The Salt Path: A Memoir

by Raynor Winn

Paperback, 2019

Call number

305.569 WIN


Penguin Books (2019), 288 pages


"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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SandDune
In 2013 Raynor Winn and her husband Moth lost a court case over debts arising from an investment in a friend’s company that had gone wrong, and their house was taken in payment for the debts. But their house, a Welsh farmhouse which they had restored from dereliction, was also their means of earning a living, with rental income coming from the farm buildings now rented out as holiday lets. So they were both homeless and unemployed. And within a week life had dealt them another blow as they received the final diagnosis for symptoms which had been troubling Moth for some time: corticobasal degeneration, a degenerative disease for which there is no treatment, and which usually leads to paralysis and death within a few years.. And so a week later, hiding under the stairs as the bailiffs banged on the door, completely unable to process the sudden changes to her life, Raynor suddenly suggested to her husband that they should walk the South West Coastal path, that it would allow them the time to come to terms with what had happened to them.

But walking the 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path, from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset is no easy matter, especially when one party is seriously ill with a rare degenerative disease. With only a couple of hundred pounds salvaged from the ruin of their life they were unable to buy the sort of equipment that serious walking needs, and the amount of equipment they could take was further hampered by Moth’s physical limitations. They calculated that they would have only £40 a week in benefits to live on, a figure which was frequently reduced. Even the cheapest campsites were too expensive if they also wanted to eat, so they decided to wild camp wherever they could find a secluded spot.

And so they set off, trudging very slowly up the first large hill out of Minehead, and up and down and up and down as the path climbed down to the sea and back up to the cliffs again and again. Frequently cold, hungry, and wet they plodded on as summer turned into autumn. But despite all the physical hardships, one of the hardest things that they faced was the reaction of other people when they discovered that the couple was homeless. Backpackers were an acceptable part of the scenery, but homeless backpackers were to be avoided at all costs...

This is a marvellous book, which I strongly recommend.
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LibraryThing member oldblack
Inspirational? I'm not so sure. Depressing, yes. This book is a story of two people in a nearly hopeless situation who, at the end of a long, long walk, find some hope. They find out what it's like to be homeless in the Tory governed UK in the 21st century. I found this book not to be as inspiring as other people apparently have, because it seemed like only a matter of luck that the story didn't end in a sad and lonely place. One of the pair, Moth, probably has a terminal degenerative brain disease (CBD) and his moments of improvement seem to be seen as being due to his own strength of purpose, somehow connected to the long walk. A more likely explanation seems, as stated by the medical consultant who gave them the provisional diagnosis before they set out on the walk, that Moth seems to have a disease that is not following the common pattern for CBD. Maybe he doesn't actually have CBD or maybe he'll simply take a bit longer to die. In any case, life will remain tough for those who are homeless and aren't blessed with a partner with good writing skills.… (more)
LibraryThing member lisapeet
An oddly affecting hiking memoir, which always sound so formulaic, but the setup here is that the author and her husband lost their home (which was also their livelihood) as part of a bad investment at the same time he was diagnosed with a terminal disease, so they just said fuck it and decided to walk the 630-mile path around the southwesternmost tip of England with not-great gear and almost no money. Which sounds like it could be all kinds of trite, but it was good—I liked it, anyway. Wynn has a very low-key style, and it feels more like a story you'd tell someone than a self-consciously literary effort. The fact that they weren't hobbyist hikers made it interesting—they were effectively homeless, and apparently looked it too, and people reacted accordingly. She doesn't go too deep into the civics of that, which I think was wise—as dire as their situation was, what they were doing was still a choice—but there was a certain desperation to what they were about. And it's more hopeful than dark, for all that. I suspect this just hit me at the right time, but I liked it and feel a bit soothed for having read it.… (more)
LibraryThing member BeyondEdenRock
When this book first caught my eye I picked it up and but it down again, because I thought that the story it had to tell might pull me down at a time when I needed to be lifted up; but a warm recommendation and the news that the author would be appearing at my local literary festival sent me back to the bookshop to buy a copy.

It was a wonderful investment!

A story of people who had more than their fair share of trial, but who fought back by realising what was important in life and living their lives accordingly!

