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Silver Travel Book Club - Book of the Month - October 2019

I haven’t read the Salt Path yet but after reading this forum it is definitely on my ‘to read’ list.

My sister lives on the Isle of Man and last time she travelled to Cornwall, which took all day, she started the Salt Road and when I picked her up at Liskeard station she had just 4 pages to finish. She had enjoyed it so much she proceeded to retell the entire book to in a very excited manner!

As DRSask mentioned above, my family are trying to walk the whole of the South West Coastal Path and so far we are just about half way round (300 miles done, 300 miles to go). We are doing this in short bursts as and when family members are not at school or work (I don’t have that problem, I am retired and could go at any time). I was inspired to do this as 14 years ago I had cancer and was told I probably wouldn’t last more than 10 years. But here I still am! It inspired me to try and keep fit and I am hoping I will be able to finish it before my son has to lug me round on his back in one of those baby papoose type things! What I discovered about myself is that being on the wild coastal paths completely clears my head and puts life into perspective. I am never happier than when I am trudging alongside a rugged cliff top and looking down at the sea below!

Like many who have posted this month, I haven’t yet been on a continuous walk though have enjoyed reading about others’ journeys whether it was accomplished in one trip or is an ongoing adventure done in short breaks like @Rowsie on the South West Coastal Path. One walk, more a climb actually, that does spring to mind was in Shropshire and it brought to mind another climb from when I was 18. Four years ago I was on assignment for Silver Travel Advisor as a guest blogger at the Buckatree Hall Hotel just outside Wellington We could see the Wrekin from our hotel room and on our last morning, on our way home, we climbed to the top of the Wrekin to see the hill fort and amazing views. Whenever the climb was above a certain pitch I became extremely nauseated. When the pitch lowered, the nausea disappeared. Upon reflection it reminded me of a trip in the distant past to Wales and an attempt to climb Snowden. A couple of members of the party were smokers at the time and I was very affected by the smoke no matter how much they tried to keep it away from me. I seemed fine during the day but when night hit and I lay down in my sleeping bag (we were camping) the nausea hit. I was up all night trying not to be sick; a typical thing for me when exposed to cigarette smoke. The next morning, when we started the steep climb up Snowden, the nausea returned in full force and I ended up having to go back to the vehicle while the rest of the party continued to the top. I always thought it was just the cigarette smoke that had made the climb nauseating to me. My experience climbing the Wrekin has me rethinking the event. I’m sure the smoke didn’t help but now I think it was also the steepness of the incline. Though I have done some walking in the Lake District, most was not the sustained steepness of climbing Snowden or the Wrekin. Now I take steep climbs slowly with lots of breaks as I know the nausea will disappear once the incline recedes.

Thanks so much @LH and @Hardyplant for your inspiring contributions to this month’s Silver Travel Book Club forum thread.

Your very different reasons for walking the Ridgeway and the Saxon Shore Way respectively are equally uplifting, affirming the physical, mental – and often almost spiritual – benefits of embracing a long-distance walking path.

That was certainly the case for Raynor Winn and her husband when walking the South West Coastal Path, which resulted in this month’s book club choice The Salt Path.

Please keep those insightful comments flowing and remember the challenge to win a copy of The Salt Path:

Tell us about a long-distance walk you’ve undertaken, what your inspiration to do it was…and what you discovered about yourself or the landscape along the way.

Join this Forum thread or comment on Silver Travel’s Facebook page and the most interesting two entries from Silver Travellers will each win a copy of the The Salt Path.

I loved reading your post @Hardyplant – it was a was a real uplift. Walking is a much under rated form of exercise but just being out in the fresh air does all of us good. And another bonus – it can be done anywhere, even around the local park!


I haven’t read The Salt Path yet but will do so when I’ve finished reading the pile of books I’ve recently bought. I didn’t think I could add a comment about a long distance walk I’d done but I suppose I’m in the process of doing one at the moment.

My son, who’s nearly 50, has type 2 diabetes, arthritic knees and chronic psoriasis and has never been particularly active but he does like walking the Saxon Shore Way with me; it’s something he can relate to as he lives very close to the part that goes through Sittingbourne on the north Kent coast. He likes the goal of doing the whole route, but in small chunks, rather than just going out for any old walk. He’s a different person when we get out in the open, even if it’s an urban or industrial section, and as we both like industrial landscapes his mood lifts considerably whichever part we’re on. We’ve been doing it for a few years now, in no particular order, just filling in gaps as and when we can; we still have to complete the part between Sandwich and Deal and also Hamstreet to Rye. The SSW is 160 miles long and follows the shoreline as it was in Saxon times, so goes inland in quite a few places. As he doesn’t drive, is often out of work so has little money, he has to rely on me for transport but once we get to the start it’s a free day out and the rewards are huge, especially seeing the wildlife which is particularly good along the banks of the creeks in north Kent with an abundance of waders on the mudflats. I enjoy the walks too but am just happy to see him happy.

