That’s not long really, is it? I have more or less completed all my planning since our route was positively vetted by 12th November. Our travel to the start is booked, as is all our accommodation as we cross Scotland and for when we arrive in Montrose. I have printed off all my maps and they are tucked away in my Challenge box along with our route sheet and the real maps I’ll be carrying. I think I now have all the kit I wanted for my next Challenge (I have a list somewhere that I really should find and indulge in a bit of ticking…just to make sure) and since yesterday, I also have the main meals and puddings I’ll be taking.
This year, I have done a bit of searching and looking around. I have previously used Real Turmat, which was nice but expensive (even with a discount applied) and then of course there’s p&p. I don’t think I’ve taken Real Turmat on the Challenge, but I have used Fuizion on the Challenge before, which was nice, a better price and at the time I ordered, p&p was free. They then had problems, hence I looked around for alternatives and although they are now up and running again, I’ve decided to try elsewhere regardless. Reason being? Well, although they’re meals were okay, I found some things didn’t rehydrate well (mushrooms spring immediately to mind…) and I found the choice although large, strangely limiting. Even the simple options were too spicy, which I find tricky when I tend to eat my meal then cuddle up straight up in my sleeping bag. It just doesn’t quite suit me.
So, thanks to a timely reminder from Mr Pieman, (I’d forgotten where I’d been and couldn’t find it again!) this year, I’ve tried Mountain Trails. I haven’t eaten a meal yet, but so far the service has been outstanding. I ordered my meals on Friday 28th February, just before 4pm. By 7pm on the same day, my order had been despatched. It was delivered yesterday at lunchtime, how good is that? In the box was not only my order, all present and correct, but two free gifts! What can I say?
The food packs themselves are looking good. They are small and neat by comparison to some others and will fit easily in my pack. They should also be more robust and having had one or two minor puncture issues in the past, I’m hoping it won’t be a problem this year. There is also a choice of portion size. I have plumped for the smaller portions as I tend to have an issue forcing food down when I’m Challenging and hate being over-faced. For the greedy/hungry hiker, there are bigger portions. A brilliant idea, I thought. Another stroke of genius is packaging the rice or mashed potato portion in a separate pouch. I much prefer the idea of being able to distinguish the accompaniments in my meal, especially the mashed potato with the Minced Beef Dinner. Great.
Cost wise, they were very reasonably priced and as I ordered ten main meals and four desserts (light to carry and sometimes I can force down a pud more easily…) I was over the £50 minimum for free postage as well. Bonus!
I won’t be carrying all my meals from the start. I have no qualms about sending my freeze dried main meals to three convenient collection points. As we cross Scotland, we will be stopping at various points of civilisation to buy breakfast/lunch items and to enjoy the odd cup of tea and slice of cake, as is our wont. This way, I get the meals I want but we also give a little support to the local economy, a pleasing compromise.
All I need to do now is pack…