Raynor Winn’s husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness; the couple lost a court case and incurred massive debts that would swallow up everything they owned, because the evidence that they were not liable arrived to late to be admissible in court; and that was why baliffs were hammering on the door to complete the process of taking their farm and livelihood away.

They hid under the stairs, because they didn’t know what else they could do.

‘I was under the stairs when I decided to walk. In that moment, I hadn’t carefully considered walking 630 miles with a rucksack on my back, I hadn’t thought about how I could afford to do it, or that I’d be wild camping for nearly one hundred nights, or what I’d do afterwards. I hadn’t told my partner of thirty-two years that he was coming with me.’

It was mad but it was the only thing they could do to stop being dragged down by the ruin of their past lives, to not undermine friendships by having to accept help and be grateful, and to avoid being a burden and a worry to their two grown-up children.

The idea was sparked by the book ‘500 Mile Walkies’ by Mark Wallington. I haven’t read it but the Man of the House has and he loved it.

Their only income would be £48 per week, they were homeless anyway, so why not walk the south-west coast path?!

The couple harboured their meagre resources to buy a new lightweight tent, a couple of sleeping bags and new rucksacks; and to get themselves to their starting point – Minehead in Somerset.

The walking was gruelling – especially for Moth, who had been advised that the best thing he could do for his condition (corticobasal degeneration or CBD) was to take life slowly and steadily – but as long as they kept moving the couple could forget that they were homeless and be happy that they were doing something together.

They had no money for official campsites, so wild camping was the order of the day, and it wasn’t easy to find a suitable spot each night, or to get up, pack up and be out of the way before anyone could object to them being there in the morning. Their limited budget meant that their usual diet was noodles, tins of tuna, and sweets. It was tough – particularly when they saw visitors using amenities and eating pasties and ice creams – but they endured and they became healthier.

The walk would not be a miracle sure for Moth, but it slowly became clear that it was having a positive effect in his health.

‘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.’

Along the way he and his wife saw the best and the worst of human nature. Many people when they heard that they were homeless, or when they saw that they looked shabby and were eating the most basic rations, shunned them, called them names and made unwarranted assumptions. But others were supportive and encouraging, offering food and drink, and offering sensible and useful advice.

All of that gave the author a very real concern for the plight of the homeless.

She wrote beautifully about her emotions, her experiences, and about the path that she and her husband for walking. Sometimes when I read books about the south-west I’m looking out for the places close to home that I know well but that didn’t happen with this book, because I was so caught up in the moment. Reading was rather like hearing an account from a friend who is open and honest, who has a wonderful way with words, and who knows exactly what details to tell, which anecdotes to share to make a good story.

When I heard her speak her voice was exactly as it had been in her book.

There is much that I could share, but I’m just going to say that you should read the book and find out those things that way.

There are highs and low, there are moments to make you smile and moments to make you sigh, in this wonderful true story of homelessness, love and endurance.
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LibraryThing member N.W.Moors
Ray Winn and her husband Moth have lived for thirty years on their farm in Wales. They've raised their children there, but a bad investment takes it all away from them. Then Moth is diagnosed with CBD, a neurological disease that will take away his facilities, both physical and mental, and eventually kill him. With nothing left to lose, the two decide to walk the South West Coast Path, a 630 mile track from Somerset around Cornwall's coast to end in Poole in Dorset.
I walk trails in the UK myself though nothing of this magnitude. I tried wild camping (just finding a likely place and leaving no trace) on the Great Glen Way. I lasted one rainy, cold night and immediately mailed my camping gear back to the USA, opting for B&B's and hostels the rest of the way. I have some idea of what they went through walking day after day with heavy packs and all kinds of weather. But there are great rewards, and Ray details them in this lovely story. Surrounded by nature and away from everyday hassles allows one to really look inside one's self and see what you're made of. From the book:
"Things we thought we would never be able to bear were becoming less jagged, turned into round river stones by the movement of the path. It was still a heavy burden to carry, but just a little less painful to hold."
She also writes poignantly about homelessness in the UK and what it means for thousands of people, mostly homeless through no fault of their own. Ray and Moth have little but they always seem to share what they can with others.
One benefit of walking is the improvement in Moth's health despite the doctor's warnings. His condition is nonreversible, but on the trail, he learns to face his inevitable death and help Ray come to terms with the eventual loss of her loving husband.
There are many funny moments and beautiful descriptions of the Cornish coast. This is a lovely book and well worth reading. As she and Moth say in the book:
“Do we have a plan?” “Course we do. We walk, until we stop walking, and maybe on the way we find some kind of future.” “That’s a good plan.”
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
A very different spin on those we think of as homeless, because these two people did everything right, and lost everything. Added to this they find out Moth, Raynors husband has a degenerative disease. How much can two people handle? With very little money, with no where to go except sleeping on friends couches for the foreseeable future, they decide to walk. Taking only the necessities, they decide to walk the South West coastal path, 630 miles.

