I push I push I push, twisting with the small path, in the groove that other walkers have made before me, grasses brushing my ankles, nipping the bud growths from fresh green brambles that attempt to hang across my way. Most of the time the cliff falls away to my right side, down to jagged rocks submitting to the wash of the turquoise water. The sun beats down, I walk on, sweating, push forward, don't stop.
I have no bag today, this is my chance to make good mileage, hours ahead of me and all I have to fill them is step upon step. I pick a spot on the map, St Martins Haven, Freshwater East, Amroth and set myself the task of reaching it before the days end, before sun down, before my friendly host comes to pick me up. It means walking fast, for hours without stopping - twisting my hips from side to side to bend around people, slower walkers without missions, curves in the path, bending forward to ascend slopes without slowing my pace, pushing up on strong thighs to climb the steps out of yet another idyllic small harbour.
I pass the beaches, look down at the small coves with solitary trails of footsteps, inviting hours to be slept away or spent exploring, meandering over smooth sands, staring into rockpools, teasing your fingers over the pull of tiny tentacles. I see all that, the leisurely hours I could spend, and I pass by, no time for detours.
I smear suncream onto reddening skin, a fruitless labour, it will sweat away again, leaving me burning, blistered.
I walk past small cafes, past wind shelters, sandcastles, dogs racing over tennis balls, shaded walkways and crowded caravan parks. Past headlands, sediment layers jutting and folding into the sea. Past islands, past jettys, past speedboats and tinkling boatyards, jovial boatowners, pensioners clipping flowers in quiet suburbs, lawn strimming, boat scraping, bringing shopping in from the car. Crying children, sunburnt children, children running scampering into the sea, an entire family wearing jeans and hoodies wade into the water, one rounded mother, arms crossed, waits at the waters edge.
A wrinkled woman in a headscarf sits at the beach edge and watches her children's children finding special rocks to show her. Flecked rocks, marbled rocks, heart shaped ones, drift wood, beach glass.
I pass in the background of every tableau, a fat woman, in black, walking quickly on my own quiet mission.
I breathe, I sweat, I swing my legs, I don't stop, today is a 19 mile day.