Hiking Food On Hadrian’s Wall – Menu Plans And Suggestions

by Henry Landon

winter hike on hadrians wall

Winter on Hadrian's Wall. Photo; Henry Landon

In January 2017, a few of us walked Hadrian’s Wall. This is a very popular hike in the United Kingdom, but seldom done in the winter.

Our aim was to walk coast to coast across the country along the Hadrian’s Wall path, carrying all our equipment and food.

This was not a race or a competition, just a micro adventure and a journey we wanted to enjoy.

Part of this enjoyment came from eating well on our hike.

There are many fantastic hiking foods and light-weight trail meals available; but we wanted to eat food that we cooked rather than prepared re-hydrated packs. Leva, one of the members of our group is a professional chef, and using her knowledge we worked together to make a menu plan.

hike on hadrians wall in winter

Coast to Coast in January. Photo; Leva Leveryte

I like food.

We all like food. Great flavours, textures and smells bring us joy and no less so than on a hiking trip.

When I go hiking or travelling in the outdoors, my senses become heightened, my sense of smell becomes sharper, so does my sense of taste.

Hiking food doesn’t have to be tasteless. At the end of a long day on the hills, a warm delicious meal, or the absence of one, can make or break your day.

The meals that I prepare when I go hiking are generally a simple yet tasty affair. These meals, having been carted through a forest, up a mountain or along a river, must satisfy me at the end of the day.

I am no great chef and I certainly am not a nutritionist. That said, I do have some travelling experience.

Getting hold of food that can be good for hiking does not necessarily mean a trip to your local outdoor shop. Lots of powdered and dry goods can be found in your nearest supermarket. These products were something that we actively sought out for our hike.

We had a guideline for the food that we took and it looked something like this:

  • Our budget wasn’t big, £30 - £35 per person for all the food for six days.
  • The food needed to have high calorific content given the amount of walking we planned to do each day.
  • We wanted some variety of meals and flavours.
  • At the same time the meals needed to be easy to prepare.
  • Leva doesn’t eat meat, so each of our meals needed to have a meat free option to it.
  • Weight was an important factor, we tended to use as much dry goods as possible.
  • The food needed to be warming. We knew the weather would be cold and wet, so we wanted to eat hot meals at breakfast and dinner.
  • Fats help to keep your body warm and that was what we needed on the hike.
  • As I mentioned earlier it all had to be available from the local supermarket.

On reflection and 2 months after our trip, we were all happy that these objectives were met. Our food was tasty, nutritious, reasonably light-weight and didn’t cost much.

The products that have been mentioned in this article are in no way an endorsement. They can be found produced by many different manufacturers and sourced from many different retailers. I have written this article purely as a guide and a way of sharing knowledge with the readers of the Frontier Bushcraft blog.

food before un wrapping for 6 days hike on hadrians wall

Breakfast, lunch and dinner for three people over 6 days, in its original packaging. Photo;Henry Landon

Menu plan

  • Wednesday 4th -
  • Breakfast: 2-3 porridge packs each, 1 coffee sachet, squeeze of honey
  • Lunch: cheese, oat cakes, salami, tuna pack, cereal bars
  • Dinner: rice flakes + oyster sauce
  • Thursday 5th -
  • Breakfast: 2-3 porridge packs each, 1 coffee sachet, squeeze of honey
  • Lunch: cheese, oat cakes, salami, tuna pack, cereal bars
  • Dinner: couscous + Mexican spices
  • Friday 6th -
  • Breakfast: 2-3 porridge packs each, 1 coffee sachet, squeeze of honey
  • Lunch: cheese, oat cakes, salami, tuna pack, cereal bars
  • Dinner: pasta (Cuppa Soup, pasta sauce, Spanish sausages)
  • Saturday 7th -
  • Breakfast: 2-3 porridge packs each, 1 coffee sachet, squeeze of honey
  • Lunch: cheese, oat cakes, salami, tuna pack, cereal bars
  • Dinner: couscous + Mexican spices
  • Sunday 8th -
  • Breakfast: 2-3 porridge packs each, 1 coffee sachet, squeeze of honey
  • Lunch: cheese, oat cakes, salami, tuna pack, cereal bars
  • Dinner: polenta + Mexican spices
  • Monday 9th -
  • Breakfast: 2-3 porridge packs each, 1 coffee sachet, squeeze of honey
  • Lunch: cheese, oat cakes, salami, tuna pack cereal bars
  • Dinner: pasta (soup, pasta sauce, Spanish sausages)
  • Total -

