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The Salt Path: A Memoir

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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 t 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.


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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 t 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.

30 review for The Salt Path: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    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 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    El

    I really wanted to like this book. The story has the potential to be a life-affirming, heart-warming work and I love walking but I just couldn't get on with the style which, for me, was flat and monotonous and the tale itself was repetitive and overlong in many areas. I felt it needed harsher editing to pare what is a fascinating story down to its core but there was so much repetition that I lost interest. It did pick up a little towards the end but by then I was just waiting for the book to end I really wanted to like this book. The story has the potential to be a life-affirming, heart-warming work and I love walking but I just couldn't get on with the style which, for me, was flat and monotonous and the tale itself was repetitive and overlong in many areas. I felt it needed harsher editing to pare what is a fascinating story down to its core but there was so much repetition that I lost interest. It did pick up a little towards the end but by then I was just waiting for the book to end. I realise I'm in a tiny minority here so please read it for yourself to make up your own mind.

  3. 5 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN* (on hiatus)

    Thank you to Penguin Books who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss. This is an inspiring memoir written by Raynor Winn, wife of Moth Winn and mother of their adult children Rowan and Thomas. This utterly devoted married couple find themselves homeless at the age of fifty. They've spent their married lives restoring a farmhouse in the English countryside stone by stone, which they also parlayed into a family business. They have farm animals, a vegetable garden, and the ability to share Thank you to Penguin Books who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss. This is an inspiring memoir written by Raynor Winn, wife of Moth Winn and mother of their adult children Rowan and Thomas. This utterly devoted married couple find themselves homeless at the age of fifty. They've spent their married lives restoring a farmhouse in the English countryside stone by stone, which they also parlayed into a family business. They have farm animals, a vegetable garden, and the ability to share their lives as well as pay their bills. When they made a failed investment at the advice of an old friend, a court case ensued against the Winns. At the last minute they procured a document to prove that they were not liable in the court case; however, the judge refused to accept it into evidence because it wasn't submitted in a timely fashion. Not only did they lose the court case, but everything they had built together their whole marriage. They would be homeless in five days. As if this tragedy wasn't enough, Moth's persistent shoulder and arm pain was just diagnosed as CBD, or corticobasal degeneration- a degenerative brain disease. If the diagnosis was sound (there is no actual test for it), in several years Moth could fall into dementia and die by choking on his own saliva. Moth was the first one to ever say the words "I love you" to Raynor, and she loved this beautiful man since they were teenagers. Raynor remembered reading a book called "Five Hundred Mile Walkies" decades ago which involved walking the entire coastline from Minehead in Somerset, North Devon, Cornwall, South Devon, to Poole in Dorset...otherwise known as the "South West Coast Path". This would involve walking approximately 630 miles over rivers, moorland, hills, rocks and beaches...and wild camping! So, they stored some treasured furniture, purchased a used tent on eBay, bought two large rucksacks and put one foot in front of the other. Their only financial sustenance was forty-eight pounds weekly, which would be deposited in their bank (a government tax credit due to Moth's recent inability to work) and they could withdraw from cash machines. I love human interest stories about people who triumph over adversity (or at least try). Being resourceful, finding strength you didn't know you had, living life instead of just giving up...this book was all those things. The arduous journey had a miraculous curative effect on Moth. He was advised to rest by his doctor, but the one time they lived in a small cottage (in exchange for refurbishing it) Moth's body was racked with pain. A master wall plasterer by trade, he could only work about four hours a day while in extreme pain. However, once they resumed hiking Moth regained his strength and agility. They had to make little money stretch by eating noodles, tuna, rice- and when desperate- fudge bars. Every morning, they would heat up their own tea on a tiny gas stove. They would longingly watch other people eat large meals with dessert like they were watching a movie. Often times when they would splurge on eating in a shoppe, they would share something. One time when they shared "the best pasty ever made" , a seagull swooped in and stole it from Raynor. They were often hungry, hot, cold, smelly and wet. Finding a safe place to pitch the tent for the night was always a challenge. Any rare but necessary diversions into a city were a problem with extra and often surly people around, and less available options for safely pitching a tent. They would breathe a sigh of relief slipping back into the countryside. Many times people they encountered would approach, becoming intrigued upon seeing "older people" such as the Winns with large rucksacks, and wondering if they were walking the South West Coast Path. They would get personal and ask how the Winns had the time to do this. They soon found out if they were honest and said they were homeless, people would get a distrustful look in their eyes and quickly drift away. Raynor talked about the skin peeling off her nose, the leathery consistency of her skin, and the eventual thin, muscular and toned transformation of their bodies. The first time she was able to enjoy the use of a communal hot shower, she spent a very long time in there, washing the bird's nest of her hair and having a good long cry. There were also several encounters with morning dog walkers as she squatted to perform her morning constitution! There are too many personal stories to recount during this pilgrimage that made this book uniquely special. The one part I did not enjoy was the intricately detailed account of nature every step of the way. Admittedly, I'm not a nature lover or outdoorsy person, but I just skimmed a bit over those parts. Raynor Winn is a very gifted writer, and she will sweep you away like one of the many rainstorms they dodged. I'll leave you with what was for me the most beautiful moment of the story: Moth said, "When it does come, the end, I want you to have me cremated. Because I want you to keep me in a box somewhere, then when you die the kids can put you in, give us a shake and send us on our way. Together. It's bothered me more than anything else, the thought of us being apart. They can let us go on the coast, in the wind, and we'll find the horizon together."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bookread2day

