The Salt Path, by Raynor Winn
Published by Penguin, 31st January 2019 (first published 22nd March 2018)
Genres: Nonfiction, memoir, travel, nature
Source: Purchased (new)
Trigger warnings: terminal illness, homelessness
In the course of one terrible week, Raynor and her husband Moth lost their family home, their business and received a devastating diagnosis. With their world in turmoil and nowhere to turn, they made a rather drastic decision: to walk to 630-mile-long South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, wild camping along the way and subsisting on about £48 a week.
The path would test them in every way imaginable, but it would also allow them to face the very hard truths of their new present and to come to terms with it.
This book had been recommended to me over and over, and it seemed like the ideal first book of 2021. I was not disappointed and I read it through almost in one sitting.
I really enjoy nonfiction, especially memoirs, and I was particularly moved by this story. The strength, courage and resilience demonstrated by Raynor and Moth, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles were very inspiring. This is a tale of struggle and hardship, of determination and perseverance, but it is also a love story. The story of one couple and their refusal to accept a world where they would not be together anymore.
Another aspect I really loved about this book was the descriptions of the landscapes throughout their journey along the South West Coast Path. The author was able to capture the wild and rugged beauty of the coastline and I felt like I really was along for the walk with them.
The section of the path around the Cornish coast was particularly nostalgic and evocative for me. I have so many incredibly fond memories of childhood summers spent by the coast in Cornwall, where my grandparents used to live. I could picture the tiny village of Mousehole, Penzance and Marazion, with St Michael’s Mount standing in the bay and the dramatic coastline at The Lizard. It made me quite emotional, to be honest, and made me want to go back to all of these special places.
The connection with nature was inescapable in this memoir and it was apparent that this return to nature and a more basic way of life was one of the most significant aspects of their journey. This is also the reason why I selected this book for one of my reading challenge prompts: A book about the natural world.
“It’s touched you, its written all over you: you’ve felt the hand of nature. It won’t ever leave you now; you’re salted”
My rating: 5/5