The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Snowdrop

The true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with 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, through 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 and life-affirming journey. Powerfully written and unflinchingly honest, The Salt Path is ultimately a portrayal of home—how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.

Do you think you could come to a point in your life where you lose your home? Could that happen? How could it be possible? Was it irresponsible? Could you just take off and wild camp with very few plans? For that matter is hiking and wild camping along the 630 mile coastal path near Cornwall even a plan?

Each of these thoughts were a few of those running through my mind when I began this memoir by Raynor Winn. The story seemed far-fetched to me. What couple, at fifty years of age, would decide to take off to hike a trail with very little money and backpacks on their backs. Packs that I’m sure I couldn’t even carry. Just take off and leave the area they had lived in, the familiarity of their surroundings, and their family.

But all the while this fog of questions was swirling around my head, the author snuck up on me. She snatched up my interest, and I was off and running with a book I couldn’t put down. I’m not even sure how to explain it to you. It’s well written and the reading flows well. It is not a descriptive account of the beautiful coastal path of Wales. There isn’t even a map in the book to give you an idea of the beautiful, rugged places and the quaint villages this National Trail passes. It is more the bare bones story of two people trying to hike a 630 mile path while knowing one of them is very sick and both hoping that a plan will come to them in the end. At times it seemed as if it couldn’t be non-fiction. I was on the edge of my seat, hanging on at every twist and turn. As sad as could be that they couldn’t afford a lovely cream tea in a small village. Horrified that they had to walk wet for days or couldn’t shower for weeks at a time.

This is an extraordinary book. It is an honest accounting of a search for “what’s next.” Sometimes we fall into trouble, and we aren’t sure what step to take. That’s what this book is about. It most certainly isn’t something I would decide to do, but I loved reading about the experience.

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