    This is my favourite non fiction book because it's about a mid age couple who tell a true story. It made me cry for them loosing everything that they had worked for all their lives. It also made me cry of how little money they had to buy something to eat on their journey walking to Cornwall. Raynor and Moth had lost their home and their business. The bailiffs came in and took everything that they owned. They have almost no money for food or shelter. With little money they did have they buy a ten This is my favourite non fiction book because it's about a mid age couple who tell a true story. It made me cry for them loosing everything that they had worked for all their lives. It also made me cry of how little money they had to buy something to eat on their journey walking to Cornwall. Raynor and Moth had lost their home and their business. The bailiffs came in and took everything that they owned. They have almost no money for food or shelter. With little money they did have they buy a tent and walk the salt path to Cornwall. Sometimes they have to choose to either eat or use a little money for a ferry. The one thing that went through my mind while reading this true story is how lucky I am to have a roof over my head and food to eat. With all my heart I definitely recommend reading The Salt Path, to every reader in the world.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    Sometimes we need to be reminded how fortunate we are. How precious our lives are, with all the mundanity and the daily routine that lacks the excitement of the great adventures we imagined in our mind years ago, when youth blossomed and expectations raised above the horizon. Instead, we have “this life”. Am I right? Sigh. This is the kind of book, the kind of testimony that is perfect to appreciate what we have; our jobs, our roofs, the people we love and trust next to us day after day, the secur Sometimes we need to be reminded how fortunate we are. How precious our lives are, with all the mundanity and the daily routine that lacks the excitement of the great adventures we imagined in our mind years ago, when youth blossomed and expectations raised above the horizon. Instead, we have “this life”. Am I right? Sigh. This is the kind of book, the kind of testimony that is perfect to appreciate what we have; our jobs, our roofs, the people we love and trust next to us day after day, the security and comfort of a home, even if that is not a physical space. This is the kind of book that makes you feel grateful and at the same time shows you another way to deal with adversity and to beat one’s demons. Moth and Ray, the protagonists of this half memoir, half travelogue, had what most of us have; a home, an occupation, children and a future where they envisioned growing old together in the farm they built with their own hands. Until fate decides for them and sends them swirling into the wilderness without a house, without funds and worst of all, with the sentence of a terminal illness hovering over Moth’s head. What they do is extraordinary and courageous. Some might say it’s reckless, or even insane. Instead of trying to find refuge in the social system or become a burden to their friends or family, they leap off the trodden path and set on a journey of 630 miles following the South West Coastal Path, from Minehead on the Somerset coast right round Devon and Cornwall to Poole in Dorset, with only thirty pounds in their pockets, two rucksacks and Paddy Dillon’s guidebook. They don’t know what they’ll do after they stop walking, but the strenuous exercise and the briny smell of the natural wilderness become their home, and that allows them to go on despite the severity of their problems. Homelessness, hunger and uncertainty take on the main stage, and nature remains the constant at backdrop of the story which makes them bearable. Freedom is to be found within us and wealth can’t be measured in possessions or power. Illness, even death, can be looked in the eye if one is at peace with himself, feeling part of a bigger whole, accepting life as it comes, in whatever shape it acquires. Moth and Ray defied their worst fears and emerged victorious, relearning to love, relearning to breathe in the salty breeze and to radiate with scorched skin and frizzy hair, flourishing in the present, regardless of what might happen when that moment would be gone. Can life become more beautiful than that? “Skin on longed-for skin, life could wait, time could wait, death could wait. This second in the millions of seconds was the only one, the only one that we could live in. I was home, there was nothing left to search for, he was my home.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liina Bachmann

