Hasn’t this summer been incredible. We’ve spent long hours by our lovely coast; preparing food for post-swim breakfasts on Gylly beach and jumping in the North coast waves as the golden sun sets – all safe in the knowledge that we’d be hopping in the car and making our way home for a nice hot shower before tucking up in bed.
Now imagine that the coast, the sea, the beach, the setting sun is seen through a different set of eyes. Imagine there’s no hot shower at the end of the day, or a nice bed to collapse into; just a tent pitched furtively at dusk after you’ve found a flat piece of ground, and wondering what the night or the next day would bring. This is the story of Moth and Raynor Winn in their best selling book ‘The Salt Path”.
The true story, shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize, is beautifully written by Raynor. We enter their world just as a business deal with a friend backfires leading to the loss of their lovingly restored home and their livelihood. A moment in their lives, however, changes everything. As they hide from the approaching bailiffs, Raynor suggests that they walk the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. Before too long, Raynor and Moth have packed a rucksack and started their journey. However, even the start of their journey has an added twist as Moth receives an unexpected medical diagnosis the following week which would have deterred the less tenacious in starting such a huge journey.
They plough on regardless and survive on the equivalent of £35 a week, eeking out their money on super noodles, occasional chips and in one heart breaking passage, sharing a fruit pastel they’ve found in a coat pocket. The journey turns into a rhythmic meditational sequence of walking, pitching the tent, washing in the sea, trying to find food and water, punctuated by the reactions of those they journey with or stumble upon. Raynor and Moth experience a wide spectrum of human behaviour; from kindness through indifference to the outright hostility of strangers.
The Salt Path is a book that broke my heart, challenged my pre-conceptions about homelessness and yet it was an ultimately uplifting and redemptive read. The bond of love between Raynor and Moth is evident throughout the book as their relationship is put through tests that most of us would blanch at.
They’ll be no spoilers here – but I urge you to read this book, and buy it for your friends.
Here’s a link to Alison Bick’s Etsy Page with her range of Surf images (see the mug in the cover photo)
You might be wondering about the pictures in the blog post. These are painted by local artist, Sarah Eddy who has been journeying herself around the coastal path.