I’m strolling alongside a sandy path by way of a forest excessive above the flashing kingfisher-coloured coast. It smells of scorching pine and wild rosemary. The sound of bells deep within the wooden stops me in my tracks. Have I lastly misplaced my thoughts, after months of piloting solo by way of the pandemic on this small island removed from house?From between the timber step a herd of cows, as if from a toddler’s image ebook, caramel colored, gentle noses, liquid eyes and every with a collar from which a big bell swings. Thriller solved, I decide up my water bottle and hold going.Signpost on the Camí de Cavalls. {Photograph}: Andy Arthur/AlamyHaving sauntered out of a job with spectacularly dangerous timing simply earlier than the primary lockdown, and ended an unsatisfying relationship proper after lockdown began, I’ve washed up on Menorca for classy causes. They concerned a two-week vacation to Italy in autumn, which unspooled into an unintended journey by way of Europe because the UK’s Covid journey rules shifted and altered, with me selecting to stay in movement at a time of stillness, fairly than return to a different lockdown alone within the gray of my couldn’t-swing-a-cat flat.The Camí de Cavalls was created by Iberian King James II in 1330 to enhance Menorca’s defences. Islanders needed to hold an armoured horse on standby and patrol the 185km path that encircles the shoreline. The trail wasn’t a lot assist although: the island was continually beneath assault from pirates after which invaded repeatedly within the 18th century by European powers who valued its strategic place on the coronary heart of the Mediterranean.Watchtower on the Camí de Cavalls. {Photograph}: Laura CoffeyThe Camí is peppered with previous Spanish- and English-built watchtowers, erected by alternating powers, and bydisused bunkers across the seashores dug as defences by Franco, the Spanish dictator opposed by the island. Franco preferred to carry a grudge, so he denied the “minor island” entry to the general public funds that supported the event of Ibiza and Mallorca, which had been loyal to him. In some respects this turned out to be a blessing, and is a part of the rationale that Menorca is comparatively unspoiled right this moment.For such a small island the geology adjustments dramatically as you stroll round its edges. It claims to have extra seashores and coves than the opposite Balearic islands, and is a protected Unesco biosphere reserve. Even if you happen to’re not a lot into rocks or birds, you may’t assist however discover them as you stroll. Some nonetheless journey horses alongside the trail, however it’s primarily utilized by hikers and mountain bikers, though normally I’m alone for lengthy durations as I stroll.View of the Camí de Cavalls en path to Cala Pilar seaside within the north of Menorca. {Photograph}: AlamyI have grown to like the tranquil low season vibe, the shuttered eating places, empty seashores and ghostly coastal villages ready for summer season. The primary lockdown right here, a yr in the past, was strict and the Balearic islands now have Covid firmly beneath management. The island feels protected and comparatively regular, with just a few gentle restrictions and a curfew in place, though tourism is the principle economic system and locals are nervous in regards to the summer season season, which begins in Could.This stroll is a type of pilgrimage for my father who’s unwell within the UK, or not less than an try to “discover in movement what was misplaced in house” to cite Tennessee Williams. The Camí is split into 20 sections and signposted by wood milestones. I began strolling with none specific intention, and it unfolded as a mission to finish. Now, I stroll a few sections every weekend, normally 5 – 6 hours a day, together with loads of time to swim and marvel.Basilica at Es Cap Des Port. {Photograph}: Tolo Balaguer/AlamyMost of the path passes by way of wilderness, so I take every thing with me. I’ve discovered that Menorcans historically snack on salted sunflower seeds and fried maize as they hike. I carry pastissets, a biscuit a bit like shortbread however even higher. I additionally verify the wind course earlier than deciding on which stage to stroll, heading to the coast in the other way from the wind to cut back my probabilities of jellyfish stings once I cease for a swim. This was a lesson hard-earned: the extra I’m stung, the extra I take note of the wind.One other day on the path and I’m in