Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review - Real Turmat Cod in Curry Sauce

Product Review

I was recently invited to be on the 'tasting panel' by Basecamp Foods. The deal is that they send me a free meal and I write an honest review. Seems fair enough. They sent me my first meal a few weeks ago and having no wild camps imminently planned, I took it on a recent campervan holiday in the Lakes.

Real Turmat is a brand that I've heard of via the @basecampfood twitter account, but I have never tried any of their meals. Its essentially a freeze dried meal similar to many others that I've used but this particular brand uses a vacuum pack to minimise packing size/weight and improve shelf life. This one was dated 2021 and weighed 101g on my scales (manufactures dry weight is quoted as 85g).

101 grams 

I like the vacuum pack. It feels as firm as a brick which gives confidence that it can be crammed into the corner of a rucksack with the assurance that its unlikely to tear. It definitely feels like a stronger format that the loose freeze dried packaging that I've used previously. The only disadvantage is that its not easy to read the instructions as the pack is so crinkly. Thankfully, its not rocket science though.

The pack has 2 tear lines. The top one is torn so as to open it for filling with your boiling water. Just under this tear line is a grip seal which is then closed to keep the heat in for the required 8 minutes while the meal rehydrates. There is a water level marker on the outside of the package. Personally I found this a bit awkward to line up. It is however preferable to the system I've used previously where you have to add a certain volume of water which can be difficult to measure accurately when out in the field. In my opinion, a marker line inside the pack would be the perfect system.

Vacuum Packaging

After 8 mins, you can then undo the grip seal and your meal is ready. You can use the lower tear line if you want a shallower package for eating out of. In this way you can use a normal size spork and still reach right to the bottom without dousing your knuckles. You would otherwise need a long handled spoon.

Looks good / Tastes good


I must admit to being a bit dubious about a dehydrated cod curry but it was actually very nice. It reconstituted really well despite me probably using slightly less water than would be ideal (see previous comment about getting the water level right). The consistency was good. There was a nice mix of cod and potato/veg/sauce. The cod tasted great. The pack was easy to handle and stood up by itself due to the flat base. My only complaint was that is was a bit bland for my taste. A hotter curry flavour would have been more tasty for me but that's a personal preference. Overall though, this was a really nice meal which I would be more than happy to have again. At £9.99 its certainly not cheap but the quality is markedly higher than similar meals I've had around the £7 to £8 price point. I have had some shockingly bad freeze dried meals over the years but this one is right up there with the very best. I would be interested to try some of the other meals from this brand - a chicken curry would be nice please dear Basecamp Foods :-)

Nutritional info is as follows :- Energy 1615kj / 386 kcal, Protein 19g, Carbohydrate 34g, Sugar 4.6g, Fat 19g, Saturated Fat 5g, Salt 3.6g.


This product was sent to me free of charge from There was no obligation to write a favourable review. My review is honest and independent.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A High Level Circuit of the Greenup Valley

Date: 9th June 2018
Start/Finish: Rosthwaite
Wainwrights: Eagle Crag (1706 feet), Sergeant's Crag (1873 feet), Ullscarf (2382 feet), Great Crag (1726 feet), Grange Fell (1345 feet)
Distance: 12.5 miles
Time Taken: 8 Hours
Social Hiking Link

The route: Anticlockwise from Rosthwaite

This is a walk best served hot. Preferably at the end of a long hot summer so the squelchy quagmire around the Ullscarf plateau has had a chance to dry out. I took a gamble today as it's been unusually dry in the Lakes over the past 6 weeks.

I parked near Rosthwaite and walked along the Cumbria Way as far the Langstrath valley, and then followed the dry stone wall steeply up the lower flanks of Eagle Crag. From this side, Eagle Crag looks steep and impenetrable but there is one line of weakness which Wainwright's pictorial guide illustrates in detail and which I had studied the night before. As is happens, the many feet that have since trodden this route have carved a path that is fairly easy to follow. The key to accessing the upper crags is a short, steep gulley which the book describes well. From the top of this gulley, a path then zig-zags along a series of heather clad terraces before emerging onto the craggy summit. The view is good in all directions but especially back down to Stonethwaite, and over to Sergeant's Crag.

Bessyboot over Stonethwaite Beck from the Cumbria Way

First glimpse of Eagle Crag

Eagle Crag from the foot of the Langstrath Valley

Views back down the valley from the early ascent 

First view of Sergeant's Crag

The path along the upper terraces

Superb views along the length of the Langstrath Valley

Eagle Crag summit

Summit view towards Sergeant's Crag

A well used path links Eagle Crag to Sergeant's Crag, as it would be criminal not to visit both summits. Seargent's Crag offers superb views along the length of the Langstrath valley and little grassy patch off to one side made a great lunch spot.

Sergeant's Crag summit, looking back to Eagle Crag

View of High Raise from Sergeant's Crag

I walked over the head of the Greenup valley and around to Greenup Edge before following the path up onto Ullscarf. The summit is a dreary flat peat hag offering reasonable distant views but the foreground is robbed of interest by the expansive plateau.

