I read The Salt Path a couple of months ago. What an inspiring story! In their fifties, Raynor and her husband faced drastic changes to their previously comfortable lives. In contrast to the many ‘misery memoirs’ around these days, they set off on a long-distance walk, camping along the way. The book is moving, funny, and a great read. But it confirmed my view that sleeping in a tent is much too close to the wonders of nature to be enjoyable.
This is a very inspirational book I cannot be described as a walked her it did make me want to Don boots and have a go. We walk daily in the winter as we are at home a lot but short walks only I am considering gradually increasing these so we may be able to do this walk next spring.
I haven’t managed a long distance walk for some time but when I was just seventeen I worked as an au pair in Malvern, Worcestershire, One day The children were being taken out by their parents and I was asked to take Sally, the dog out for a walk. I took her onto the Malvern hills and we walked the full length which is about 8 miles , so 16 miles in total. When we got back to the flat Sally lay down in her basket and didn’t get out again for 3 days!!
Many years later Our U3A walking group visited Malvern and also walked the full length and I was so pleased that I was able to join in as I had had a hip replacement in the previous year. It was much easier when I was 17!
We read this book for our local book club, to mixed reviews. Despite some members not enjoying it as much as others, all were impressed by the author and her partner’s determination, resilience and sheer grit in completing the walk.
Thanks @The-Ochils for such a beautifully observed, and poignant, first comment on this month’s Silver Travel Book Club Forum.
You have certainly inspired me to seek out the area you describe so eloquently, in much the same way that Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path, seems to have encouraged many others.
Looking forward to hearing which long-distance walks other Silver Travellers have undertaken, what their inspiration might have been…and what they discovered along the way.
Every year I watch my partner head off with his friends to do a long distance walk mid May. He comes back with stores of flora and fauna, cantankerous cows, bountiful breakfasts and experiences shared at pub firesides. I exercise daily but my walking is limited because of fibromyalgia so thus I enjoyed long walks vicariously. Late summer this year we booked a cottage in the pretty coastal town of St. Monans in the East Neuk of Fife. The cottage was adjacent to the coastal path with its rocky shores and sandy beaches. Venturing down to the windmills and saltpans we spotted swallows, a small flock of goldfinches, gannets and gulls and a distant pair of grey seals. The sound of the waves and the mingling smell of seaweed and salt sparked a desire in me to explore further. Over a week we enjoyed sections of the path from Elie to Kingsbarns sometimes in the wind and the drizzle sometimes under glorious blue skies. We discovered manmade curiosities such as a disused stone tower which was built in 1770 as a changing room for a local lady when she wished to bathe. We discovered manmade goodies such as the local produce at Adross Farm shop and gin at Eden Mill distillery at Kingsbarnes. At Pittenweem we found Jim Brown’s pyrography studio where he creates landscapes using natural materials. In each small section of the path there was something to urge me to overcome the discomfort, to enjoy the diversity the natural and the manmade woven togther and working in harmony.
Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.
Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.
The Salt Path is an honest and life-affirming true story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.
The Salt Path is an especially appropriate choice for the Silver Travel Book Club as author Raynor Winn has recently won the Royal Society of Literature Christopher Bland Prize for 2019, awarded to encourage and celebrate older writers. It is awarded annually to a debut novelist or popular non-fiction writer, first published at the age of 50 or over.
How 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.