In 2013, Raynor Winn’s world fell apart. First, she and husband Moth lost their home when a business deal turned sour; then Moth was diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration (CBD), a rare and potentially terminal illness affecting movement and memory. What happened next changed their lives in unexpectedly positive ways, the ripples of which continue to this day.

The story of their 630-mile nomadic expedition around the South West Coast Path, with all their worldly positions on their backs, was the subject of a hugely successful memoir. The Salt Path transformed Raynor into a million-selling author and a firm favourite on the festival circuit. Such a personal story, set against an achingly beautiful backdrop, was crying out for a film adaptation. This is due to hit cinemas this year, with Gillian Anderson (The X-Files's Agent Scully) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise) as Raynor and Moth, with a script by Devonian Rebecca Lenkiewicz, whose stellar CV includes Colette starring Keira Knightley, and #metoo drama She Said featuring Carey Mulligan. And Raynor returns to the stage with the Gigspanner Big Band – led by former Steeleye Span violinist Peter Knight - in Saltlines, a synergy of her spoken word pieces and traditional folk songs inspired by the coast. On June 1, the tour visits the Taunton Brewhouse – the venue that kicked off its first tour, and ends its current sortie.

Great British Life: The Gigspanner Big Band approached Raynor to create the Saltlines show, in Taunton June 1The Gigspanner Big Band approached Raynor to create the Saltlines show, in Taunton June 1 (Image: Elly Lucas)

It’s not every day you see yourself portrayed by a major star on the big screen. 'I can’t say ‘surreal’ enough times,' she laughs. Husband and wife went on set in Porlock. 'Just watching Gillian and Jason being Raynor and Moth in that landscape, which we hadn’t visited since we walked through it with rucksacks on our backs, was like watching our own lives through the lens of time - a profoundly emotional experience.' The pair have seen the film at a private screening in London in March. 'I didn’t know what to think about Gillian Anderson – she always has such a perfectly polished exterior!' Raynor admits. Her verdict? 'She was remarkable - she captured the feel of it all incredibly well.' She is equally complimentary about Jason Isaac’s portrayal of Moth. 'He was keen to deliver a view of CBD that people would understand, and he certainly captured something of Moth’s slow decline, the emotional turmoil and maybe a little bit of the fear – he's done a good job.'

Raynor is characteristically modest about the immense appeal of her literary debut – after all, it was never meant for public consumption. 'I was just trying to capture a moment for Moth,' she says. 'It’s amazing how it has resonated with people.' She’s thought long and hard about the reasons for that. As well as saving them from being tied to a bricks-and-mortar home that no longer existed, the mammoth hike turned out to be the perfect physical stimulus for Moth, who found his symptoms lessened on the move. 'No matter how bad life gets, you can always rewrite that next chapter,' she muses. 'Not many of us get through life without things going wrong, whether emotionally, financially or health wise. We ask, how am I going to get through it? Moth and I didn’t listen to the voices we could have, or take the route mapped out for us. We made the decision to write our next chapter a different way.'

Great British Life: The first 20 miles of the South West Coast Path saw the couple explore the Somerset coastline. The first 20 miles of the South West Coast Path saw the couple explore the Somerset coastline. (Image: Getty)

The path, she explains, was like a third character in the book. 'It takes on a life of its own. It became the friend we walked with, a presence that would put its arm around you and say, it’s going to be OK. Keep going. Even now, when I don’t know where life is taking me, I find myself on the path – and things fall back into place.'While only 20 miles of the South West Coast Path are in Somerset, they are arguably the most important 20 miles, its killer inclines a baptism of fire. Minehead is the official starting point of the long-distance route, its marker a statue of a pair of hands holding a map. 'There was a real sense of anticipation – and absolute fear when we saw the cliffs!' laughs Raynor, adding with feeling: 'Our time there was very much about looking ahead. We were moving into the South West peninsula and leaving the main body of the country behind, seeing the Welsh coastline recede into the distance.'

In those early days, they passed through 'fantastic little places' like Porlock Weir. Twenty years ago, a 6,000-year-old shingle bank was breached by flood waters; while wildlife thrived in the resulting brackish wetland, the skeletal remains of trees killed by the saltwater bear testament to what went before. Meanwhile, a petrified forest dating back to the last Ice Age can be seen at low tide. 'Walking among the dead tree trunks on the beach was one of the most memorable parts of the walk,' says Raynor. Pretty little Culbone church, on the fringes of Exmoor, has bewitched many a traveller, and the Winns were no exception. 'I felt an incredible sense of spirituality there,' Raynor recalls. 'We met someone there, a ‘prophet in the woods’, who predicted we would walk with a tortoise. We did, over a year later – it was being walked on a leash by its owner. It sounds so completely random, people think I’m making it up.'

Raynor’s third book, Landlines, saw them hike 1,000 miles from the tip of Scotland to their home in Cornwall. On this route, they discovered the allure of inner Somerset - flat and expansive, its country lanes and tranquil waterways a far cry from the drama of the coast. Their route included the Parrett estuary - 'We couldn’t help but wonder about the impact the expansion of nuclear power station would have on the amazing birdlife' - and the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal. 'This was a part of Somerset I had never really explored, flat and focused on the water,' Raynor recalls. 'This was a life away from that of the rest of Somerset - the people seemed very much part of the waterway, as if existing on the water’s edge alongside the ducks and moorhens.'

Great British Life: Raynor's third book, Landlines, sees the couple walking the Bridgwater and Taunton canal Raynor's third book, Landlines, sees the couple walking the Bridgwater and Taunton canal (Image: Acceleratorhams/Getty)

The walks continue. In April, Raynor and Moth tackled the 185-mile Thames Path, from the Cotswolds to the City, to raise funds and awareness for the PSPA, an umbrella charity for the twin Parkinsonian conditions CBD and PSP. How does Moth feel about all the attention? 'He’s astounded that anyone would be interested in us going for a walk,' she laughs. 'But he has taken so much from all the people we have met along the way, and the care audiences have for him. It has made him feel very humble that people want to share their stories with us.'

In the meantime, life carries on. Raynor was approached by the Gigspanner Big Band after their manager read The Salt Path and came up with the idea for the show. 'They are such incredibly talented musicians, I couldn’t possibly say no to them,' she says, warmly. While not 'The Salt Path set to music', it nevertheless bears the familiar hallmark of Raynor’s beautiful way with words, this time in short, rhythmic bursts written specially for performance. 'It’s an entity that keeps growing,' she says of this, the sixth full tour. 'It’s a little bit like a wave coming in on the tide. It rolls and breaks into something different in every single gig. The musicians take the music down a different avenue and I have to find a way to fit in. It’s in constant evolution, like nature itself.' Raynor is now in the early days of writing her fourth work - 'it’s about movement, that’s all I can say'- which is due out in 2025. She’s also a keen ambassador for the South West Coast Path Association, the charity that protects and champions the National Trail. What did the South West Coast Path give her? 'It gave me hope to carry on, and that life had possibilities that I thought had been taken away. It also gave me a sense of belonging. It doesn’t matter where I live or what house I go back to – I go back onto the path, and I know I am home.'

The Gigspanner Big Band and Raynor Winn present Saltlines at Taunton Brewhouse on June 1