33. Raynor Winn; From Homelessness to Author, Backpacking the South Coast Path and the Power of a Long Walk - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 33
August 28 , 2018

33. Raynor Winn; From Homelessness to Author, Backpacking the South Coast Path and the Power of a Long Walk

The bailiffs took their family home in the same week Raynor Winn and husband Moth were told – completely out of the blue – Moth had a terminal illness. Destitute and homeless, they decided to backpack along the windswept cliffs of the South West Coast Path that runs the length of the west coast of England. 630 miles of steep, unforgiving terrain. With very little money for food and only a tent for shelter they began to walk and walk and walk… this is their story. 


On this episode we cover:

Going from homeless to being published by Penguin (with her new book The Salt Path)

How Raynor and Moth became homeless

The farm in Wales they called home

Investing in a business that failed

Battling a court case and losing

Being evicted from their family home

The shock Moth being unexpectedly told he has two years to live

The neuro-degenerative brain disease he was diagnosed with

Hiding under the stairs from the bailiffs

The book that inspired them to start walking

Embarking on the South West Coast Path

Carrying heavy rucksacks

630 miles of difficult terrain with an ascent close to climbing Everest nearly four times

The path through Somerset, North Devon, Cornwall, South Devon and Dorset

‘A strip of wilderness that sits between every day life and the endless horizon’

Encountering terrifying storms

Lands End in a horrendous storm

Nothing but the Atlantic in between them and Canada

Realising they were free

The rural homeless communities they encountered – living in horseboxes and sheds or in camps in the woods

Seasonal work that doesn’t pay a living wage for Cornish locals

Feeling threatened by unpredictable fellow humans when in towns

Being surprised by being ‘the old backpackers’

The negative response when they said they were homeless

The point of transition to realising what homelessness meant

Being kicked by a woman whilst scrabbling for dropped coins on the street

How her sense of self started to disintegrate

Their weekly income of about £30 a week

Living on very little food – super noodles!

Characters they met along the way – including the person who predicted they would ‘walk with a tortoise’

A tortoise called Lettuce

Moth growing stronger along the journey

Swimming with Portheras Cove on a beautiful warm evening

Outrunning the tide with a tent on rebuilding their self-worth

Encountering a stranger whose life was changed by an article she wrote for The Big Issue – magazine sold by homeless for homeless

How offers of kindness were so life affirming when they had nothing

Getting free meals in the name of poet Simon Armitage

Getting stoned with surfers in horse boxes

Seeing the Plymputh to Santander ferry heading off, knowing that this was the ferry they had taken with their children when they were younger

How their two children, both at university, reacted to their parents homelessness

How Moth’s impending decline inspired her to write the book

What their plans are now

Whether there will be a Salt Path Movie

How the walk gave them an incredible landscape for them to try to rebuild themselves

How salty blackberries made the most memorable moment from the walk

Skylarks and their song