The path up to Ullscarf

Ullscarf summit

From Ullscarf, Great Crag looks a long way away and the intervening landscape is undulating and difficult to negotiate. I decided to head over High Saddle and Low Saddle and then take a direct pathless route over the peat hags and grass tussocks towards High Crag. In anything but a dry spell, I can imagine this terrain being a boggy torment. Thankfully it was largely dry underfoot but it drizzled for most of the way, which was quite refreshing on this otherwise hot and windless day.

Views down to High Saddle and Low Saddle

Low Saddle views towards Great Crag

Views back over the Greenup valley towards Eagle Crag and Sergeant's Crag

An unexpected gem on this walk was the lovely Dock Tarn. It's a really picturesque little tarn made even more delightful by the clusters of white lilies in flower at this time of year.  

Dock Tarn

A short climb from the main path finds the summit of Great Crag. From up here it seems like a strange name as the crags don't appear particularly 'great'. They are hidden to the summit walker and visible only from the Borrowdale valley below. A more suitable name would perhaps be 'Heather Crag', as the summit is adorned with the stuff.

For tired legs it's a morale sapping view over more undulating terrain towards Grange Fell, which looks a long way away.

Great Crag summit 

Views back to Ullscarf

Unfortunately a larger degree of altitude than hoped is lost between Great Crag and Grange Fell but the walk is made considerably more interesting by the views over to Seathwaite and Great Gable.

A steep climb up a good path finds the summit of Grange Fell, which confusingly is called 'Brund Fell' on the map. OS seem to describe Grange Fell as a triangular kilometre of high ground with 3 separate peaks at each point; Brund Fell, Kings Howe and Ether Knott. Brund Fell is the highest point and therefore represents the summit of Grange Fell. 

Views towards Seathwaite

Brund Fell summit 
I thought I might pay a visit to Kings Howe on my way down as it didn't seem too far out of the way, and this fell is what most people assume is Grange Fell when seen from the road along the Borrowdale valley. 

Kings Howe summit views over Derwent Water

Castle Crag and High Spy

Views over Borrowdale towards Glaramara

A bracken invaded path then leads steeply down through the trees back to the road. I can image this would be lovely route upwards in autumn.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mellbreak from Loweswater

Mellbreak - from Scalehill Bridge

Date: 17th May 2018
Start/Finish: Park Bridge, Loweswater.
Wainwrights: Mellbreak (1676 feet)
Distance: 6.6 miles
Time Taken: 3 Hours 30 mins
Click here for Social Hiking Link

The route - anti-clockwise from Park Bridge (top)

It has been almost 12 months since I was last in the fells. A big work project has been a somewhat all consuming but is finally starting to slacken off. And so for the first time in ages, I had some free time and a nice forecast, which is always a glorious combination of events. Mellbreak has been on the radar for a while but this is really a fell that must be climbed in fair weather. Not just because of the superb views but because it involves a fairly steep ascent that can involve the use of hands and feet on occasion. I had planned on climbing it from the Buttermere side of the fell but a perusal of Wainwrights pictorial guide revealed that this is not recommended, as the best views are behind you for the bulk of the climb. Far better, apparently, is an ascent from the Loweswater side which he argues is much more interesting and saves the best views for the descent towards Buttermere. Having now climbed the fell, I would have to agree.

From Park Bridge, a path skirts the lower flanks of Mellbreak before turning abruptly upwards along a scree track. It then weaves its way up through Raven Crag to eventually emerge onto a lovely little promontory that reveals expansive views along the length of Crummock Water. An ideal spot for a pause before the loins are girded for the final push up onto the summit plateau.

Mellbreak from near Park Bridge

Views back towards Loweswater

Low Fell and Fellbarrow from the flanks of Mellbreak

Views over to Grasmoor and Whiteside from the steep path

Views from the promontory over to Rannerdale ...

... and Grasmoor / Whiteside

Mellbreak has a north and south summit which are almost the same height, although the latter is marginally higher and therefore the true top. In between is a wide depression about a kilometer in length and peaty underfoot. The best views require a short wander from the south summit over to the Crummock Water side. Here, is the ideal lunch spot.

Mellbreak north summit views to Loweswater ...

... and over to the south summit

Mellbreak south summit views towards Red Pike

Lunch spot views over Crummock Water towards Grasmoor, ...

... Rannerdale, ...

... and Buttermere

A steep descent over Scale Knott emerges by Far Ruddy Beck which is then followed down to Crummock Water. A lovely lakeside path can then be followed along the banks of Crummock water with superb views over to Rannerdale and Grasmoor. I had the company of Cuckoo, hidden somewhere in the trees by High Park, for this pleasant stroll back to the car.

Looking along Crummock Water and Buttermere towards Fleetwith Pike

Looking down on Rannerdale Knotts

The forwards view for most of the descent

Back to Crummock water

The Low Ling Crag peninsula

The lovely lakeside path back to the car