The Salt Path
by Raynor Winn
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.
I wanted to read this book because everyone was saying how good it was, but it wasn’t until I actually started that I realised I had no clue what it was even about!
As it turns out, “The Salt Path” is a memoir written and narrated by Raynor Winn. In case it wasn’t bad enough that Raynor’s husband Moth had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, the couple also became homeless, losing the family home to the bailiffs.
So Raynor and Moth made a spontaneous decision to walk the South West Coast Path, a route spanning 630 miles, wild camping along the way. They had pennies to their name and they didn’t have any plans for what to do when they reached the end, but they soldiered on and kept walking through the blisters and rain.
I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the coastal path itself, and the towns that the couple stopped in for a bag of chips when they could afford it, and my goodness, they love a good bag of chips!
I was inspired by this journey and I’m glad to see that it’s getting a lot of hype. This memoir tells an important message, several important messages infact, about appreciating the little things in life, about courage, bravery and inner strength and about how a string of bad decisions can leave your life hanging upside down.
I also liked how this memoir highlighted the issue of homelessness and how most of us have a very sheltered view of what a homeless person looks like and how they ended up where they are today. The discussions on this topic were insightful, encouraging the reader to think seriously about the true nature of homelessness in the UK.
“The path had given us certainty, a sense of security that came with knowing that tomorrow and the next day and the next we would pack up the tent, put one foot in front of the other and walk.”
I did have a few nit-picks with Raynor’s internal commentary and I did feel that it was a little repetitive at times (although I suppose walking day in, day out is likely to be pretty repetitive!) but overall, this was a really enjoyable read for me. It was thought provoking and emotional and to be honest, it’s made me want to go out for a walk!
Overall rating: “The Salt Path” tells the true story of a couple walking the South West Coast Path. It’s wonderfully written and I enjoyed the narration too. With some important messages, this is a thought-provoking read about taking life day by day. It was a great 4 star read for me!