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The Salt Path by Raynor Winn - Review

Monday, March 13, 2023

This was the March choice for our book club. I'm not sure who chose it, actually, but I do know I was a bit like, oh I'm not sure if that's my thing or not. But I bought a copy on eBay for a few quid and picked it up at the beginning of March. I ended up really liking it! It'll be interesting to see what everyone else thinks about it. 

It's the true story of Ray and Moth, who are fiftyish and have been a couple since their teens, through being students, having two kids, and buying a farm in Wales, where they've lived for twenty years. At the beginning of the book they lose the farm due to a bad investment, with bailiffs coming to reposess it to pay off debts. Then Moth gets a medical diagnosis of something called CBD, which is a degenerative brain disease. This happens literally two days after losing the farm. The couple are now homeless. Their kids are both students and they don't want to impinge on relatives or friends for a long time. So they decide to walk the South West Coast Path which goes from Minehead in Somerset all the way round through Devon, Cornwall, and into Dorset, where it ends in Poole. It's 630 miles of walking. Ray and Moth buy a guide book and a tent and many lightweight things, because Moth can't carry very much with the pain in his shoulder. 

They wild camp along the way, sleeping on the beach and on clifftops and in fields. They meed many people, most of whom are nice, but some of whom really aren't. They exist on a budget of £48 per week, buying rice and noodles and fudge bars. Sometimes they have nothing to eat - sometimes they can afford an ice cream each. They suffer through illness and cold and a lot weather and blisters. 

I have been to Cornwall twice in the past ten years so I recognised many of the places mentioned, so that was lovely to read about. I like camping but not wild camping, so I was really interested in stuff about that. As they walk Ray and Moth start to come to terms with their situation, having thought that they would live on the farm for the rest of their lives. Ray clearly struggles more with Moth's diagnosis, and is unsure how she'll cope without him. But the walk seems to improve his health, something neither of them quite believe at first. I don't know what I thought would happen at the end of the book but I was really intrigued to read what happened.

Ray and Moth both turned up on Rick Stein's Cornwall, the new series of which started quite recently. It was so nice to see them and catch up on their lives since the book and the walk, the start of which was a decade ago. 

I'm giving this four out of five, I really liked it and the beautiful nature writing.

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