bars and the like along with some fresh stuff and milk (very important to me, I simply can’t live without!) to buy along the way for immediate consumption – following the rule “see it, buy it, eat it, don’t carry it”. And I’m afraid the then still missing calories will have to come from chocolate and beer (but don’t tell my doctor, will you?). As I’ve said: It’s still my holidays and I won’t behave like an ascetic denying myself all the fun! With such a long walk I think that’s really important to stay motivated.

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