The Salt Path: The Sunday Times bestseller, shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award & The Wainwright Prize Paperback – 31 Jan 2019
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A beautiful, thoughtful, lyrical story of homelessness, human strength and endurance (Guardian)
An astonishing narrative of two people dragging themselves from the depths of despair along some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country, looking for a solution to their problems and ultimately finding themselves. (Independent)
Ray's account of their incredible journey is a tale of triumph, of hope over despair (Pick of the paperbacks, The Sunday Times)
The landscape is magical, shape-shifting seas and smugglers' coves; myriad sea birds and mauve skies . . . It's a tale of triumph: of hope over despair; of love over everything . . . home was no longer about bricks and mortar. It was a state of mind (The Sunday Times)
An inspirational nature memoir for fans of H is for Hawk about losing everything and finding yourself between the elements of sea and sky (Waterstones)
A remarkable and redemptive journey (Summer Books of 2018 Financial Times)
The Salt Path is a life-affirming tale of enduring love that smells of the sea and tastes of a rich life. With beautiful, immersive writing, it is a story heart-achingly and beautifully told. (Jackie Morris, illustrator of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane)
The most inspirational book of this year . . . In some ways The Salt Path reads like the ultimate drop-out odyssey, except that this journey isn't a life choice . . . What the book chiefly conveys is the human capacity for endurance and the regenerative power of nature . . . The Salt Path also serves as a reminder that Britain is a land criss-crossed by footpaths and that we take this 140,000-mile national glory for granted at our peril . . . The Salt Path has reminded me to scrape last year's mud from my walking boots and get rambling again. I hope it has the same impact on millions of others. (Richard Morrison The Times)
Uplifting and inspirational (Woman & Home)
An exquisite piece of writing (Western Morning News)
About the Author
Since travelling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. She lives in Cornwall. This is her first book.
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I really warmed to both Raynor and Moth, I hope that they are both doing well and do hope that Raynor thinks about writing another book. This is not a sad book, although in parts it did make me cry but it is an uplifting read, inspirational and makes you question what you would do if faced in their situation. This book is a joy to read, Raynor's writing is wonderful. From descriptions of the weather, scenery, wildlife, observations on society, nature, other people and their relationship. This is a wonderful story of coming to terms with grief (premature grieving, something I know about unfortunately) and about finding yourself and what is really important when it seems that everything is lost.
There is a saying that has made its way into popular usage during our times of austerity that we’re only ever one paycheck away from homelessness. The couple featured in this book, through no fault of their own, except for perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, made an unwise decision and found themselves without a home.
After investing money in a friend’s business that eventually went bust owing creditors, Raynor Winn and her husband Moth spend months in endless courtroom battles trying to hang onto their home and livelihood after becoming liable for some of the company debt.
Their home in Wales, a farm complete with a business something they’ve lovingly built up from virtually nothing and raised a family in is eventually repossessed and they end up homeless. And if fate hadn’t dealt them a cruel enough blow, they learn that Moth has a terminal illness that will eventually leave him debilitated bit by bit.
They put their possessions into storage with a friend and using Paddy Dillon’s little brown book, The South West Coast Path: From Minehead to South Haven Point, decide to walk 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall carrying large backpacks that would hold the basic necessities for wild camping along the way. The South West coastal area is my neck of the woods at the moment, so of course as a lover of memoirs of this nature, the book held an added fascination for me as I was familiar with some of the places they visited.
Through a shared love of nature and an unbreakable loving bond between this middle aged couple, they battle on through the elements, windswept and often soaking wet conditions, finding friendship and hostility, the kindness of strangers and the judgemental attitudes of those who regard anyone homeless as undesirable. Moth gradually starts to feel better. The pain from his illness abates the more they walk and his mind is clearer leading them to develop theories about treatments and the effects of his increased, enforced activity on a daily basis. When they first meet strangers who want to know their story and why they’re backpacking and walking the route, they invent a story of having sold up and having an adventure that others seem to find inspirational until they decide to just tell the truth about being homeless which brings mixed reactions ranging from horror and rapid withdrawals to understanding and kindness.
They meet other homeless people and through their own situation discover an infinity and understanding with those similarly positioned
With breathtaking descriptions of the sights and wildlife they see along their journey and inspirational insights into their own lives, life itself and homelessness, this book is an absolutely fascinating read.
“I tightened the hip belt on my pack, shut the door on the whining voice and kept walking. Life is now, this minute, it’s all we have. It’s all we need.”
Since the book must have been largely written en route, it’s misleading to imply that it’s all from recollection. The publisher’s disclaimer on the last page somewhat suggests they have similar reservations.