    Breakfast: 50 oat packs, 1 bottle of honey, 15 coffees/teas, milk powder, sugar, peanut powder.

    Lunch: 2 blocks of cheese, 3 blocks of salami, 10 packs of tuna, 20 packs of oat cakes, 21 cereal bars.

    Dinner: 1kg of couscous, 1kg of rice flakes, 500g of pasta, 250g polenta, 4 packs of Mexican spices, 6 packs of tuna, 2 Spanish sausages.

    Breakfast

    quaker porridge oats in a handy package

    Porridge oats in a handy package. Photo; Henry Landon

    The most important meal of the day is breakfast. I have travelled with many different people and take great interest in the way that they prepare their food for travelling. Some people pre-mix and prepare their own breakfast bags with cereals, nuts, honey, oats, and all sorts of delicious and nutritious foods. Personally, I like to take pre-packed oats such as the ones produced by Oats So Simple, which are easy to pack and use. I can also supplement the oats with other things while on the trip.

    peanut butter powder

    Peanut powder. Photo; Henry Landon

    I am a self-confessed peanut butter addict, yet the weight of carrying peanut butter is just not worth it. Until Leva introduced me to peanut butter powder, I had never taken it on trips before. PB fit is great; add it to porridge or hot drinks for a tasty protein hit or mix it with water to make peanut butter.

    marvel powdered milk

    Powdered cow juice. Photo; Henry Landon

    Taking powdered milk with you is great for adding to hot drinks and as a cooking ingredient. I repackaged about half the tub into a strong zip lock freezer bag for the Hadrian’s Wall trip.

    kenco 3 in 1 coffee mix

    Coffee. The eighth wonder of the world. Photo; Henry Landon

    There is no substitute for real coffee, but just for ease of use, having a 3 in 1 pack of coffee, milk and sugar is hard to beat for convenience. These little foil packs can be difficult to open when you have thick gloves on (as I discovered on a recent trip to Norway). With the addition of some extra milk powder or honey this can be a great way to get calories and caffeine first thing in the morning.

    nescafe irish cream coffee mix

    A huge range of powdered coffees are available. Be adventurous! Photo; Henry Landon

    Usually I would just grab 3 in one coffees, but this time I wanted to experiment so we took Irish cream coffee with us and coconut latte, which were both fantastic and added a real variety of flavours for us to choose from.

    Lunch

    nairns oatcakes

    The power of the simple oat. Photo; Henry Landon

    Oats are fantastic source of slow release carbohydrate based energy and a source of protein. Small handy packs are a great way to have a quick lunch and get in lots of calories for continued activity in the afternoon. As far as calories to weight ratio goes, look out for fine milled oat cakes as they have more energy packed into them than the regular ones.

    sainsburys's tuna flakes in dressing

    Tuna flakes in a handy pack. Photo; Henry Landon

    Oat cakes can be a little dry and boring on their own. I like to have them with tuna flakes. Small foil packs of tuna are an easy and appetising way to have a hassle-free lunch. One tip to remember is to bring a good strong zip lock bag for your rubbish as the left-over tuna flakes and any other waste can make your backpack smell less than pleasant.

    As well as tuna for lunch I like to take whole blocks of cheese and salami, cutting bits off as I need them. You can get variety packs of bite-sized cheeses and small pre-packed salami but I find on a long trip that this can lead to a lot of excess packaging waste that you will have to cart about after.