    This will be an unpopular opinion amongst the five-star reviews - I found the book extremely tedious and at points downright irritating. It was not emotionally engaging at all for me. Although it has all the elements why it should and could be: a middle age couple loses they're home and everything they have ever worked for and on top of that, the husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness. So they decide to walk for 630 miles on a coastal path. Somehow Raynor Wind managed to describe all this This will be an unpopular opinion amongst the five-star reviews - I found the book extremely tedious and at points downright irritating. It was not emotionally engaging at all for me. Although it has all the elements why it should and could be: a middle age couple loses they're home and everything they have ever worked for and on top of that, the husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness. So they decide to walk for 630 miles on a coastal path. Somehow Raynor Wind managed to describe all this but leave me completely unmoved. Walking definitely has redemptive and healing powers, especially walking in such a beautiful natural setting as UK south-west coast is. But the description of their journey was repetitive, accompanied by the constant emphasising how brave they were and how god forbid, they were not like "the regular homeless people" and also almost always critical observations about other people. Also, it left me completely bewildered that in many instances she mentioned how she hadn't been in contact with her children for long periods of time. Which to me was just unbelievable - considering the father of the children was actually very ill - not to take the utmost care of charging your phone so the kids would at least know about the whereabouts. Overall, writing 300 pages about your suffering and discomfort is fine, but please don't if you don't have the writing talent to be at least a bit Tara Westover'ish while at it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    At times there was only the walk... Just the walk... The path was 630 miles.... There are true stories stories.... There are adventure stories... There are inspiring stories... There are stories about nature.... There are stories about homelessness... There are stories about walking... There are stories about camping and camping equipment... There are stories about that backpacking... There are stories about devastating challenges... There are stories about terminal illnesses... There are stories about coupl At times there was only the walk... Just the walk... The path was 630 miles.... There are true stories stories.... There are adventure stories... There are inspiring stories... There are stories about nature.... There are stories about homelessness... There are stories about walking... There are stories about camping and camping equipment... There are stories about that backpacking... There are stories about devastating challenges... There are stories about terminal illnesses... There are stories about couples, and families... There are stories about choices... There are stories we learn from... There are stories that expand our perception... There are stories that speak to be heard and understood... There are stories about loss... There are stories about love... There are stories that take our breath away, have us feel joy, sadness, anger, guilt, and gratefulness to be alive... The Salt Path is all of the above! Reading this book was an invaluable part of my own life reading journey.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    After a few pages into the book I googled the author. I had missed before that this is a non-fiction book, a kind of memoir. I thought it was a novel at first because Raynor Winn writes very novel-like. The decisions she and her husband made after having lost nearly everything in their lives are so far beyond how I would react that it makes interesting reading on the one hand and annoying on the other. They run away from one set of problems to encounter another. The struggle is painful and I admi After a few pages into the book I googled the author. I had missed before that this is a non-fiction book, a kind of memoir. I thought it was a novel at first because Raynor Winn writes very novel-like. The decisions she and her husband made after having lost nearly everything in their lives are so far beyond how I would react that it makes interesting reading on the one hand and annoying on the other. They run away from one set of problems to encounter another. The struggle is painful and I admire their perseverance. In my comfortable home I cannot begin to feel what they must have felt. I can see that this walk worked for them. By following the coastal path for nearly 600 miles they manage to face their demons and deal with them as best as they can. Hopefully they will have many years together ahead of them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Absolutely fantastic. This one is well worth the hype.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    The premise is straightforward. Raynor Winn and her husband Moth are in the early 50s. A poor finance decision has put their home in Wales at risk: it’s a small farm/smallholding and they have been there for about twenty years. They lose a court case and lose their home and it’s all pretty brutal with bailiffs and all. Two days later Moth is diagnosed with a terminal degenerative illness, Corticobasal degeneration: “..a rare degenerative brain disease that would take the beautiful man I’d loved The premise is straightforward. Raynor Winn and her husband Moth are in the early 50s. A poor finance decision has put their home in Wales at risk: it’s a small farm/smallholding and they have been there for about twenty years. They lose a court case and lose their home and it’s all pretty brutal with bailiffs and all. Two days later Moth is diagnosed with a terminal degenerative illness, Corticobasal degeneration: “..a rare degenerative brain disease that would take the beautiful man I’d loved since I was a teenager and destroy his body and then his mind as he fell into confusion and dementia, and end with him unable to swallow and probably choking to death on his own saliva. And there was nothing, absolutely nothing they could do about it.” What to do? Especially as they have very little money and although they can rely on friends for a week or two it isn’t a long term solution. They decide to spend their last money on some basic camping equipment and to walk the coastal path between Minehead and Poole. A total of 630 miles around the coast of Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. The book recounts their journeys and how they managed with only £48 per week. One interesting issue raised by this account relates to homelessness. Urban homelessness is obvious and clear to see. Rural homelessness is different and not so obvious and often does involves backpackers with their lives on their backs. Seasonal work often means people do not have the means to keep a roof over their heads. Winn describes coming across all sorts of people who were homeless, often overlooked by society: “They were hidden away, communities living together in the woods going out to work every day. They lived in horse-boxes, sheds, all sorts of ways that people find to live if they don’t have a house.” Winn also makes some very important points about perception and attitude about homelessness: “When people asked how we had so much time to walk so far, we’d explain we lost our home. They’d almost physically recoil — that reaction came as a shock. We learned how to deal with it — to say we’d sold our house, we were having a mid-life moment, going where the wind took us. And they’d say: ‘Oh Wow! That’s inspirational’. There’s a huge difference between how people perceive selling and losing one’s home.” The beginning of the book is traumatic as Winn and Moth lose everything and losing a home is always more than just bricks and mortar: “Every stone we had carefully placed, the tree where the children played, the hole in the wall where the blue tits nested, the loose piece of lead by the chimney where the bats lived,” She doesn’t minimize the difficulties they faced: “The very beginning was especially difficult, not just because Moth was finding it so physically hard, even getting out of the tent in the morning and putting his boots on — but because of the transition from the normal life we’d led a few weeks earlier to now finding ourselves homeless on the cliffs.” One of the surprises was Moth’s physical state. The doctor’s had said it would be a downhill path, but over the walk he gradually improved and became stronger. The illness remained, but the trajectory was different. As you might expect there is a bit of travelogue and a good deal about food or lack of it. A diet of fudge and noodles isn’t to be recommended. Some of the travelogue bits are rather basic and feel like they’ve been taken out of guides. There is also a danger of being a little preachy. This clearly worked for Winn and Moth, but there is no guarantee that this could be a universal panacea. It is however inspiring and very moving at times and Winn makes some very pertinent points about homelessness.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This is a book that I had expected to LOVE, but things didn't go as planned. I first heard about The Salt Path when I read a positive review in a magazine, with the blurb quote: "Recommended for fans of Cheryl Strayed's Wild." I loved the book Wild and have read it multiple times, so I jumped to request The Salt Path. However, I ended up feeling lukewarm about it. Let's start with what I liked about SP, which is that it's a travelogue in England — one of my favorite genres set in one of my favorit This is a book that I had expected to LOVE, but things didn't go as planned. I first heard about The Salt Path when I read a positive review in a magazine, with the blurb quote: "Recommended for fans of Cheryl Strayed's Wild." I loved the book Wild and have read it multiple times, so I jumped to request The Salt Path. However, I ended up feeling lukewarm about it. Let's start with what I liked about SP, which is that it's a travelogue in England — one of my favorite genres set in one of my favorite countries. Early in the memoir we learn that Raynor and her husband, Moth, were dealt multiple tragedies. First, they lose their home in a lawsuit related to a scummy business friend, and then Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Facing homelessness, they decide to turn the tragedy into an adventure and walk along the sea path on the southeast coast, camping along the way. I usually enjoy hiking memoirs and have read a number of them, but there was little I enjoyed about the experience of reading SP. Instead, this book touched a nerve and made me incredibly anxious. If I hadn't been reading it for a book club I would have abandoned it — that's how distressing it was. Apparently I have a deep-seated fear of losing my home and all my money, because when I was reading this book I couldn't get past the anxiety over how poor they were. In one scene, Raynor accidentally drops some coins on the ground, and Raynor and Moth scramble to find them, because those few coins affect whether they will be able to eat. There are times in this book when they go hungry and only have food because a kind stranger takes pity on them. Which brings me to the discussion about the stigma of being homeless. There are several good passages on this issue, and Raynor and Moth both experience a variety of responses from strangers when they learn about their situation. Sometimes they fib and say they "sold" their home, instead of saying they are currently homeless, to avoid being shunned. Another interesting discussion relates to how Moth felt stronger when he was walking along the path, and the exercise seemed to invigorate him, despite his illness. This book has become an international bestseller, which means my negative reaction to the story isn't the norm. Maybe you will end up loving their adventure, as I hoped I would.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laysee

