The Foil Blanket Experience
The foil blanket. We all have one in the bottom of our rucksack. Mine cost me 99p from Trespass and is looking slightly tatty from being carried around for years; it’s a thing I hoped I’d never have to use, as it would mean something had gone wrong on a hill.
Well, I recently used one; I wasn’t on a hill, and I wasn’t officially on a real walk…but here goes.
I was in the Lake District staying in Braithwaite just out of Keswick with my mother, it wasn’t a hiking trip, just a get-away-from-it break, anyway…after breakfast we decided to have a stroll. Wearing just jeans and a t-shirt we set off.
It was warm and sunny and we trotted across fields, by a stream, around a plantation and before we knew it we had crossed through the Newlands Valley, skimmed the base of Catbells, and were looking around for a drink and a rest, as we’d covered around 4 miles. We stopped at the Lingholm Estates Walled Garden and coffee shop (well worth a visit!). Brilliant!
It had its own jetty, so we waited at the end and jumped on one of the Derwentwater launches to Keswick.
After a meander through the streets and shops in Keswick we jumped on a bus into the Borrowdale Valley, skipped off at The Mary Mount Hotel and had some well-deserved lunch. It was still sunny and warm, so we decided to catch a boat back to Keswick and enjoy the afternoon sun.
As we waited on the Lordore jetty, it all changed. The sun went in, the wind whipped up and suddenly we realised, it was going to rain; no matter, my mum had her umbrella…well she did have, for around 25 seconds, before it blew inside out and was ripped to shreds! The temperature then dropped and I got a little nervous.
The launch was fast approaching and – thankfully – it had cover. One of the people queuing behind us tapped me on the should and handed me a foil blanket, ‘take this, just in case’, they winked. I felt very unprepared around everyone, who were now suddenly wearing full waterproofs; we had only nipped out for a quick walk, and this wasn’t supposed to happen.
The launch pulled up just as the heavens opened; all on board ran for cover, leaving us outside on the open deck. No one would give us a space, and they all sat there in their coats watching us get wet (thanks for that).
My mum had a hoody on, so pulled that tight around her making her look like ET, with his blanket in the basket of the bicycle. I whipped out the foil blanket and wrapped it around me as I sat on the wooden bench; suddenly I was warm…these things are amazing. I felt like the old advert for ready break; I had a golden glow around me. It was a lot larger than I though and completely covered me from my neck to my ankles. Hypothermia was not going to visit me today.
The boatman said to me, ‘The good news is you are on the boat. The bad news? It’s going the long way around’, (thanks for that, again!).
For over half an hour my mother and I braved torrential, freezing cold rain whilst others – stuck outside on deck – mocked my foil blanket. I didn’t care that I looked like an oven ready turkey, I was toasty, I was dry, and I actually felt a bit smug…well, apart from the bit when some tourists took a photo of me to show their friends back home. We reached Keswick at last and stood to get off the boat. The rain stopped. The sun came out. And I took the blanket from around my shoulders and found out I was the driest person on that boat. Smug became my middle name as I skipped up the lakeside – Ok, I leisurely strolled – turning to see the steam rising up off the wet passengers behind.
I can now certainly say that my foil blanket is the best piece of kit I’ve never had to use in my day pack; if you haven’t invested your 99p I suggest you do so without delay.
And the moral of this little experience? Never, ever go for a 5 minute walk in the Lakes without a coat…ever!