‘Let’s go on an 8 mile hike around Bath’ said Jenny.
‘It’ll be fun’ said Jenny.
Ok so it wasn’t as bad as all that, but my first time around the Bath Skyline walk did remind me just how damn hilly my home city can be, especially as it was a pretty hot ‘n humid day. Fortunately I’d been sent a shiny Hydroflask to try out – but would it keep my restorative smoothie nice and cold, or would I be left with a load of tepid gloop on my hands? (Possibly literally. I’m a very messy eater).
I’m not much of a morning person, but for once I was up early(ish): by 10am I’d filled the flask and by 11.30 J and I were at the start of the walk on Bathwick Hill. The first couple of fields were fine: we picked up a map from the friendly volunteer at the National Trust kiosk (who pointed out interesting things to look out for such as the freaking massive ant hills – which we elected to skip), and we ambled along, chatting and enjoying the appearance of the sun.
And then the hills started.
Thanks to the humidity I was flagging after about 20 yards, and ground to a halt as soon as we got to a vaguely flat bit to “enjoy the view” (read: cry internally). But to be fair it *was* a good view – I might be biased but I reckon there are very few cities in the UK that are as pretty as Bath. The flask came out and J’s reaction to trying the smoothie was ‘Oh my God that’s freezing’ – so far, so good.
In my experience, blow-by-blow accounts of a hike tend to be less interesting than actually experiencing it for yourself, so I’ll just say that the Skyline was the best walk I’ve had in a while. The terrain is ever-changing, from deep shaded woodlands with swathes of wild garlic brushing your ankles as you pass, to open hillsides with views stretching the whole way across the valley, over the rooftops and grand romantic architecture to the distant hazy hills. For quite a lot of the time you feel like you’ve ventured deep into the countryside, and it’s easy to forget that you’re never more than a few miles from a bustling city centre (albeit a small one).
The main route is about 6 miles long but we decided to take a couple of diversions along the way, including a stroll down to Prior Park Landscape Garden where J obligingly put up my demands that she model for me. Factoring in another extra trip up to Sham Castle we actually walked about 8 miles in total, which took around 4 hours. By the time we got back to Bathwick we were a bit footsore and weary, but our lungs were full of fresh air and we had that deep sense of satisfaction you only get from good exercise. Or maybe we were delirious.
The Hydroflask also lived up to its promise: when I got home at 5pm the dregs of smoothie was still ice cold despite the sun, and even more surprisingly they were still chilled the next morning (I maintain that this knowledge is the result of an intentional experiment, and not just me being too lazy to do any washing up).
As well as keeping things chilled for 24 hours, Hydroflasks also claim to preserve heat for up to 6 hours. I tested this out by making coffee for Mum – chucked it in at 1pm and handed the flask over at 7. She said it wasn’t piping hot, but was perfectly palatable. Considering she generally likes her drinks on the ‘burning furnace’ side of warm, I’m pretty confident that this will keep my tea or hot chocolate nice and toasty next time I decide to go and sit on an exposed hilltop to watch the stars.
I also appreciated the fact that I could hook a carabiner through the cap and clip it to my bag – very handy as I tend to over-pack and didn’t have any room inside. The flask’s only real downside is that it’s a bit heavy, so if weight is a consideration for you then you might have to forgo the lovely cold drink and stick with the plain old water bottle. I did a couple of tiny scuff marks on the powder coat from where I clanged it squeezing through kissing gates, but other than that it seems pretty durable. It’s not cheap (around £25), but if you’re willing to pay for a reliable insulated flask then this will do the job well.
Hopefully it won’t be another 23 years before my next trip round Bath’s Skyline – and I’ll probably take the Hydroflask along too.
The Hydroflask was provided by SpringPR for me to test. All opinions are my own.