So this then is their story of this trip, and the things they see and experience. The descriptions and the prose is impressive, vivid. Their descriptions of the physical pain they experience is anguishing. They take up past St. Isaac where my favorite show Doc Martin is made and through Cornwall and it's copper mines, where Poldark is filmed. They have a few run ins with wild life, and meet some quirky characters. They are called old, in their fifties, by many who can't believe they are walking so far. They wild camp, not having the money for campgrounds.

They find out they are stronger than they thought, braver than expected, and feel proud of their accomplishment. The story starts out in darkness, but ends in light, as ........well read the book and find out. Don't think you'll be disappointed.

ARC from Netgalley.
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LibraryThing member sblock
I was in a funk until I read this book and then I got over myself. Five stars.
LibraryThing member jmoncton
What would you do if your life was falling apart? You've lost your home and your livelihood and your husband has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. For Raynor Winn, the answer was to buy backpacking gear with the rest of their savings and hike around England with her husband. It's not the choice I would have made if I were in her shoes, but it still made for a fascinating memoir. She and her husband Moth have to survive each week on only 48 pounds, a stipend that Moth receives. With barely enough for food, they 'wild camp' on whatever spot of ground they can find. On their journey, they encounter hunger, physical hardship and are often ostracized by people as 'homeless tramps'. This is a fantastic book to really ponder on how people deal with hardship and the healing power of nature. As a book club read, it made for a fascinating discussion.… (more)
LibraryThing member ozzer
THE SALT PATH is Raynor Winn’s inspiring story of coming-of-age late in life. She and her husband, Moth, had a pretty good life in Wales, running a farm/b-n-b, when they became homeless. This, along with Moth’s diagnosis of a terminal illness, left them bereft and destitute. In what seemed to be an attempt to seek a solution to their situation, they settled on a quixotic plan that turned out to be life-changing. They decided to walk Britain’s South West Coastal Path (630 miles of cliffs and ocean from Minehead to Poole). What begins as “about just putting one foot in front of the other” unexpectedly morphs into discoveries about some of life’s most enduring lessons: the journey is more important than the destination; Nature has the capacity to heal; movement is essential to health and well-being; to struggle is to become strong.

There is so much local color in the book that one is often tempted to look places up on Google Earth. Nevertheless, Winn’s narrative is highly personal and thus much more than just a travelogue. Instead it is a tale of goal-setting, self-doubt, discovery, and redemption. Raynor and Moth lived on a pittance, often going hungry, and rough camping. They experienced prejudice against the homeless, challenging terrain, aches, blisters, inadequate equipment, and, of course, miserable weather. Yet they also discovered intense natural beauty, and human kindness. The story starts in a dark closet filled with fear and ends on a cliff overlooking the sea and filled with hope and serenity. “Like the windblown trees along our route, we had been re-formed by the elements.”

Winn’s story might seem depressing, but her writing is anything but. She is gentle with herself and Moth avoiding the obvious temptation to moralize about their situation. Although not meant as a comedy, the book is filled with much humor, often the self-effacing kind. The most effective being anecdotes that become inside jokes between her and the reader: how could the author of her trail guide cover so much ground in a day? (does he lie?) Why does Moth remind so many people of the famous hiking poet, Simon Armitage?

This is an inspiring tale that is a light read, but filled with useful lesson for successfully traversing tough times.
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LibraryThing member PDCRead
The bad news came fast, Raynor Winn's husband had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, they had just lost a court case even though they had the evidence that they were not liable for debts and now the bailiffs were hammering on the door to take their farm and livelihood away. Their only income would be £48 per week. It is at times like these that some people would have a breakdown or consider a more permanent end to the problems, they didn't; inspired by the book 500 Mile Walkies by Mark Wallington they decided that as they were homeless anyway they may as well walk the south coast path.