    Snacks

    variety of snack/energy bars

    The indispensable snack bar. Photo; Henry Landon

    Now, my colleagues at Frontier Bushcraft may chuckle at this next bit, as I can generally be found with some form of snack bar on me. “Henry’s here! Hide the Snickers!” can be heard often when I’m in the woods. But on a long hike, a snack bar can make a wet and windy afternoon all seem ok again. I like to take a variety of different ones, which led to fierce debate and black market trading on the Hadrian’s Wall walk as each of us wanted to make exchanges for our favourite bar! This was all done in good spirit and gave us lots to talk about on the more arduous sections of the hike.

    Often a trail mix bag can be great to take with you. This is something that Matt Batham will rarely be found without. It consists of getting your favourite small snacks, be that nuts, M & M’s, Smarties or dried fruit, and putting them all in one bag. This brings a pleasant surprise to your mouth every time you take a small handful, and can make you very popular during a tough section of your journey – should you feel like sharing.

    powdered chocolate drinks

    After a long day, especially if it has been bad weather, a warm, sweet drink can bring a smile to even the grumpiest of companions. I recommend keeping a few sachets of hot chocolate in reserve for the end of a tough day on the trail. This can be beefed up by adding milk powder, honey, peanut powder, or sugar for a real energy kick. Did I say I liked peanut butter?

    Dinner

    sainsbury's polenta

    Polenta makes a nice alternative to pasta. Photo; Henry Landon

    Once you have chosen your camp site for the night, the tent is up and the fire or stove is going, it’s time to think about dinner. Leva suggested that we bring a mix of dried carbohydrate dinners with us that we could cook and add flavouring to. Polenta was a firm favourite, very easy to cook, tasty and filling. Be warned, it does swell massively. Always allow double the space in your cooking pot for the polenta to expand.

    sainsbury's couscous

    Couscous was another cheap and filling camp fire dinner. Photo; Henry Landon

    Another favourite dinner was couscous. This easy to prepare meal has been referred to as “misery rice” by my friend on an Iceland trip. But if prepared correctly and seasoned well it can be a great way to refuel before bed.

    fajita mix

    Now for the secret ingredient! Fajita powder for Mexican wraps is light-weight and tasty. Add it to pasta, couscous, polenta, and rice flakes for an instant improvement to your bland carbohydrate meal. If you like a little extra heat, buy the extra spicy mix or take some dried chilli flakes with you.

    layout of brakfast lunch and dinner menu

    After the shopping and sorting of food into meals, all the excess packaging can be removed. This is when some zip lock plastic bags can be useful. I also like to use elastic bands to keep everything neat and as small as possible.

    Hopefully you have enjoyed reading this article and maybe even picked up a trick or two?

    If you have one or two light-weight food tricks that you use when you’re hiking, please share them in the comments below.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Henry is a member of the Frontier Bushcraft Instructional Team. He has enjoyed the outdoors since he was very young. With family in Scotland and Sussex, every holiday while growing up was spent in one of these places. Continuing his interest in the natural world and embracing travel, Henry has spent time in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

     

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom

Thanks so much, that was really helpful.
PS: I share your peanut butter obsession, so this was particularly good.

Reply

Henry

Hi Tom,

I’m pleased you found the article helpful, thanks for your comment and keep up the peanut butter love.

Henry

Reply

Neil Hopgood

Good article with some very useful hints at what can be had from supermarkets to create simple but tasty and nutritional food for not much money. Some things I also use on camp are sachets of instant custard, flavoured instant mash, popping corn, and noodle packs. A great alternative to the skimmed milk powder is Nestlé Nido full cream milk powder. Good creamy flavour and mixes well. Hot chocolate powder added to a 3 in1 coffee tastes nice. Decanting things into good quality zip lock bags (not all of them are created equal, cheap ones fail quickly and easily) saves space, weight and reduces the amount of packaging that needs carrying out to dispose of.

Reply

Henry

Hi Neil,

Thanks for reading and for your comments, some good tips. I particularly like idea of taking popping corn, something I never would have thought to take. I’m not sure how nutritional it is but as a treat in the evening it sound like a winner.

