Though the Winns dwelt in South Wales they chose to take the South West Path, which is a long path over six hundred miles in length. If you take a map of Britain you will notice a large peninsula in the south western corner. This is Devon and Cornwall. The path begins on the cliffs above a town called Minehead, a name derived from the old Celtic for big headland. While the Winns were jobless they had access to the meagre sum of forty eight pounds a week, just enough to purchase cheap rations for the journey, which often consisted in part of noodles and chocolateor cereal bars. They had a small tent. Accommodation was by wild camping, which consists of sleeping out without permission from a landowner or finding a cheap campsite. Often this meant arising earlier than the landowners. They managed to avoid trouble. Washing consisted of using site facilities where possible or going to the sea. Occasionally they picked mussels on the sea shore and boiled them. Contact with their adult children,both at university, was a daily call on a mobile phone (cell phone.)
As the walk was in Spring they were subject to the vagaries of British weather, which can be stormy occasionally this meant getting very wet and having to dry out.
Raynor noticed that the exercise seemed to be doing her husband good, and this gave her a faint hope that he could exercise his way to health. This is a vain hope, the cry of a despairing soul, for there is no cure for diseases in the Parkinson's family. Progress is inevitable and all that can be done is to stave off the inevitable. But her enduring hope is a testimony to the human spirit and the wonders of love.
The Winns met people on their journey, and the encountered varied in their attitude. Some were obnoxious, like the obviously well off woman who didn't care that her dogs had discomfited a pair of tramps. Others were polite, but were evidently frightened of homeless people, for whatever reasons one can only but infer. Did they feel that they would be robbed, or do the homeless remind the secure folk of the chasm of insecurity that lurks on the edge of normal life. Yet there were many gentle and kindly people, who gave the Winns comfort on their voyage. Some acts of generosity were given to the Winns, a testimony to the human capacity for goodness.
Though the walk was made in a traumatic time in the Winn's life the book is never depressing, as their is an undercurrent of hope and goodness that flows through the text, like a river in a subterranean cavern that at times bubbles happily to the surface to refresh those who drink it.