I can’t imagine what it must be like to be made homeless, to be destitute and at the same time, learn that your husband has a terminal illness. That, for me, seems like too much for one person to bear and would surely come close to pushing one past breaking point.
This is what happened to Raynor Winn and are the reasons for her and her husband, Moth embarking on a challenging hike with wilderness camping on The Salt Path, the coastal path that takes walkers around the sea edge of the counties of south-west England. Where most people would be shirking from a more difficult lifestyle, Winn embraces the unknown, immersing herself and Moth into nature, the elements and their unpredictability. In some ways, it seems a very strange thing to do, considering the circumstances and yet, for Winn and her husband, it is the making of them.
I liked this book very much. It was at risk of being samey as Winn charts her and Moth’s progress along the path and the set of unique obstacles they face but somehow, Winn manages to avoid this becoming a repetitive heavy read. They face the prospect of living on a shoestring; finding a place to pitch the tent night after night; dealing with the effects of Moth’s condition; seeking ways to escape the weather; keeping clean and discreetly disposing of natural waste, which is not always possible with early dog walkers.
Winn describes the natural environment so that you are fully aware of the sights and sounds around them, including natural encounters as well as those with other hikers and walkers on the path. There are instances of kindness and friendships made and I am sure that Simon Armitage must have benefitted from his mention in the book.
But there is also the judgement of others, one of the things that I found most interesting about the book. Raynor and Moth are essentially homeless and are on the path because they have nowhere else to go. They have a trickle of money which comes in regularly but is barely enough on which to subsist and they are worthy of respect, for not submitting to inertia or brooding as a result of losing their home. However, homelessness has a stigma and one of which they were regularly made aware.
A book which is testament to the power of the human spirit.