Cheers,
Henry

Reply

John

As Mr Hopgood says the flavoured instant mash is excellent and can be used for potato soup, add a spoon of dried stuffing mix for extra flavour.
Instant noodle to me are dull so I add a cuppa soup to both bulk it out and add better flavour.

Reply

Henry

Hi John,

Thanks for your comments, I like your ideas of adding dried stuffing mix and cuppa soup for extra flavor and bulking up meals. Paul Kirtley introduced me to adding cuppa soup to create a source for pasta and adding it to dull instant noodles is a good one.

Cheers,
Henry

Reply

Shiver

Another great article Paul, always a pleasure to read your articles.
Plenty of good tips and advice on keeping weight down while getting the calories in !!
Keep up the good work
Cyril / aka Shiver

Reply

Henry

Hi Shiver,
Thanks for reading and for your comment. I’m glad you liked the article.

Cheers,
Henry

Reply

Jim

Great review and I learned something valuable-dehydrated peanut butter! It very interesting to consider hiking a historic locale like Hadrian’s Wall. Think I’d hear screaming Pictish warriors and Roman legionary bugles in me sleep!

Reply

Henry

Hi Jim,

I’m glad you liked the article, and that you learned from it. The dehydrated peanut butter is a winner, I can’t recommend it more highly.

Doing the route in winter really made us connect to the Romans who built and guarded the wall, but we thankfully didn’t hear the sounds of battle at night or in our dreams.

Cheers,

Henry

Reply

Richard Tiley

That was a really useful and reassuring article – many thanks.

I am heading off on my own up the Cape Wrath Trail later on this summer and will follow your advice very closely. I am not the greatest fan of fish and was wondering what you would carry as a protein-source with this is mind. Because of the length of time I’ll be in the wilds, I’m also looking for something that is not too cheese- or ‘pig’-based. I reckon to be out for about three weeks, so any other nutritional tips would be warmly welcomed!

Richard

Reply

Henry

Hi Richard,

I’m glad you found the article useful and reassuring.

The Cape Wrath Trail looks amazing, and hard. If your looking for a protein source that is not pig, cheese or fish based then I would surggest some form of jerky – dehydrated beef like biltong or a nut based protein source like the peanut powder I recommended.

Weight will be a issues as there are few resupply points so I would definitely take dehydrated meals with me such as the packs made by Real Turmat or Expedition Foods. Oats are also a good source of proteins so I would be taking some quality porage for a good start to the day.

I hope this helps, have a great trip, be safe and it would be good to hear how your trip went when you are back.

Best wishes,

Henry

Reply

Richard Tiley

Many thanks, Henry. I’ll do a ‘taste test’ on some jerky and other things before I set out – I really don’t want to pack a lot of it only to discover I hate it!

I have factored in oats as a staple of my diet on the trail and will also include some cheese and salami but the biltong will provide a welcome change from these.

I am very familiar with the dehydrated meals from previous trips and will, of course, pack some of them but I have found that the process of a little preparation makes the meal that bit more exciting, so packing polenta, risottos various and so on with things like dried mushrooms and dried soups helps with this; Paul’s article about packing a week’s food into a side-pocket has also been very useful!

I am definitely going to sniff out some of that dehydrated peanut butter – that looks uttery brilliant!

I’ll get in touch when I get back but many thanks for your help.

Richard

Reply

Henry

Hi Richard,

Good idea to taste test products before you go, there is nothing worse than finding that you don’t like something that you are carrying. When I was skiing in Norway I took a load of sticky toffee pudding with me, I hated eating it but I had to have the calories.

Personally I would avoid taking risotto just because of the cooking time needed. Polenta and Couscous don’t need much fuel to prepare. A need little trick that Iain and Paul showed me was to put you hat over the food that you are re-hydrating and heating, this helps to keep it warm during the process. Care should be taken not to fill your had with couscous or similar, this may lead to discomfort later in the trip.

Enjoy your trip, I wish I was coming too!

Best,

Henry

Reply

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