With the precious little money they have, they buy a new lightweight tent, a couple of sleeping bags and new rucksacks and drive the van to Minehead in Somerset as that is where all the guidebooks begin. Moth's condition of corticobasal degeneration or CBD, meant that the doctor had advised him to take it easy and not to overdo it; probably not attempt a 630-mile walk around the spectacular coastline of the south-west. The first part of the footpath is probably the toughest section with the high cliffs and steep paths and it is a struggle for both, but Moth in particular. They have no money for official campsites, so wild camping was the way to go, ensuring that they found a place out of sight, and were packed up before they could be discovered in the morning.

They met all sorts of people of the walk, but telling those that they met that they were homeless would a lot of the time cause a lot of prejudice and they would be shunned, called tramps or worse. Sitting eating a shared pack of budget noodles when other are stuffing pasties and ice creams in, is quite soul destroying. However, there were others who would be prepared to help, providing hot drinks, paying for food, and even a millionaire wine importer who wined and dined them for an evening. One man they met on a cliff path told them about salted blackberries, picked right at the very end of the season just before they turned when the flavour was most intense and dusted with the salt from the sea they gorged on them whenever they could find them. They had completed a fair chunk of the route, before stopping and staying with a friend, earning a little money and starting to plan a future once again. Rather than head back to where they had stopped, they came to Poole and started from the other end walking through the Jurassic Coast back to the place that they had stopped a few months previously.

This is a heartwarming and inspiring story of a couples fight back against a life-changing legal decision that left them totally penniless. Winn writes with an honesty that is quite moving, she is open with her feelings and her thoughts about the people she meets on their walk and the events that led to them walking. There are some moments in here that may make you cry as well as some amusing anecdotes that will have you chuckling. What does come across throughout the book is the inner strength of Raynor and Moth, to overcome a financial situation that most could not recover from, the way that Moth manages to use the walk to improve his health and that being in the right place at the right time can offer an opportunity that can be life-changing. If there is one thing that can be taken from this, it is that there is nothing that human optimism can't overcome. 4.5 stars
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LibraryThing member pgchuis
I really really disliked this book, although to be fair I would never have chosen to read it - it was forced on me by a friend, who thought I might find it inspiring. I won't list all the things I disliked about it, but will just say that while in Polzeath (a place with almost sacred status in my family) the author stole six fudge bars.

I would say that the important things to take from this book are a) never ignore legal proceedings in the hopes they will go away and b) never ever ever appear as a litigant in person.
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LibraryThing member infjsarah
My reading group has continued remotely via Zoom and it's been wonderful that it has done so. This was the May book. I am not usually someone who likes memoirs but I enjoyed this a lot. It's unusual but well written and dealing with a topic that is unfortunately likely to become more common soon - homelessness.
LibraryThing member Mnpose
I think I held my breath for Raynor and Moth the entire time I read this book. Homelessness, aging and fear are all wrapped together in a beautiful telling of a long walk.
LibraryThing member bookwren
Inspiring! Thank you, Raynor Winn!
LibraryThing member ASKelmore
Best for:
Those who like nature writing; those who appreciate quality narrative non-fiction; those who just want to remember what it is list to be outside.

In a nutshell:
Ray and Moth and in their 50s with two grown children. They have lost their home, which is also their farm and livelihood, to a sketchy business partner and a punitive judge. A couple of days later, Moth receives a diagnosis of a terminal neurological disorder. The decide to sell what they have left, store what they want to keep, and try to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path, a.k.a. the peninsula in England just below Wales.

Worth quoting:
“Is it human nature to crave ritual? Is it instinctive to construct a safe environment before we allow ourselves to sleep? Can we ever truly rest without that security?”

“Does it take a time of crisis for us to see the plight of the homeless? Must they be escaping a war zone to be in need?”

Why I chose it:
This is the last book I purchased before we went into lock down. I bought it from a bookshop in central London, not realizing that I’d end up reading it during a time when I craved the outdoors.

