After losing their home and business, Raynor and Moth receive more bad news. Moth is diagnosed with CBD. There’s nothing they can do for him. When hiding out from the bailiffs, Raynor spots a guide to walking to South West Coastal Path. What if they just walk? Leave what’s left of their life behind, and live in a tent.

Why does nature writing have to come with a helping of personal tragedy these days? I felt thoroughly depressed reading the introductory paragraphs. Sometimes the tragedy is just an aside but it really is dominant throughout their whole walk. An anecdote can’t go by without reminding the reader of their lack of money, homelessness or Moth’s failing health.

I can’t deny that life struck some hard blows one after another. Going on a long distance walk is one way of not dealing with it. Raynor uses this book to talk about the unfairness of legal aid reforms and the state of homelessness in Britain. She does come across a bit like she thinks she’s better than other homeless people, but maybe that’s just how you feel when it first happens.

It’s all from Raynor’s perspective, and it would have been good to know a bit more about what Moth thought about it all. He’s the one with a degenerative disease after all, and it’s all about Raynor’s feelings. What about the trip made his symptoms better? Was it the exercise he was told to avoid? Ceasing his prescription medicine? Or simply the removal of stress?

Had I seen enough things? When I could no longer see them, would I remember them, and would just the memory be enough to fill me up and make me whole?… Could anyone ever have enough memories?

I picked this up because I’d quite like to walk the South West Coastal Path one day, I’ve walked bits of it and it ends not too far from where I live. This book did not really inspire me. The bits about the culture or history were brief and felt inserted into the narrative.

I got a bit irritated with their attitude to money. I’m assuming they went from comfortable to nothing overnight, but there’s a lack of self-awareness in the writing. ยฃ48 a week isn’t a lot for two people to live off, but it will go a lot further if you don’t buy lunch in tourist cafes. I appreciate the need for some high calorie food and occasional indulgences, but they had cooking equipment, they could have made cheese toasties instead of buying fancy paninis.

A lot of people will find this book inspirational, but I was more in the mood for a book about escape to the natural world, not the struggles of the real world, so it missed its mark with me at this time.

Listening Notes

The author is 50 at the time of their walk, but for some reason they chose an 80-something narrator. OK, the reason probably being that Anne Reid was on Coronation Street, but she just sounded frail and a bit pitiful to me, making Raynor seem much older than she was. It improved with a faster speed, but I think she made Raynor come across as a bit whiny.

ATY: 50. A book that includes a journey

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Book Source: Purchased