I bought The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn in a bookshop in Bath in mid-September, having hugely enjoyed Winn’s previous book about homelessness and walking the south west coastal path (see my blog on The Salt Path). The Wild Silence picks up where that left off, with Ray and Moth living in the village of Polruan, across the river from Fowey, in south Cornwall.
Having kindly been offered somewhere to live after completing the coastal path, Ray and Moth are struggling to settle in to a new life with four walls and a roof, surrounded by village life. Moth is doing a degree and coping with his health condition and Ray is finding it so hard to sleep she often goes up to sit on the coastal path at night or sleeps in their old tent, which she pitches in a corner of the bedroom.
The villagers of Polruan offer their friendship, but Ray finds it hard to trust in people again, after she and Moth lost the home and their livelihood in Wales, and then survived homeless on the coastal path, often being judged by the people they met along the way. When she realises Moth is forgetting their epic walk, she eventually finds refuge in writing The Salt Path, reliving their time camping on the wild headlands and capturing their experience in what went on to be a bestseller.
The Wild Silence then leads to the next chapter in their story, when a reader offers them a run-down farmhouse to rent with an orchard and an over-farmed piece of land that needs to be brought back to life. They move in and Moth’s health improves again as he spends more time outside in nature, replacing his studying with hard physical labour. But another walking adventure then calls them, and they head off to Iceland with friends to see if they can re-capture the wild silence of the coastal path.
This is a great read for anyone who enjoyed The Salt Path and wants to keep following this remarkably story.