The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
The double bombshell of unjust eviction and a diagnosis of a terminal illness precipitates the devoted, ‘old’ couple of fifty years on a homeless hike with no future in sight. Backpacking, camping wild, surviving sometimes on little more than fruit gums and boiled limpets.
This almost incredible tale follows Moth and Ray Winn’s trek, as they fight poverty, weariness, hunger, storms and despair, spurned on by the challenge of tramping the 630 harsh, clifftop miles of the South West Coast Path.
It’s a tale of daily adventure, a panorama of unique scenery reflecting centuries of industry and tragedy. Along the way, we encounter snuffling badgers, shy deer, swooping gulls, nodding oystercatchers, a majestic peregrine falcon and even a tortoise on a lead. Here and there, we meet eccentric gentry, carefree holidaymakers, early morning dog-walkers, elderly nudists and scavenging dropouts.
But it’s also a tale of stubborn perseverance against uneven odds and – to everyone’s surprise – the naturally healing effect of strenuous outdoor activity. Thematically, the book has some similarity to another book set in Cornwall: Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara.
The story is both enlightening and captivating. However, the repetitiveness of the events, the sometimes fanciful descriptions and curiously phrased prose detract somewhat from its merit.