Sunday, April 21, 2019

Book Review: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

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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