rashbre central: Budleigh Salterton and the healing of the coastal path @BudleighLitFest #literary

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Budleigh Salterton and the healing of the coastal path @BudleighLitFest #literary

My sunny picture shows a more typical scene, rather than today's short, rainy, journey to Budleigh Salterton, on the rugged 630 mile South West Coastal Path.

The naturist beach was drenched and deserted, but the main streets were packed with undeterred folk carrying umbrellas and in hooded jackets attending the annual Literary Festival, which is in full swing.

We stopped off to see a couple of writers, both with direct connections and discoveries related to that long path around the end of the country.

First was Raynor Winn, who described a rapid and terrible sequence of events. She learned that her husband, Moss, was terminally ill, their home was taken away and they lost their livelihood.

Penniless, homeless and with little time, they made a brave and impulsive decision to walk and wild camp along the full distance of the sea-swept path from Somerset via Lands End and all the way to Dorset. Their walk became a remarkable journey, and the now best-selling, The Salt Path, is the honest and life-affirming story of it.

For entirely different reasons, in 2015, Katherine May set out to walk the SWCP in her attempt to understand why she had stopped coping with everyday life.

Her walk was completed in many stages, with an added complexity being that she lived in Whitstable between attempting her sections of the walk. That's some four or five hours away from even the nearest sections of the path.

As she walked, her answers begin to unfold. Her book, The Electricity of Every Living Thing, tells the story of her revelation and re-evaluation of her life.

Both accounts appear as so much more than guides or travel logs. They describe transitions from worldly worries through to a calmed mind and onward to self discovery.

Hearing them talk reminded me of times on my (much shorter!) equivalent walks and also of sometimes being alone cycling. I can recognise the personal mini-adventures that occur, sometimes in the scenery and other times in the mind.

Either way, they are times to enjoy and cherish.

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