July 24, 2020
Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Nature
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Moth and Raynor have been married thirty-two years when they suddenly lose their livelihood and home. At the same time, Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Soon to be homeless and with nothing to lose, they impulsively embark on a six hundred thirty mile hike along the South West Coast Path also known as the Salt Path. How did they fare? Can the answer to their life crisis be found in extreme hiking?
Is the answer found in extreme hiking?
Strong Sense of Place: I’m fascinated by a well-written and engaging memoir, and The Salt Path does not disappoint. The main feeling I experienced upon completion was “I feel like I’ve walked the Salt Path!” and I need my chapstick! I felt the blisters and the fatigue, the sea breeze in my hair, the hunger, the rain and wet clothing, the heat, the cumbersome backpacks, the beauty of the coast and trails, the loneliness, and the spirit of adventure. I appreciate the endurance and stamina required for extreme hiking!
Homeless: In a very real sense, Moth and Raynor were homeless (although their children and friends were standing by as their support system). The experience of hiking The Salt Path gave them insight into what the lives of the homeless might be like as they tried to find safe places to set up the tent, restrooms, places to shower, a candy bar when they were starving, and an ATM from which to withdraw their meager weekly government stipend. They experienced the kindness and hospitality of strangers and the occasional companionship of fellow hikers.
Health Benefit: An added benefit to this experience is that Moth’s terminal illness seemed to go into remission due to the extreme physical exertion and minimal calorie intake. As the journey progressed, he felt more energized, experienced increased physical stamina, a reduction in pain, and was even able to reduce the amount of medication he took.
Questions Raised: During my reading, a few random thoughts flitted through my mind. I’m curious to hear from hikers who have walked this trail or can relate to their experiences. Her actions seemed a bit careless to me in that other hikers they met along the way were well prepared for the conditions and the occasional necessity to find lodging. It was a stretch of the imagination to believe that two mature individuals would suddenly attempt this risky adventure without more conditioning and experience. Luckily, her husband seemed to fare well in some extreme conditions, but she didn’t know that when impulsively planning the trip. Her actions concerned me in light of her adult children who might have also wanted to spend time with their terminally ill father. My husband informs me I’m too cynical, but I had a small feeling when I read the book that she might have intentionally set themselves up for some dramatic moments (by not carrying enough money, etc) and that she planned to write the book from the outset as a way out of their financial dilemma….either that or she kept an incredibly detailed journal!
Relationship: I did appreciate the close and trusting relationship that Moth and Raynor shared. They are soul mates and that part of the memoir is as inspiring as their extreme hike.
Recommended: Overall, The Salt Path is an inspiring, realistic, dramatic, and well-written memoir. Fans of extreme hiking and outdoor enthusiasts will especially enjoy the story. Readers who live in the area and who have had an opportunity to walk part of the trail will certainly appreciate it! (Thanks for the recommendation Nicki @ The Secret Library Book Blog)
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Raynor Winn
Since traveling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness, and wild camping. Her first book, The Salt Path, was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award. In The Wild Silence, Raynor explores readjusting to life after homelessness. She lives in Cornwall with her husband Moth.
Is The Salt Path on your TBR or have you read it?
Do you love memoir?
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