    For the past week, I vicariously hiked the South West Coast Path. I camped wild, lived with hunger, and was battered by sun, wind, rain, and cold. For me, it was simply a fictional adventure. However, for Raynor and Moth Winn, this was their life for two summers. It was real. It was painful. It was life affirming. A memoir has a power unparalleled when compared to fiction. A well written memoir like The Salt Path offers an honest look at what it means to be homeless and penniless. Ray and Moth, a For the past week, I vicariously hiked the South West Coast Path. I camped wild, lived with hunger, and was battered by sun, wind, rain, and cold. For me, it was simply a fictional adventure. However, for Raynor and Moth Winn, this was their life for two summers. It was real. It was painful. It was life affirming. A memoir has a power unparalleled when compared to fiction. A well written memoir like The Salt Path offers an honest look at what it means to be homeless and penniless. Ray and Moth, a Welsh couple in their early fifties, lost their farmhouse, which was their home and source of income, to a poor financial investment in a friend’s company with no recourse to proper legal services. Life was bleak for Ray and Moth. In their words, we have "Lost the case, lost the house and lost ourselves." At their lowest point, Moth was diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease that can cause worsening problems with movement, speech, memory, and swallowing. Winn reflected, “As the lights of our life were going out, a doctor sat on the corner of his table and switched off the lamp.” Their grief was raw and visceral. I felt their despair and fear. In August 2013, Ray and Winn decided to walk all 630 miles (1,014 km) of the South West Coast Path. They set off from Minehead in Somerset with only 115 pounds and a bank card that promised 48 pounds a month in tax credit. A Paddy Dillion guidebook; heavy backpack; light-weight tents; no sunscreen; no hat for Ray. What an impossible journey especially when Moth was in so much pain! I could not help thinking a few times what a careless couple they were. I also wondered, as did Moth, whether this was a masochistic way of coping with homelessness. While my mind fought their decision, my heart wanted them to succeed in this extremely daunting trek. The windswept and wild English coastline was beautifully documented. I can see how despite the physical strain and hardship, living in the embrace of natural wonder can be uplifting and even restorative. Ray and Moth camped wild in a different place every night on the South West Coast Path. I worried for them when they ran out of food and water, when their purse started to empty, when they could not find a safe place to camp for the night, and when Moth became so ill he was unable to walk. In some ways, this memoir reminded me of Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. However, Cheryl was not homeless or penniless. This is utter destitution, and I wept with Ray when she took her first hot bath at a campsite. Ray and Moth gained personal insight into what it means to be homeless. Hikers and backpackers often asked why they were walking. The couple learned how folks reacted with revulsion and quickly moved away when they admitted they had lost their home. However, when they lied and said they had sold their home and were taking it easy, they were hailed as being inspirational. It is sobering to remember that not all homeless people are drug addicts or reckless wastrels. What shone in this memoir is the love this couple have for each other. It is beautiful and most enviable. It embraced poverty, sickness, hardship, and uncertainty. Love is their true home. Even though it was harrowing walking the South West Coast Path with them, part of me did not wish it to end much as I wanted their suffering to be over. I was happy for them that they found themselves and renewed courage for the future. Like them, I was wistful when their walk was over, that there would be no more camping in the wild, no more communion with nature. I will miss the countless cups of tea and pasties I had shared with them. Read The Salt Path. It is a beautifully written and inspiring memoir about the incredible human reserve of strength and fortitude and the sure redemptive power of nature.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This book is about an eccentric, amusing and incredibly stoic couple called Raynor and Moth, who are made homeless in their 50s. At the same time the husband (Moth) is diagnosed with a terminal brain disease. Amazingly, they respond to these crises by deciding to walk the south west coastal path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.....and do so with an impossibly small amount of money to live on. The book is written by Raynor, the wife, and she is an marvellous writer. It brings ali This book is about an eccentric, amusing and incredibly stoic couple called Raynor and Moth, who are made homeless in their 50s. At the same time the husband (Moth) is diagnosed with a terminal brain disease. Amazingly, they respond to these crises by deciding to walk the south west coastal path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.....and do so with an impossibly small amount of money to live on. The book is written by Raynor, the wife, and she is an marvellous writer. It brings alive the people and scenes they encounter on their heroic walk. For me there was a wonderful hidden message too. As you read the book, they are practically penniless. They sometimes stop at cafes to share a a single cup of tea, or a sausage sandwich. They often don't have even the odd extra pound to buy two cups of tea to drink together...and all this time, we the readers know that unexpected success and financial security lie round the corner. The book that sits in our hands is going to be their passport to freedom. Of course Moth still has his illness, but I checked, and now, several years later, he is still alive. They are such an amazing couple, with a huge bedrock of love for one another, and an overflow of kindness and generosity towards the world. It was a marvellous and inspiring read. I'm not going to go into further detail, there are already so many excellent reviews of the book here on Goodreads, which are well worth checking out. Suffice it to say that if you decide to read it you are in for a real treat.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    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 li 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 slowy 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    A couple are sued in respect of an investment debt and lose their home and their livelihood. Having been made homeless and simultaneously finding out that Moth has a terminal illness, they decide to walk the 630 mile south west coastal path, rough camping (illegal in England) along the way and living (barely) on an income of less than £50 per week. This much lauded book was shortlisted for both the Costa and Wainwright prizes and is described everywhere as ‘uplifting’. My experience was different A couple are sued in respect of an investment debt and lose their home and their livelihood. Having been made homeless and simultaneously finding out that Moth has a terminal illness, they decide to walk the 630 mile south west coastal path, rough camping (illegal in England) along the way and living (barely) on an income of less than £50 per week. This much lauded book was shortlisted for both the Costa and Wainwright prizes and is described everywhere as ‘uplifting’. My experience was different. The couple certainly found themselves in an awful situation but embarking on a long distance path with someone who is physically challenged seems to me an extreme response. I found I couldn’t identify with their eco warrior, ex Greenham Common protesting background at all and found many of their decisions, whether on how to spend their meagre income or where to spend the night, and their complete lack of planning and naivety about the journey ahead, quite irresponsible and frankly downright annoying. I enjoy following other people’s walks and that is the main reason this appealed to me and probably why it was recommended to me but I found it unbelievably repetitive to the point of tedium. Camp somewhere daft (most of the time), get up, eat very little or nothing, walk, be surprised at how steep the terrain is (duh! you have a guidebook!), run out of water, eat a fudge bar or bag of chips, feel dirty (because you are), be treated suspiciously because you’re homeless, find somewhere to camp, eat pot noodles, sleep, get up.......... Yes, it’s amusing that so many people think you’re Simon Armitage but that becomes repetitive too. The only reason I’m giving it 3 stars is because it raises serious issues about our attitudes towards homelessness in the UK but that is yet another repetitive theme so I’m being generous. It’s just not for me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I am not normally a fan of the memoir in general, but this one was pretty good. It had a lot of interest for me in its setting as I spent many childhood holidays in Cornwall and Devon and have family in Poole. So everywhere Ray and Moth went I could visualise the sights and sounds and the beautiful scenery. When I read memoirs I often wonder how the other people in the book feel about having their problems and their lives exposed to the rest of the world - or to the ones who read the book anyway. I am not normally a fan of the memoir in general, but this one was pretty good. It had a lot of interest for me in its setting as I spent many childhood holidays in Cornwall and Devon and have family in Poole. So everywhere Ray and Moth went I could visualise the sights and sounds and the beautiful scenery. When I read memoirs I often wonder how the other people in the book feel about having their problems and their lives exposed to the rest of the world - or to the ones who read the book anyway. I felt for Moth so much that I did a quick internet search and made sure that he is still alive and actually doing well despite his awful diagnosis. It appears too that Raynor is a much feted author in the UK as a result of this book. Anyway it told of a brave (or foolish) couple who set out to walk 630 miles of the British coastline with a small tent and hardly any cash reserves. They were much, much tougher than I could ever imagine and truly deserved to be successful. An interesting and nicely written tale, well worth reading.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    There's no doubt that I wouldn't have survived this walk with Raynor Winn, choosing to throw myself off one of the many cliff pathways she describes, rather than have to endure her constant and repetitive moaning about the dice that life have rolled against her. I've lost my home as a result of an ill-conceived business venture and I've had to walk around a supermarket, counting down my cash on the calculator until it ran out and we walked to the till. I've lost my shirt in business twice. Both ti There's no doubt that I wouldn't have survived this walk with Raynor Winn, choosing to throw myself off one of the many cliff pathways she describes, rather than have to endure her constant and repetitive moaning about the dice that life have rolled against her. I've lost my home as a result of an ill-conceived business venture and I've had to walk around a supermarket, counting down my cash on the calculator until it ran out and we walked to the till. I've lost my shirt in business twice. Both times I was the stupid one - and didn't blame anyone else or "the system". I've picked myself up, started again and made a success of life. I'm also genuinely sorry that your husband was not well - nobody deserves that - ever. When I was down I didn't moan about rich people around me enjoying themselves, about the environment falling to bits, about the weather, about poorly designed camping gear, about being hungry, about what other people thought of me, about cities, about towns, about the countryside, about doctors, about, about, about.....gawd. Rarely been happier to finish a book, having persevered to the end, waiting for an epiphany that never came. I wish you both happiness and long life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    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 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

