Book review: The Salt Path

Mevagissey Harbour | John Millen
Mevagissey Harbour | John Millen
 
The Salt Path Book Review
John Millen, one of our most experienced UK walking guides, was moved to read The Salt Path when he heard author Raynor Winn talk on national radio about her inspiring journey walking the South West Coastal Path in England, at a time when one of John’s close friends happened to be walking the same route to combat depression
 
The Salt Path is a beautifully written, page-turner of a true story about a couple struggling to come to terms with their lives, who decide to go on a journey of self-regeneration by walking the South West Coastal Path in England. It’s about the state of the mind, the state of modern Britain, and the sometimes raw beauty of Devon and Cornwall.
 
Days after ‘Moth’ is diagnosed with a terminal degenerative disease and is told that he may only have a couple more years left in him, he and his wife Raynor are evicted from their home. The slightly overweight couple in their 50s have already lost their farm, business and all their money in legal costs and are now on the verge of homelessness. With the odds stacked against them, and against the wishes of their loved ones, they decide to walk 630 miles (1014kms) from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset on the South West Coastal Path, with only £115 in their wallet and a tax rebate income of £48 a week. They have so little money that the cream tea they splurge on on the second day is their first and last.   
 
This is not a guide book in the traditional sense, but explains the process of walking the path under the most primitive conditions, with minds haunted throughout by the what ifs? and what’s next?

The path had given us certainty, a sense of security that came with knowing that tomorrow and the next day and the next we would pack up the tent, put one foot in front of the other and walk. 

For me, walking is all about getting back to basics, being healed by nature and reconnecting with yourself. The couple do just this, living simply off the land, prising molluscs from sea rocks and boiling them to eat, and being open to assistance from a few friendly souls. 
 
What I loved most about this book was following the couple as they slowly overcame their doubts about being able to cope walking such a long distance, and started to adjust to their new pace of life. As a walking guide, I’ve witnessed this countless times, with clients who are nervous about their capabilities and need a lot of nurturing at the start, but who slowly find their own feet and realise that they are capable of so much more than they had originally thought.
 
UTracks offers five self guided walking holidays on England's South West Coastal Path:
 
 
walking, walking holidays, united kingdom, england, book club

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