The Salt Path by Raynor Winn: finding strength and facing illness with a 630-mile hike

“Most people go through their whole lives without answering their own questions: What am I, what do I have within me? The big stuff. What a waste.”

I read The Salt Path by Raynor Winn back in late August, just after I’d finished hiking The Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland.

I love adventure memoirs like these – The Sun is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert was probably my favourite book of the year. I adored The Salt Path, too.

The Salt Path tells Raynor Winn’s true story of losing everything. Just days after learning that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. Suddenly homeless and faced with Moth’s declining health, they make the impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall. It’s a decision that saves them.

A 630-mile hike isn’t easy for anyone, least of all when you’re terminally ill and with next to no money for provisions, comfort, and gear. Raynor and Moth’s courage is incredible to witness, proving just how much strength we really have inside us. It’s also a testament to the power of nature as a safe space, something I’ve realised time and again in recent years.

“I made tea while Moth read from the tiny slim volume of Beowulf, the only book we carried. Is it human nature to crave ritual? Is it instinctive to construct a safe environment before we allow ourselves to sleep? Can we ever truly rest without that security?”

Carrying only the essentials 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 and life-affirming journey.

Powerfully written and unflinchingly honest, The Salt Path is ultimately a portrayal of home—how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways. The risk of homelessness is closer than we’d care to think about, and Raynor Winn’s memoir opens our hearts to the people facing it – people just like us.

“If we hadn’t done this there’d always have been things we wouldn’t have known, a part of ourselves we wouldn’t have found, resilience we didn’t know we had.”

If you’re looking for a book to help you to find your courage, inspire you to make bold and adventurous decisions in the year ahead, and open your heart, The Salt Path is right at the top of my list of recommendations.

You can get your copy of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn on Amazon or at your local bookstore.

Lucy
It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.