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    A middle-aged couple in the UK, facing bankruptcy and a terminal illness diagnosis, decides to take off and walk the South West Coast Path in the United Kingdom, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Most identity crisis take-a-walk memoirs are from younger, healthier people who still struggle physically, emotionally, and financially, but all of those elements are worse here. They are frequently mistaken for vagrants, asked to leave, and sometimes given food for free (and they really A middle-aged couple in the UK, facing bankruptcy and a terminal illness diagnosis, decides to take off and walk the South West Coast Path in the United Kingdom, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Most identity crisis take-a-walk memoirs are from younger, healthier people who still struggle physically, emotionally, and financially, but all of those elements are worse here. They are frequently mistaken for vagrants, asked to leave, and sometimes given food for free (and they really need it in these moments, so the kind strangers are not wrong!) There is a bit of desperation in the pages. The path is almost insurmountable, but they do not have any way to make a living or any place to live. So they walk. It almost intersects more with books like Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century than with your typical sojourning books. I enjoyed reading about the landscape of the cliffs of this region and definitely spent some time looking up images on the internet. It is a shame that so many of these communities seem actively opposed to travelers coming through, when clearly the path has a long history. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Never has a book filled me with as much rage as the beginning of this book did, the injustice of it all is heart-breaking. Ray starts off explaining how a friend for years invests some of their money, it goes wrong and he leaves them as the fall guys. A disinterested judge working with a failed justice system will not accept a piece of evidence clearing them as it wasn't submitted correctly...absolutely ridiculous...they lose the farm they lived on that was their life. To make things impossibly Never has a book filled me with as much rage as the beginning of this book did, the injustice of it all is heart-breaking. Ray starts off explaining how a friend for years invests some of their money, it goes wrong and he leaves them as the fall guys. A disinterested judge working with a failed justice system will not accept a piece of evidence clearing them as it wasn't submitted correctly...absolutely ridiculous...they lose the farm they lived on that was their life. To make things impossibly bad Moth, her husband gets diagnosed with a terminal illness. Whilst hiding from the bailiffs they get inspired to walk the South West Coast Path, even though Moth has been told to take it easy and to not walk too far....it's only 630miles long. The Salt Path...which I would have called "Old People Walking" :-)...is one of the most riveting books on walking I have ever had the pleasure to read, I found every excuse I could find to pick it up to read a few more pages. It is a spiritual journey, a trial to see how much the human body can endure, it raises awareness of homelessness which is far more prevalent than our lovely Government would have you believe. Ray and Moth experience first hand the reaction of people when they learn that they aren't backpackers but are in fact homeless, the fear in their eyes is instant. There are shocking scenes, there is a desperation that almost makes you cry and there is a sense of humour that is charming. They meet some brilliant characters on their walk, a favourite of mine was the man so happy to see a Peregrine Falcon. This is the best book I've read in 2019, the writing is wonderful and the hope it gives the reader feels really profound. It hasn't inspired me to camp wild though, I'll have to walk between B&Bs on walks of this length. Pick this book up and check it out. Blog review: https://felcherman.wordpress.com/2019...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Spurnlad

