This review is written by hobo Trudi who read The Salt Path mostly in our van before the coronavirus lockdown.
Being unable to travel gives us all more time to read of others’ adventures, inspiring us to get back on the road when we’re finally free to do so again. Hopefully this won’t be too long!
“People fight the elements, the weather…but when it’s touched you, when you let it be, you’re never the same again.“
The Salt Path – in search of something…
The Salt Path is a book which resonates with hobos – homelessness, travelling in search of “something”.
Work. Food. A future. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The book documents the author’s journey with her husband along the South West Coastal Path. This would be a major road trip in a van, but they attempted all 630 miles of it…on foot!
This book really got me thinking…
Imagine having nothing… your home, your possessions, your livelihood, all gone. No fault of your own. All you are left with is a soul-destroying sense of bitterness against those who conspired to take everything from you.
You see, all Raynor and Moth Winn had left was each other.
Romantic? Yes. Love can conquer anything? Not quite.
You see, at the same time that they lost everything, Moth was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease. A terminal condition on which the clock had started ticking some years ago.
Raynor had lost everything in the material sense. Now she could see her soulmate fading away too.
With their world suddenly becoming a tiny place, they impulsively decided to walk the South West Coastal Path from Minehead to…
Well, how far would Moth get?
This lovely Latin phrase translates into ‘it is solved by walking.’
This must have been the hope of both Raynor and Moth.
Their walk began the day they left the derelict pile of stones they had lovingly renovated and turned into a home and business. The end would surely arrive soon enough.
Were they walking away from the horror of losing everything or walking towards an uncertain future – or both?
Maybe they were just walking.
“Do we have a plan?”
“Course we do. We’ll walk until we stop walking, and maybe on the way we’ll find some kind of future”
“That’s a good plan”
“What are we going to do, after Land’s End?”
“I don’t know”
Walking was the only thing that made sense. All their worldly goods stowed into a backpack each – including the tent – they set off into what was left of their lives and it became the ultimate challenge, adding physical pain to the emotional turmoil.
For younger, fitter people this would be a grand adventure with hardship tales to warm many a firelit evening for years to come.
But for Raynor and Moth It was more than life or death because death was inevitable; how many firelit evenings together did they have left?
“It was pitch black at eleven o’clock when we finally felt ready to leave the warmth of the pub, erect the tent in a niche in the cliff slightly protected from the gale and fall asleep as the wind ripped overhead.”
Angry, humbled and inspired
The elements burned them, soaked them, froze them. They encountered the best and worst of other people.
The Salt Path left me angry on their behalf – angry at a system which fails the honest, angry at a God who allows decent people to suffer.
It humbled me too. Raynor and Moth were able to leave their anger behind, probably because they already carried enough weight in their backpacks. I admired their determination and wondered if I could ever be that strong.
“It’s touched you, it’s written all over you: you’ve felt the hand of nature. It won’t ever leave you now; you’re salted.”
Most of all, I am inspired by them to get out into the storm, to leave the energy-sapping comforts of modern life behind more often and build resilience.
To get in touch with myself – to connect my spirit with nature or God, like all good pilgrimages should do. For this is what Raynor and Moth’s journey surely was.
Only the best books leave you feeling like you have made and then lost a good friend when you turn that final page. The Salt Path is one of them. Read it now!
If you love reading travel books…
With us all in lockdown and unable to go anywhere it makes sense to use the spare time wisely. We both love reading so we’ll be getting through several more books over the coming weeks.
If you missed last month’s review of ‘Deep Country – Five Years in the Welsh Hills’ read it now!
Or if you’d like to search the thousands of books at Blackwell’s – a family-run bookshop – just click below…