clover, actually: it’s pinking-red, interspersed with huge, optimistic daisies and rising round a paleo-Christian basilica at Es Cap Des Port, almost midway alongside the north coast. I sit and watch as booted eagles circle and name of their unusual, skinny voices, making ready their nests and trying to find bunnies.I’ve discovered swimming a tonic for these unsettling instances. I strike up a dialog with a fellow cold-water addict at Cales Coves on the south coast, the place greater than 100 burial chambers are carved into the cliffs, forming a bronze-age necropolis, an excellent metropolis for the useless that was extra just lately occupied by hippies. Seems the opposite swimmer lived in these caves as a toddler, and her mom gave delivery to her final two kids there with “simply my father and the neighbour with a knife”.The author swimming at Cala Rafalet. {Photograph}: Laura CoffeyMitjana seaside, about 30km additional alongside the trail, is a extra conventional bathing spot. Right here you may slice by way of emerald water to succeed in its little sister, tiny Mijaneta. For one thing extra dramatic, go east to Cala Rafalet, the place tall cliffs cradle the ocean and the best way to succeed in it looks like a secret. The little path twists down by way of a dark-green forest to a deep ravine, some of the hanging locations to swim on the island. The sand on the seashores adjustments from silky Caribbean within the south to a pinkish honey color within the wilder north, and there are many tiny unnamed rocky coves if you happen to’re after your individual personal seaside to swim nude.Within the west the panorama shifts: no pine or holm oak forests; as a substitute it’s stark, rugged and windswept, simply rocks, lengthy strains of dry stone partitions and stone sheep huts. I cease to tie my jumper over my ears to guard them from the Tramontane wind that formed this panorama. In distinction, when the trail cuts alongside the south it goes by way of little valleys of low stone partitions that mosaic tiny fields and runs alongside flower meadows, pastures with grazing horses, orchards and patches of untamed olives. Son Bou seaside. {Photograph}: vivoo/AlamyOn one of many southern sections I detour off the Camí to go to Torre d’en Galmés, a Talayotic website. This tradition is exclusive to the Balearics. You’ll be able to pray within the honey-sun shaft that lights the nook within the stays of the temple, and cry secretly on your father who you haven’t seen for nearly eight months, then keep in mind you’re British and pull your self collectively to discover the ruined metropolis.Within the wetland behind the lengthy seaside of Son Bou on the south coast, I watch by way of binoculars as a marsh hawk prowls for a distracted duck to pounce on. Javier, the chicken strolling tour information I employed to accompany me on sections of the trek, names every of the birds in English, Spanish and Catalan, which, frankly, is way an excessive amount of data. I cease him when he tries to inform me their Latin names, too.Menorca has 200 species of chicken and it’s the tiny ones that entrance me most, transferring by way of the air like musical notes, folding their wings mid-flight to drop and bounce. I really like the Sardinian warbler, all puff-plump and joyful, though the hoopoe is extra iconic, a insurgent spirit on this time of confinement,with its punk-rock mohican and its looping butterfly flight.Hoopoe. {Photograph}: Dmitrii Gromov/AlamyTurns out Javier is a dab hand at “catching” slender stems of untamed asparagus as effectively, and after an extended day’s hike I prepare dinner them and savour the extraordinary, virtually spicy style of the woods. Quickly, he tells me, the scent of camomile flowers will fill the air alongside the path and shiny bee-eaters will return from Africa, together with pink flamingos and different migrant birds, to feast on mosquitoes all summer season lengthy.The necessity to discover, to circumnavigate, to map and chart has lengthy been a part of human nature and it feels particularly grounding to be on the transfer at this static time, to have a mission to finish. Who is aware of what this shifting-sand world will carry subsequent. For now, the air is fats with birdsong and solar pours by way of the timber. I cease to stare, to drift a flower into the ocean, an providing for my father. Then I flip again to the trail, for, to cite poet Robert Frost “I’ve guarantees to maintain / And miles to go earlier than I sleep.”