    Disappointing. Too much self-pity for my liking. A great idea and a good choice for the situation, but i just couldn't identify with the people. Disappointing. Too much self-pity for my liking. A great idea and a good choice for the situation, but i just couldn't identify with the people.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    It was the worst of times. Just after Winn learned that her husband Moth had CBD, a rare degenerative brain disease, they lost a court case pertaining to their investment in a friend’s failed business; bailiffs seized their house to pay off the debt. They’d relied on renting out their barn as a holiday cottage, so in one fell swoop their home and livelihood were gone. For two fifty-somethings, one of them terminally ill, the decision to buy minimal supplies and walk England’s South West Coast Pa It was the worst of times. Just after Winn learned that her husband Moth had CBD, a rare degenerative brain disease, they lost a court case pertaining to their investment in a friend’s failed business; bailiffs seized their house to pay off the debt. They’d relied on renting out their barn as a holiday cottage, so in one fell swoop their home and livelihood were gone. For two fifty-somethings, one of them terminally ill, the decision to buy minimal supplies and walk England’s South West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole might seem rash, but they had nothing to lose and nowhere else to go; “we really didn’t have anything better to do at half past three on a Thursday afternoon than to start a 630-mile walk,” Winn wryly observes. Camping wild and living off a £48-a-week government tax credit, which just about kept them in noodles, tins of tuna, rationed tea bags and sweets, Ray and Moth cover mile by grueling mile, but they are always bone-weary, hungry and weather-beaten. As long as they keep moving, Moth’s health seems okay and they can forget that they are effectively homeless. Indeed, Winn is deeply concerned about the plight of the homeless, especially after seeing the change in people’s faces and demeanor on the rare occasions when she and Moth admit that the designation applies to them too. She’s learned that “civilization exists only for those that can afford to inhabit it,” and that middle-class life is a lot more precarious than we assume. The details of walking the long-distance path in 2013–14 reminded me of Simon Armitage’s Walking Away – and in fact, in a running gag, Moth keeps being mistaken for Armitage along the way and asked for impromptu poetry readings. Winn writes beautifully about the natural world and the internal, emotional landscape, blending the two with her use of imagery from the salt path. I do hope she’ll write more books. This was a worthy entry on the Wainwright Prize shortlist this past year. [Just a shame about all the dangling modifiers and other minor errors; one hopes these will be fixed for the paperback edition.] Favorite lines: “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.” “The scrub hedge and dusty arable land carried on, flat and easy, our legs falling into a metronome of motion without thought.” “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.”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jodi Rilot

    This won't be a popular review. I expected to love The Salt Path. It's an epic tale of a journey undertaken in desperation, with the dramatic coastline of the South West Coast path as a backdrop. I was particularly looking forward to reading it whilst on holiday in Woolacombe. I was expecting to be inspired by the homeless couple in their 50s setting out to conquer the 620+ mile route. And yet I found myself strangely unmoved. Unmoved by the tragic circumstances that led to their journey, unmoved This won't be a popular review. I expected to love The Salt Path. It's an epic tale of a journey undertaken in desperation, with the dramatic coastline of the South West Coast path as a backdrop. I was particularly looking forward to reading it whilst on holiday in Woolacombe. I was expecting to be inspired by the homeless couple in their 50s setting out to conquer the 620+ mile route. And yet I found myself strangely unmoved. Unmoved by the tragic circumstances that led to their journey, unmoved by the trials and tribulations of the trail and unmoved by the glorious setting. Peculiar. I have every sympathy for their plight, and for that of the homeless generally (yes, even the "drink and drug addicts" that the author so clearly looks down on), yet this story left me cold. I found myself skim reading repetitious pages and rolling my eyes at the pathos Raynor Winn demands. I did not need her to signpost me to feel sorry for her - the situation was heartbreaking enough of itself. There was something jarring in the way that Winn lays on their victim status with a trowel. I never felt true connection with her and Moth, despite wanting to do so. Her blanket condemnation of any commercialisation, even when it brings much needed jobs, is naive. The characters they meet along the way do not ring true. The relationship with her husband Moth is largely unexplored. Their children seem to never be contacted by them, nor is their response to their parents' extreme decision to roam homless examined.. Surely they must have been out of their minds with worry. For me, this novel needed a lighter touch or stronger editing. But many have loved it and raved about it. It's a best seller. There are some beautifully written passages. Raynor Winn can clearly write. This book just didn't touch me in the way I'd hoped.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    A beautiful book that made me think about what’s really important to me and what matters in my world. Moth and Raynor find themselves homeless, and then things get even worse when Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With nothing else to do, and no where else to go they walk the South West Coastal path. The bravery and sheer determination the couple have is breathtaking. I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly. It’s made me grateful for my home and my bed, and of course my health. The A beautiful book that made me think about what’s really important to me and what matters in my world. Moth and Raynor find themselves homeless, and then things get even worse when Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With nothing else to do, and no where else to go they walk the South West Coastal path. The bravery and sheer determination the couple have is breathtaking. I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly. It’s made me grateful for my home and my bed, and of course my health. The writing is perfect in parts and very poetic. A lovely, bravely honest book....

