Review: The Salt Path and its sequel The Wild Silence, by Raynor Winn

In these challenging times I found the life-affirming book, The Salt Path, to be the sort of inspirational book I needed. Raynor Winn and her husband, Moth, set out on what seems a mad and desperate attempt to escape their current situation by walking the 630 mile South West Coast Path. In many ways just an ordinary couple, they are left homeless after they made a bad investment and are driven to, ‘just walk’ with very little on their backs or in their pockets. Winn writes honestly about the daily challenges they face, but her positivity helps them to keep going and the reader gets really involved in the people they meet and the small kindnesses they encounter. She describes the natural world beautifully.

On finishing the book you cannot help wondering what happens next. As if losing their livelihood was not bad enough, Moth had very recently been diagnosed with the rare degenerative disease CBD (corticobasal degeneration), so that their journey of faith becomes even more extraordinary.

In her sequel, The Wild Silence, Winn recounts her childhood, wild camping days in lovely places in Britain, the illness and death of her mother and her struggle to support the husband she loves who, weak but determined after the walk, enrols on a BSc degree. It’s a huge decision for her to embark on writing The Salt Path and she frequently seeks solace in the land and draws strength from it.

Winn focuses on learning to live in the present, deal with stress and loss and adjust to new situations. They are now tenants of a farm that demands both hard work and innovation to survive and she is a best-selling writer – hard for someone who is naturally shy. I greatly enjoyed both books, especially when recent months have reminded me of the need for hope, the restorative power of walking in one of the loveliest coastal areas of Scotland and of the importance of caring for the natural environment.