There is a lot going on in this book. Not a lot in the sense that plot points keep coming - basically this book is literally just Ray and Moth hiking. But it’s beautifully written, and speaks to how easily one can find oneself without a home, and what people do to try to survive. It’s a bit cheesy to call it inspirational; I’m not about to sell my belongings to go walk 630 miles. But at the same time, it is inspirational. These people found a way to figure out how to keep living their lives when they had no money, no home, and a shit health prognosis.

They are clear about their situations — they don’t have access to unlimited funds and time like some people who choose o take the path. This is what they can think to do while they figure out what to do next. They get some benefits from the government (about £45 per week), so they are able to buy cheap food along the way. But that’s it. They aren’t on some romantic quest to find themselves; they are trying to survive.

Ray speaks about how people they encounter react when Ray and Moth share their situation. If they are ‘just’ backpackers, they’re usually treated with some respect and admiration. When they say that they are homeless, they are treated with disdain, or fear, as though it is catching.

Right now is a weird time. Those of us with homes who are under lock down may be struggling with feeling trapped within it, at times forgetting how wonderful it is to have a home we can be locked down in. There is a reason many countries are suddenly trying to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness - COVID-19 is a threat to their health when they don’t have access to hand-washing options, or enough food to avoid shops on a daily basis. But not having a home isn’t just a challenge during disease outbreaks; it’s not something anyone should have to experience if they don’t want to, and it is frustrating that so many people don’t care about the people experiencing it.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it.
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LibraryThing member CarltonC
Made homeless following an unsuccessful court case, lost on a legal technicality, and with a husband finally diagnosed with a debilitating untreatable terminal illness, no one in their right minds would embark on a long distance walk around Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.
But the author did, taking two summers backpacking and sleeping in a tent, usually wild rather than at campsites.
The result is an inspirational, at times humorous, thought provoking, autobiography with stunning nature writing that complements the narrative of the journey, rather than bogging it down in purple prose.
Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Ken-Me-Old-Mate
What can you say about this book? It is heart reading, heart warming and heart breaking without being sentimental or melodramatic. Its simple honest format will carry you along on this sadly not uncommon journey
LibraryThing member CharlotteBurt
I pretty much devoured this as both an audiobook and ebook in a couple of days. A middle-aged couple (well '50s) lose their home and the husband is diagnosed with an incurable illness and they decide to walk the south-west coast path from beginning to end. I love reading about through hikes, and this one is right in my back yard but I have walked very little of it myself. It makes me want to get myself a tent and just head off into the sunset. Inspiring stuff.… (more)
LibraryThing member Crazymamie
"Paddy Dillion walks from Hartland Quay to Bude - one of the most remote and difficult sections of the whole path - in a day. It had taken us three. But we survived, as we were surviving all the boulders of pain that had brought us to the path. Things that we thought we would never be able to bear were becoming less jagged, turned into round river stones by the movement of the path. It was still a heavy burden to carry, but just a little less painful to hold."

A huge thanks to Rhian for her fabulous review of this one last year which had me adding it to The List. It's every bit as good as she said it was.

The author and her husband lose their house in an investment gone wrong, but along with their house they also lose their livelihood because they used the other buildings on their farm as holiday rentals. As if this weren't enough, the husband is diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration, which is fatal. Raynor (the wife) comes up with a crazy idea that they should walk the South West Coastal Path (a distance of 630 miles). They will wild camp along the way because they cannot afford to stay at campsites. The journey will give them time to decided what to do next. And so they do. What results is a lovely bit of travel writing/memoir that is both reflective and heartening. She shares the good and the bad, the heartbreaking and the humorous, and yet it is not maudlin or self-pitying. It is one I know that I will read again. There is a follow up book titled [The Wild Silence] that comes out here in April of 2021 - very exciting!

"How can there be so few individuals who understand the need for people to have a space of their own? Does it take a time of crisis for us to see the plight of the homeless? Must they be escaping a war zone to be in need? As a people, can we only respond to need if we perceive it to be valid? If the homeless of our own country were gathered in a refugee camp, or rode the seas in boats of desperation, would we open our arms to them?"
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LibraryThing member AlisonY
Raynor Winn had never written anything for publication before this book, and boy was she hiding her light under a bushel. Her turn of phrase is exquisite in this first book, and she nails that fine line of writing sublimely about nature without falling into the wordsmith trap of over-baking her descriptions.