  25. 5 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    I believe that I'm in the minority here on my opinion of this book, and I've read many glowing reviews, so get ready for my personal, and probably rather unpopular opinion. This book had first caught my eye here on Goodreads, and as I'm a huge lover of the coast, I assumed that I'd see eye to eye with the story, and all it had to offer. Well, I was wrong, and for the majority of this read I felt bored, and actually extremely unmoved. I mean, this is about a couple that have lost their home, the I believe that I'm in the minority here on my opinion of this book, and I've read many glowing reviews, so get ready for my personal, and probably rather unpopular opinion. This book had first caught my eye here on Goodreads, and as I'm a huge lover of the coast, I assumed that I'd see eye to eye with the story, and all it had to offer. Well, I was wrong, and for the majority of this read I felt bored, and actually extremely unmoved. I mean, this is about a couple that have lost their home, the husband is dying, and they are hiking around England's coastline looking for themselves again, so one would expect to feel a tug on the old heartstrings, right? Wrong. I felt only the heave of my body as I exhaled a sigh after reading yet another line about the couple being "brave" and eating yet another bland bit of "rice". Winn tries to lay the sympathy on thick for this couple, which is not only exasperating, but it is tedious. Tedious for the reader that wants to make their own journey with these characters and work it out for themselves. Winn constantly puts down homeless people that drink or take drugs, and then puts her character's into a separate category like they are too good to liaise with addicts. It was irritating. Our main characters were unrealistic and failed to be fleshed out. We hear nothing about the children of these character's who surely, SURELY would have been concerned about their parents hitting the road with just bags of fudge to eat. Which brings me to another issue I had. The constant meeting of pointless characters along their journey. Strange conversations take place in which people are actually very rude and refer to them as "old" and this contributes absolutely nothing to the text. I'm not sure where Winn has been, but most people are not rude, especially in the way she describes. The actual writing itself is repetitive. Winn felt the need to repeat situations to not only the reader, but to every person along the coastline. She made it impossible for me to connect with. It was boring, half-baked and full of prejudice, so I'm terribly happy it's over. Just the thought of reading the next book in the series makes me cringe. Readers? It is never going to happen.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fondantsurprise

    I wanted to love this book. I’d heard so many amazing things about it. But I struggled. I don’t want to leave an unkind review so I’ll say — some of the nature writing is beautiful. I just didn’t get on at all with the internal commentary.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kerri Anne

    This book wasn't what I was expecting. The cover art is lovely, which is admittedly why I initially grabbed it, and because I'm always up for reading a story about walking for the sake of walking, hiking for the sake of seeing all there is to see, movement for the sheer joy and struggle and simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over again. This book was much more than that while also falling short for me. My biggest problem wasn't the story, which was plenty insp This book wasn't what I was expecting. The cover art is lovely, which is admittedly why I initially grabbed it, and because I'm always up for reading a story about walking for the sake of walking, hiking for the sake of seeing all there is to see, movement for the sheer joy and struggle and simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over again. This book was much more than that while also falling short for me. My biggest problem wasn't the story, which was plenty inspiring and honest and raw. Destigmatizing homelessness is something I think needs to happen before we can properly and sufficiently end homelessness once and for all (or at the very least try much harder to alleviate it than we are now). I think more than anything my biggest problem with this book was the editing: Both the structure itself (I'm of the mind that chronologically isn't always the best way to tell a story, even one about walking a path from one end to the other), and the length. This story is one that could (and in my opinion, should) have been hundreds of pages shorter than it was. It read more like a travel journal (replete with plenty of thoughts that would have been best kept in a journal vs. shared) more than it did a fully formed and properly edited memoir. (e.g. At one point Winn compares caravans to concentration camps and it's so cringe-worthy and tone-deaf that I nearly stopped reading then and there. SEE ALSO: AMAZING EDITORS ARE OUT THERE AND THEY'RE AWESOME. HIRE AMAZING EDITORS!) Anyway. Parts of this book are inspiring. Parts of it are annoying. Parts of it are incredibly sweet and moving. Parts of it feel overwrought and judgmental. Overall, I think the story itself is compelling, even if I'd have preferred it be told a bit differently and more succinctly. [Two-point-five stars for honesty, and for the simple, devastating, and inspiring reality of nothing behind you and nothing ahead of you but the path stretching out beneath your feet.]

