What's with all the hills? Apparently if you walk the entire Coast Path, it is the equivalent of climbing to Everest Base Camp four times! And I am beginning to believe that the majority of these ascents and descents are in the Cornwall section.
Never the less, my legs are adjusting and my muscles are getting used to climbing all day. The real reason I am out here is for the scenery and the nature, and they are not disappointing. The magnificent coastal views of blue ocean and green rolling hills help me forget about the hard work. I lug my huge pack onto my back and wander through fields of wild flower meadows, gently disturbing the colourful array of butterflies and looking out for rare bubble bees. The gulls call and swoop above, while the swifts hungrily dart around, saving me from more insect bites. I chat to the curious cows and giggle at the sheep that have broken into veg fields.
Down below, off the side of the cliffs, I marvel at the green-blue shadows of rocks under the surface of the turquoise water. Every now and then a seal's head will appear and once again, I am reminded of the simple joys nature can bring.
Seven days of winding and traipsing and my mind has slowed right down. The noise of every day life is far away and the stress of lock down has faded. It is important to remember that a walk in nature can help get us back to reality, the real reality. Not the man made world, or the type of reality you return to after a weeks holiday. It reminds us that we come from the same place as the seals, bees and flowers - we are all connected. Real reality is nature, and it is just there, waiting for us.
Not leaving a trace seems the best way for me to show my gratitude out here. Hiking zero waste is challenging, but it is possible. I am pleased to say, the dehydrated food is working. The first evening I very dubiously boiled some water on my tiny stove and placed hard, brittle sheets of risotto into the water. Miraculously the rice became plump and the beetroot expanded. Although not as aesthetically pleasing as when I made it at home, the taste was the same. I had hiked at least 14 miles on that first day, so I ravenously spooned the rice into my mouth and collapsed into the tent.
When I pass through towns, I do like to treat myself. This is where zero waste becomes tricky. I only get a coffee at a place that is happy to use my reusable cup. I have had two pasties, one I had in a paper bag which I later recycled. At one bakery I managed to convince the bewildered woman to give me a pasty without a bag. I ran away clutching the crust, so not to burn my fingers on the filling. I must admit to having some cans or bottles of beer, which of course I recycle. Other than this, I have passed some amazing veg shops where I have collected some much-needed fresh fruit and picked some huge tomatoes to add to my dinners. Really, if you set your mind to it, zero waste isn't so hard, even out here, walking with the bees.