This is her tale of a journey living with nature borne out of necessity. A country girl all her life, she and her husband Moth lived in their remote Welsh farm for decades, raising their children there, literally making the house habitable with their own two hands and enjoying a modest income from holidaymakers who came to stay in their barn conversion. When an investment in a good friend's business goes wrong, they find themselves on the hook for outstanding payments to creditors, and in the blink of an eye their house and their business is recovered by the bailiffs. In that same week, Winn's husband Moth is diagnosed with a terminal wasting disease. With no home, no income and a devastating prognosis for her husband, despite his deteriorating health they decide to take themselves off to walk and wild camp the Salt Path, a 600 odd mile path around Britain's south west coast.

This is a beautifully written book about finding one's self in the midst of the most terrible circumstances simply by being at one with nature and the elements. With only £40 in Government money coming in every few weeks, they subsist on the bare minimum of food with woefully sub-standard kit for the conditions, yet somewhere along this journey as two newly homeless people in their 50s they find a reason to go on, a reason to wake up in the morning. It's what lies beyond their journey on the path that becomes most terrifying in all senses.

I love this kind of book that's part travelogue, part homage to nature, and will be making a point of seeking out more titles from the Wainright prize shortlist. If you enjoy Robert Macfarlane type of books, The Salt Path is highly recommended. I'll be keeping an eye out for the follow up The Wild Silence. This is an author who deserves on so many fronts the success she's now carving out as an author.

4 stars - surprisingly beautiful writing.
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LibraryThing member teunduynstee
Very mixed feelings about this book. Let's start with the good side.

Raynor Winn is an excellent writer. The style is flowing well, never feels constructed or awkward. She navigates along "inspirational" and even "spiritual" subjects without ever getting on my nerves. Mostly because of her straight-forward voice and those of her characters, which is the same, I guess. Even her husband Moth doesn't seem to be a character of his own. The couple feels like one character, struggling with the adverse situations always as one. I guess this is exactly what she wanted to bring across.

The first chapters I really liked. The emotional roller-coaster of a life spiraling into darkness was very well written. I cried at the scene of the old ewe that decided to die. Also the overall slow trajectory of getting from wrecked anxious couple to strong and independent "salted blackberries" wasn't lost on me. But the middle part of the book I really didn't enjoy. Too slow, not very credible (which is of course weird in a memoir), too repetitive. The little story lines that were sprinkled in felt very much like that: deliberately added because it was missing something. The background stories on the regions they pass through were (again) well-written and mildly interesting, but also clearly filler. From the winter on, it got more interesting again, with less predictable plot and some real development in the situation of the couple.

So all-in-all a nice and somewhat inspiring book, but not great. I really had a problem understanding the WHY of their situation. Surely, if you are in such a dire situation, there must be people you can ask for help. I understand that not many friends can indefinitely accommodate two extra people in their home, but I would expect just about anyone in their 50s to have a bit more social capital than this. I guess these people have just been very inward focused over the pre-book years. If you live in a small rural village for decades and raise two children there and then lose your house and livelihood in such an unjust way, I would imagine some support from neighbours and friends from the village. But maybe I'm wrong.

One more thing: there was one sentiment that this book described very well and which resonated with me: the feeling of dread for the end of a journey. Traveling on a long train ride or flight always has this effect on me. Of course I'm on that flight to get somewhere, I don't particularly enjoy being on a plane, but when the destination comes in sight, I always hope that it will take a little longer. I feel comfortable in the known, settled uncomfortable place I'm in and start dreading the uncertainty of leaving. The last few chapters captured this very well. How you can feel anxious about the nearing end of the journey, however harsh, back-breaking and unsafe your journey is.
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LibraryThing member tinkerbellkk
A beautifully written memoir of a couple who takes to the trail when they suddenly become homeless. Their challenges were difficult and navigating 630 miles of trail in sometimes horrible weather conditions with barely any sustenance was an incredible story. I thought the author was truthful and humorous and loved her style of writing. Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
Every once and awhile a book comes along that reaches out and speaks to all your senses, and The Salt Path by Raynor Winn was such a book for me. This is an uplifting memoir of a couple, Raynor and Moth Winn, who lose their house and livelihood through a bad investment. The day after losing their court battle, a doctor advises them that Moth had an incurable degenerative brain disease. Homeless and uncertain about their future or how to proceed with life, they walk. They choose to walk the 630 mile long South West Coast Path which follows the coastline of Somerset, North and South Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

