Photo Credit: Penguin Michael Joseph
Some people live to walk. Raynor and Moth walk to live… With thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph, our Joules Book Club pick for October is the moving and uplifting memoir, Landlines by Raynor Winn. Raynor’s powerful new book follows her and her husband Moth’s most adventurous walk ever, as they journey on foot across Great Britain, exploring our relationship to the land, and each other.
We caught up with Raynor to discover her writing process behind her third memoir, and to relive all the highlights from their incredible walk from the Scottish Highlands to their Cornish coastal home.
I knew before we started the walk that I would be writing another book at some point – I love the writing process, so would have hated to think that The Wild Silence was my last book. But that wasn’t the reason for the walk, it was all about Moth’s declining health and the hope that another long walk would stall the progression of his symptoms, as it had when we walked the South West Coast Path. But as we walked I realised what we were experiencing was so incredible I needed to record it, so bought a notebook!
We were met with incredible kindness from complete strangers – people who offered us food and shelter, or lifts from remote hillsides through awful weather. Without that, the walk would still have been possible, but it would have been much harder and at times quite desperate.
We spent two days in torrential rain trapped between rising rivers in a Scottish glen, after Moth took a fall and had concussion. As the storm broke and the rain stopped we looked out of the tent at vast waterfalls pouring down the mountainsides and the river cascading close by. Sunlight broke through the clouds, glancing from the water turning the whole glen into a prism of light. Just in that moment, a stag – who had shared with us the only patch of land that wasn’t under water – shook himself. Droplets of water flew from his body, catching the light, forming a rainbow around him. A magical, unforgettable sight.
There was a week in West Somerset, when we were nearing the end of our walk and it seemed as if the rest of the journey would be downhill and easy, but it was the opposite. Moth began to suffer from some kind of digestive issue that progressively got worse, draining him of energy and the will to go on. We camped above the muddy banks of the River Parrett opposite the building site of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, so close to the end, yet on the point of giving up. But then, Moth is Moth and giving up isn’t something he does easily.
In the very north of Scotland we met a rock climber who said that by starting this walk we were putting ourselves ‘in the way of hope’. For the next thousand miles that’s what we did, put ourselves in the way of hope, until we reached the south coast of Cornwall and I came to realise that hope is a choice, you have to choose to let it in. If you have hope you can’t fail to be positive.
Buy some properly fitting boots, and failing that lots of packs of blister plasters!
Thank you so much for speaking with us Raynor – we hope your feet have recovered!