I am not sure how I got to know about this book, sometimes one article leads to another that leads to another and here I am wanting to read a book. I reserved it at my local library, and some time had gone until it was my turn to get it and I had totally forgotten about it. I knew I only had the 3 weeks allocated to read it, I should not have worried I finished it within one. And I cried at the end, because it was the end, I could not read more about their adventure, and I was left there without Ray and Moth.
‘The possibility of walking the whole coastline from Minehead in Somerset, through north Devon, Cornwall and south Devon to Poole in Dorset seemed just about feasible [in addition to losing ALL their possessions Moth had received a terminal diagnosis] . Yet, in that moment, the idea of walking over hills, beaches, rivers and moorland was as remote and unlikely to happen as us getting out from under the stairs and opening the door. Something that could be done by someone else, not us.
But we’d already rebuilt a ruin, taught ourselves plumbing, brought up two children, defended ourselves against judges and highly paid barristers, so why not?
Because we lost. Lost the case, lost the house, and lost ourselves.
I reached out my hand to lift the book from its box, and looked at the cover: Five Hundred Mile Walkies. It seemed such an idyllic prospect. I didn’t realize then that the South West Coast Path was relentless, that it would mean climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest nearly four times, walking 630 miles on a path often no more than a foot wide, sleeping wild, living wild, working our way through every painful action that had brought us here, to this moment, hiding. I just knew we should walk. And now we had no choice. I’d reached out my hand towards the box and now they knew we were in the house, they’d seen me, there was no way back, we had to go. As we crawled from the darkness beneath the stairs, Moth turned back.
We stood at the front door, the bailiffs on the other side waiting to change the locks, to bar us from our old lives. We were about to leave the dimly lit, centuries-old house that had held us cocooned for twenty years. When we walked through the door we could never ever come back.
We held hands and walked into the light.’
I think you can read the Salt Path in many different ways, depending on your own experiences. I was particularly drawn to its focus on loss of a future that was all planned, and how essential finding a lifeline was, walking, when there was nothing left. The Salt Path also explores the meaning of home and especially homelessness and its impact on ‘ordinary’ people who find themselves in this predicament, and also living in the wild, and appreciating nature and its soothing effect. This is a journey into the couple’s future, about acceptance, without any bitterness (not sure how), with the chance to shed the past and walk into new beginnings.
The Salt Path is a testament to Ray and Moth’s resilience and a book that will give strength to anyone who feels they are lost for whatever reason or need to find a new path when theirs has come to a sudden end. That aside I’m never taking a bath or shower for granted ever again, or washing my hair.
Ray’s style is so approachable that this is a really enjoyable read. You feel you are walking the same path as Ray and Moth, and experience nature like they do.
How am I going to take this book forward? I signed up to walk 1000 miles over the year. it is so powerful to have that sense of direction that already my focus and intentions are changing for this year. I am hoping to explore mental health with some of my friends throughout my journey and share more here. It was hard to find a way forward when I lost Leo and went deeper into my depression. Now that I am better it is time to ensure I do not go back to it.
Have you read the book? What did you think? I would love to hear what you thought!