We welcomed award-winning author, Raynor Winn as a charity ambassador in 2020.
Raynor wrote her first book, The Salt Path about her journey walking the 630-mile South West Coast Path. The book tells the story of Raynor and her husband Moth, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, becoming homeless after a bad investment and deciding to walk the Path. The Salt Path is a Sunday Times bestseller and is hugely popular amongst all lovers of the Path, inspiring so many to follow in her footsteps.
Watch the video below to hear Raynor doing a special reading of The Salt Path for us as part of Inspired By The Coast.
We'd also like to share a foreword that Raynor wrote for our Complete Guide to the South West Coast Path (the bible for any Coast Path walker!). It reads:
A Gift of Time and Nature
I have friends who believe there are no adventures to be had on our long-distance paths here in the UK. That our islands don’t hold the excitement that can be found in Europe or the Americas and beyond. They’ve explained this to me as they’ve packed their bags, preparing to head off to walk the Camino de Santiago, or the Appalachian Trail, or to hike up Machu Picchu. Complaining that the West Highland Way is plagued by midges, Offa’s Dyke is just a walk through farmland and the Pennine Way is nothing but bogs and rocks. That our National Trails are just miniature, uninteresting versions of their foreign counterparts.
They argue our walks don’t compare with the soaring drama of the Pacific Crest Trail, or the mountainous spectacle of the Tour de Mont Blanc, and continue to stuff their down jackets and blister plasters into their rucksacks. But when I say - what about the South West Coast Path? - they stop packing. What could they possibly say? What is there that compares with the rollercoaster ride that is the 630 mile trail around the south west of England? It would be easy to say that the South West Coast Path is tame by comparison to all those exotic and foreign paths. How can you compare the adventure of a hike through remote forested mountains, where you’re dependant on dried rations for the majority of the trail, with a walk along the beaches and headlands of home and a cream tea around every corner?
The answer is of course, you can’t. There is no long distance walking trail that compares with the SWCP. Nowhere else can you hike 630 uninterrupted miles of coastline, crossing wild headlands for weeks - or months for some of us - with the calls of oystercatchers in your ears and the smell of salt laden air ever present. This path may not have deep dark forests or towering mountains, yet it still evokes adrenaline, excitement and a sense of wonder. A path that rises and falls from sea level to hundreds of feet and back, over and over until the walker reaches the end only to find they have climbed the equivalent of Everest nearly four times.
If I’d realised it was such a tough walk I might not have tackled it. But if I hadn’t I’d have missed so much. I would never have crossed the wind-swept cliffs of Exmoor, so high that I almost flew with the gulls. Or swam with them as they drifted motionless and sleeping in calm sheltered waters. I wouldn’t have sat in a wet sleeping bag on a foggy hillside and watched the light break over the headlands, as the seals called in the coves below. Or experienced the absolute tranquillity of Fleet Lagoon, or the uncontained, raw power of the elements on the blocky granite cliffs beyond Land’s End. I might never have stood with my face to the Atlantic, nothing between me and Canada other than the wind and raging sea and known the ultimate sense of freedom that comes with such wild exposure.
But more than that, I wouldn’t have bitten into a blackberry that held the taste of a ripe purple autumn on the coast. Something that only comes when the sea mist lays a layer of salt on a perfectly ripe fruit and gives us something that chefs can’t create and money can’t buy. A lightly salted blackberry. Only a walk on the South West Coast Path can give you that – it’s a gift of time and nature.
Obviously my friends have already put their passports away, packed their swimming trunks and are heading out for a cream tea on the clifftops as we speak.