This would be a huge undertaking for anyone but for this couple, their age, financial situation and Moth’s disabilities made this an almost impossible undertaking. The author isn’t looking for pity and she doesn’t sugar-coat the situation but describes all the ups and downs they encounter along the way. This was a difficult undertaking yet somehow this trek with it’s views, wildlife, and freedom allowed them to accept and come to terms with their situation. Even having to cut their trip short due to winter setting in didn’t stop them, they returned the next summer and completed their journey.

The Salt Path was a powerful life-affirming story that the author tells in a realistic, humorous manner. As I followed the story I was googling the villages and beaches that were mentioned and I was amazed at the scenery, but this was so much more than a travel story. This couple totally won my heart with their affection and care for each other as well as the author’s honest and beautiful writing.
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LibraryThing member Bookish59
Love this book!

It's a love story, a morality tale, a how-to guide, a nature book, and an adventure story. A moving celebration of life and soul. Incredibly well-written, breathtakingly poetic, outrageously wise and funny, as well as timeless. A book I need to buy and have on hand to read again and again.

A mixture of Tolkien's The Hobbit, Ben Montgomery's Grandma Gatewood's Walk, the movie Nomadland which I have read and seen, and probably some excellent legal, medical, science, and nature books I haven't yet discovered.

This book is what writing and reading are all about.
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LibraryThing member SamSattler
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a big fan of books written by people who test themselves by long, cross-country trips. It doesn’t matter whether they are walking, riding bicycles or motorbikes, boating, or even driving, I’ve always envied the authors. But now something a little different has come along: Raynor Winn has written a long-walk kind of memoir with a twist. The Salt Path is about the 630-mile walk along part of England’s southern coast that Raynor and her husband “Moth” took on only because they suddenly found themselves homeless and jobless. Needless to say, this time around I don’t envy the author one little bit.

It could perhaps be argued that Raynor and Moth brought their problems upon themselves, but the only thing they were really guilty of was being a little too naive and trusting when it came to doing business with a man Moth had known since childhood. When that man’s business failed, he wasted little time coming after the couple’s home and business to compensate himself for their supposed share of the failed company’s debts and obligations. Raynor and Moth tried to defend themselves in court, but not being able to afford a competent attorney turned out to be their downfall- and at the end, they were left with only a few days to vacate the property. Everything they owned, and life as they knew it, was gone.

Well, it could just not get much worse than that, could it? The short answer is “yes, it could,” and it does exactly that when within a matter of days of losing their home and everything they own, Moth is diagnosed with an illness likely to claim his life within five years. So, with no place to go, and no money other than the minimal benefits they are eligible for each month, Raynor and Moth begin walking westward along England’s southern coast even though they have no idea what they will do once they come to the end of the trail months later.

The Salt Path is Winn’s account of what it was like for two people in their fifties to strap rather heavy packs onto their backs and trudge along during daylight hours without having any idea where they will be pitching their tent at the end of the day. Along the way, the pair endures the heat of the day, cold and wet nights that make it near impossible to sleep, the constant problem of finding enough water to keep themselves safely hydrated, and living on whatever meager diet they can afford. And if that is not already bad enough, they have to live with the societal stigma of being homeless when people they encounter along the way more times than not treat them as if they are carrying the plague simply because they are homeless. It is almost as if homelessness is a contagious disease.

Bottom Line: Sad as The Salt Path is, for this reader the saddest part of all is the way that their fellow citizens treat Ray and Moth as soon as they learn that the couple are not voluntary hikers/campers out on some lark. This is particularly disappointing when the penny drops in the middle of a conversation and Ray and Moth’s new “friends” abruptly excuse themselves and leave the area as quickly as their feet can carry them away. The Salt Path has a sequel titled The Wild Silence, but I’m not sure that I’m up to reading that one just yet.
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0143134116 / 9780143134114
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