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    I feel like I could just make a list of relevant adjectives and leave my review at that: Powerful. Beautiful. Moving. Inspiring. Courageous. Not enough? Okay, here goes, with a bit more commentary. In The Salt Path, author Raynor Winn shares the painful story of how she and her husband Moth lost their family farm after a lengthy legal battle stemming from an investment with a friend. While not all that much detail is given about the case itself, it sounds as though this long-term friend was fairly shad I feel like I could just make a list of relevant adjectives and leave my review at that: Powerful. Beautiful. Moving. Inspiring. Courageous. Not enough? Okay, here goes, with a bit more commentary. In The Salt Path, author Raynor Winn shares the painful story of how she and her husband Moth lost their family farm after a lengthy legal battle stemming from an investment with a friend. While not all that much detail is given about the case itself, it sounds as though this long-term friend was fairly shady and went after Ray and Moth to cover his expenses when the project tanked. Not able to afford counsel in the drawn-out court case, the couple had no choice but to represent themselves, and ultimately ended up losing everything on what seemed to be a technicality. Given a week to vacate their home, Ray and Moth are thrown into despair, compounded by a visit that week to a doctor who confirms that Moth suffers from a degenerative neurological disease that will kill him after a painful decline at some point in the near future. If this were fiction, a reader might be tempted to protest the melodrama of having characters lose their homes and livelihood AND get a terminal diagnosis all in the same week, but this is real life, and it really happened this way. The choices available to the couple are slim. They're left with public benefts that amount to about $60 a week, and can go on the wait list for public housing -- but because Moth's illness isn't in end stages just yet, they don't have priority. They can stay with family and friends temporarily, but are afraid of becoming burdens and outstaying their welcomes. And then a strange whim occurs to them as they're sorting through the remains of their old life -- why not just walk? Now in their 50s, Moth and Ray haven't done any serious outdoor adventuring in many, many years, but the idea of walking the South West Coast Path grabs hold of them as a way of being somewhere, with a purpose, rather than completely buckling under the weight of their bad luck and inauspicious prospects. And so, they gather gear, put most of their belongings into storage with friends, and set out to walk the Coast Path. It's not easy. Moth's illness is painful, to the point that he can barely get out of bed some days. And yet, they're determined to walk rather than sit still. As they move forward, they face ongoing shortages of food, scraping by on their meager weekly allowance (and eating lots of noodles), camping wild wherever they can find a spot to pitch the tent, and slowly, mile by mile, falling into a rhythm that has a beauty all its own. Ray and Moth have a marriage that the rest of us can only envy. Together since their teens, the love between the couple is strong and unbreakable, shining through Ray's writing on every single page. It's heart-breaking to hear Ray's thoughts on how much this man means to her, and what the future might hold for both of them as his disease progresses. Meanwhile, each chapter brings fresh insights and wonders. Parts of the book read like an ode to the natural beauty of the landscapes and seascapes they see on their journey. It really sounds spectacular. There's also sorrow and harsh realities -- the author includes statistics and background information on homelessness in the UK, and shows how the official numbers are only a small representation of the true homeless population. Homeless themselves, Ray and Moth again and again face the general dislike and fear that most people seem to feel toward the homeless. They meet many people along the path -- fellow hikers, local residents, random strangers. When seen as older backpackers with presumably enough wealth to take weeks away from the world to walk the path, they're applauded and warmly greeted. But when Moth explains to previously friendly people that they're homeless, the others shrink away from them and can't seem to distance themselves fast enough. The writing is simply beautiful. Ray shares her pain and her sorrows, but also reveals the growing sense of belonging that she finds through the path: The country towered above me, a blank empty space containing nothing for us. Only one thing was real, more real to me now than the past that we'd lost or the future we didn't have: if I put one foot in front of the other, the path would move me forward and a strip of dirt, often no more than a foot wide, had become home. It wasn't just the chill in the air, the lowering of the sun's horizon, the heaviness of the dew or the lack of urgency in the birds' calls, but something in me was changing season too. I was no longer striving, fighting to change the unchangeable, not clenching in anxiety at the life we'd been unable to hold on to, or angry at an authoritarian system too bureaucratic to see the truth. A new season had crept into me, a softer season of acceptance. Burned in by the sun, driven in by the storm. I could feel the sky, the earth, the water and revel in being part of the elements without a chasm of pain opening at the thought of the loss of our place within it all. I was a part of the whole. I didn't need to own a patch of land to make that so. I could stand in the wind and I was the wind, the rain, the sea; it was all me, and I was nothing within it. The core of me wasn't lost. Translucent, elusive, but there and grown stronger with every headland. There's so much to love about The Salt Path. I found Ray and Moth's journey and their devotion to one another so inspirational. And, this book really made me want to get out and walk a long path some day! Don't miss this book. It's a beautiful work, and is worth taking the time to savor.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    This profoundly satisfying memoir/travelogue could be lodged under more than one category or genre on the bookshelf. It’s an adventure story: in which a middle-aged couple attempt to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path, camping ‘wild’ all the way. It’s a survival story: in which the elements, hunger, destitution and a frightening medical diagnosis all feature. It’s a story of social awareness: in which middle-class home owners can lose everything and discover that the various safety nets (le This profoundly satisfying memoir/travelogue could be lodged under more than one category or genre on the bookshelf. It’s an adventure story: in which a middle-aged couple attempt to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path, camping ‘wild’ all the way. It’s a survival story: in which the elements, hunger, destitution and a frightening medical diagnosis all feature. It’s a story of social awareness: in which middle-class home owners can lose everything and discover that the various safety nets (legal aid, social housing) have great holes in them. And finally, it’s a love story between a man and woman whose commitment to each other is rock-solid - even when every other foundation of their lives together is ripped away. And threaded through all of these stories is some very fine nature writing. Those adventurous souls who are curious about the South West Coast Path may want to read this book for just that reason: just as Ray and Moth Winn use Paddy Dillon’s guide throughout their journey, this book also draws attention to the beauty spots, physical challenges and human challenges of this wild coastal route. More important for me than the specific details of the trail were the philosophical benefits of Ray and Moth’s journey. An important trope of nature writing is the idea that Nature heals wounds - and the wounds healed in this book are physical, emotional and spiritual. About halfway through the book, the couple meets a fellow trail walker who comments on their appearance: “It’s touched you: it’s written all over you: you’ve felt the hand of nature. It won’t ever leave you now; you’re salted.” It’s an idea that recurs throughout the text: a whiff of salt spray, perhaps, but also the idiomatic sense of an ‘old salt’ - a storyteller whose been through some hard things. I also think of salt as seasoning, as a tenderiser. The author describes the physical transformation wrought by their journey, but more important still is the emotional changes they undergo. They head onto the coastal path because they have nowhere else to go and because they want to avoid bleak reality. But what they discover is an unexpected strength. They are honed; everything nonessential is rubbed (or ‘salted’) away. The very idea of losing my home - my past, all of the security I’ve laboured for - terrifies me. Ray communicates the horror of this so well that the beginning of the book may have you crying (or at least choking up) with empathy. But this is a heartening book in the end because Ray and Moth discover, gradually, that they are ‘free’ and the world still has promise and possibilities.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    I'm going to be a bit of an odd one out here. I was looking for forward to this. I know parts of the South West Coast path fairly well. It's a true story about folk who are having a pretty bad time. It should be good. Parts certainly were and I definitely enjoyed some of it. However other bits left me cold or worse. I found the author quite hard to like (though her husband seemed OK but this is not from his perspective). There were times when I felt she was enjoying her bad luck to too great an I'm going to be a bit of an odd one out here. I was looking for forward to this. I know parts of the South West Coast path fairly well. It's a true story about folk who are having a pretty bad time. It should be good. Parts certainly were and I definitely enjoyed some of it. However other bits left me cold or worse. I found the author quite hard to like (though her husband seemed OK but this is not from his perspective). There were times when I felt she was enjoying her bad luck to too great an extent. Other parts simply hit a bum note for. Not bad but not what I had hoped for.

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