Reading the other comments has reminded me that we must complete our `task` and make plans to finish our long distance walk before MY knees wear out.

Many years ago Andrew and myself were both working in London and only had Sunday afternoons for walking, so we decided to see if we could do a long distance footpath in bits, and the Ridgeway was nearest to us, so we started off doing some circular walks in the Chilterns starting from Ivanhoe Beacon and discovered some spectacular woods and views. Then I changed my job so I was based in Buckingham, and we meet up on Sunday half way for a short while and thus triumphantly completed the rest of the Ridgeway as it was ideally situated, and we could then do 15 mile stretches between the 2 cars so soon finished it off, realising that a full days walk on the Ridgeway took you from fort to fort for a natural break. I remember well one Sunday evening finishing about 10pm at Wayland’s Smithy and it was the spookiest walk of all. A full moon lighting up the chalk ridgeway path, and odd calls in the woods like an owl but not an owl, we were not alone on that last stage of the walk! We had to leave it to our imagination as to what or who was in the woods as it was pitch dark in there, and on that ancient path the imagination can run wild through all those centuries of past lives walking that particular sacred spot! Maybe warning calls before a sacrifice of the black crow or worse?!

The South West coast path is one we have started but yet to finish so would love to read this book.

Thanks for the comments flowing on this month’s Silver Travel Book Club choice – TheSaltPath. Raynor Winn’s emotional story behind walking the South West Coastal Path certainly seems to have resonated with many Book Club members.

Please excuse a little self-indulgence from your Literary Editor at this point, but I’d like to share a few of my own long-distance walking experiences…

At the point of retiring from a lifetime of working in offices around the world, I walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall with my wife and some close friends. I discovered much about those rather clever Romans, and began to think what I might do myself in a post-work world.

One of the most memorable long-distance walks we’ve undertaken is the 200 mile Coast to Coast walk across northern England, designed by the legendary Alfred Wainwright. We did this one to celebrate my wife Gill’s 50th birthday, walking from west to east through the glorious Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. Three of us completed the entire route, each picking up the traditional pebble from the beach by the Irish Sea at St Bees in Cumbria, carrying it across the width of England and tossing it into the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorks. We were joined by many friends and family along the way, but this route allows plenty of opportunities for quiet contemplation during the natural rhythms generated on a long distance walk. Gill enjoyed the whole experience so much, and felt so emotionally elated that she just wanted to turn around and walk all the way back to Cumbria.

A more recent long distant route we ‘pioneered’ for On Foot Holidays was the Camino dos Faros – the Lighthouse Way – in Galicia, northern Spain. This challenging coastal path is constantly pounded by the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, but you’re rewarded by much natural beauty, amazing seafood and the sad history of the Costa da Morte. Read my article on Silver Travel Advisor here to discover more.

As for my next long-distance walk, it may well be a version of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. I wrote a while ago why I might prefer the Portuguese Coastal Route to the over-populated route from St. Jean Pied de Port in southern France. And I may walk this one alone, to remember the long and happy life of my dear Dad who we said goodbye to just yesterday, but also because my poor wife Gill – for whom distance walking is a passion – is currently struggling to put one foot in front of another.

Please keep your own comments coming about The Salt Path and remember this month’s challenge to win a copy of the book:

Tell us about a long-distance walk you’ve undertaken, what your inspiration to do it was…and what you discovered about yourself or the landscape along the way.

Join this Forum thread or comment on Silver Travel’s Facebook page and the most interesting two entries from Silver Travellers will each win a copy of the The Salt Path.

This book sounds fabulous and is now firmly on my list of books to read. What a journey to have undertaken in such circumstances? Their bond must have been immeasurable and the whole experience created such memories for them both.

The longest walk I’ve ever undertaken was The (half) Moonwalk 13.1+2 for Breast Cancer – a fellow client at our hairdressers was diagnosed and a group of us (staff and customers) decided to do something in support.

My son did Pen-y-Fan with school a couple of years ago and he’d like me to go there and do it with him now – so he can show me what a beautiful place it is. My fond memories of walking in the Lake District as a younger model are the places I wish to share with him.

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