Book Title: The Salt Path
Author: Raynor Winn
Promotional Blurb: The uplifting true story. A Sunday Times bestseller, shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize.
The story of the couple who lost everything and embarked on a journey, not of escape, but salvation. Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, the couple lose their home and 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.
They have almost no money for food or shelter and must carry only the essentials for survival on their backs as 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 unflinchingly honest, inspiring 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. Source
My Thoughts: This book came highly recommended (thanks, Kerry) as a great ‘walking’ book and it is so much more than that. Yes, it covers almost the complete 630 miles (1 014km) of the South West Coast Path from Somerset all the way to Dorset, but it is the journey of the soul that is the real adventure. While my detail-focused brain would have preferred more nitty gritty detail about the logistics of walking this path, I was not disappointed when I finally turned the last page.
I have often dreamed about undertaking a long distance walk in Great Britain (Lands End to John O’Groats, anyone?), but the unpredictable and consistently damp weather has always dampened my enthusiasm. Yes, I know walking in wet weather is part of the adventure, however if I can avoid the drenchings, I will! Raynor and Moth appeared to experience every type of weather imaginable from gale force winds, teeming rain to blistering sun. It really was a baptism of fire and all the other elements.
As well as surviving the weather, I doubt that I could last 11 days without a shower and survive a week on £9 to feed both of them. I know what it feels like at the end of a long, hard walking day when all you want is a cold beer, a refreshing shower, a substantial meal to replace all those burnt calories, and a comfortable bed. This pair didn’t have the financial wherewithal to do any of these things. I just don’t think I could walk this way or it would severely diminish my enjoyment of the path. I guess when you simply have no other option, both your perspective and needs/wants change dramatically.
Despite this being Raynor’s first book, she does an excellent job of capturing the beauty and harshness of the British coastline. I loved the contrast and culture shock of their days spent walking slowly through the peaceful countryside only to hit a tourist hotspot like St Ives or Newquay where everyone is clean and well-fed.
Raynor has an eye for the environment around her and the sounds and smells she experiences as she walks. Importantly she also has a good sense of humour and is happy to poke fun at herself and the quirky characters they meet along the way.
While it may sound a touch trite, it seems that Raynor and Moth found their true selves as they walked. Not that they came up with any miraculous solutions to their severe financial woes, or Moth’s terminal diagnosis, yet it gave them space and time to simply walk and heal from the pain of all they had lost. Not saying it was easy, but it was certainly beneficial to both their physical and mental health.
Has it inspired me to walk the South West Coast Path? Yes, to a degree. Who do I need to talk to to order about 35 days of consistently pleasant weather?
A very enjoyable read. 8/10.
Author bio: Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. Her first book, The Salt Path, was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award. In The Wild Silence, Raynor explores readjusting to life after homelessness. She lives in Cornwall with her husband Moth. Source
Author blog or website: Not found
Publisher: Penguin Books
Available from: Book Depository for $21.09
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