The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
The Salt Path was part of my birthday present from one of my daughters. I had seen an interview with Raynor Winn on television, so I was especially keen to read the book. Raynor and her husband, Moth, had lost everything, including their home when an investment went sour.
Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.
Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.
The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.
The Salt Path reminded me of a book I read many years ago about a rail trip across Canada. It is descriptive, measured and intensely moving. Ray and Moth cope with Moth’s terminal diagnosis, poverty, homelessness and prejudice when people they learn they are homeless. Nevertheless, they manage to survive, largely on a diet of noodles, pasties and cups of tea.
Left with nothing but time, Ray and Moth become time millionaires and begin to walk the south-west path. Their walk took them along the walking path from Minehead to Land’s End and then on to Plymouth. They struggled through pain, exhaustion and depression as they recalibrated their outlook on life as they journeyed.
They did have friends who helped them including Moth’s brother, their friend Polly who allowed them to trade labour for a roof over their heads for some months Through Polly, Ray also found seasonal work with sheep which allowed Ray and Moth to save some money, so when they met Anna towards the end of their walk, life took a more positive outlook.
The Salt Path is not a journey for the faint-hearted and the book is not a story for those of a feeble disposition. However, Raynor and Moth are anything but that and the book is well worth reading. I highly recommend it.
Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She lives in Cornwall. The Salt Path was her first book and became a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and paperback. It was shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Costa, the Wainwright and the Stanfords Travel Writing awards.