The second day of uncovering The Lost Walks of Rochford took us back to the river and along crumbling sea defences. Sections of the route more lost to cars than lost to the sea. Out past piles of old fridges, moss covered caravans and emerging to pasture and marinas. We found Nirvana just across from a pub full of witches, where the King Canute and the tide story is told in reverse.
The intricacies of the tides and the drifting still moments when river force meets tidal return. Thinking about how to use flags and buoys catching and expressing the knowledge of the ferry man. Once again we learned and got confused about many things including King Canute, the Danes and the Saxons, and Haloween when, we were told, if you run round St Nicholas (Old Nicks?) church so many times and bang on the door you will see him.
Ghost smugglers drinking rum and talking about the old days. More talk abut arts and heritage and funding for regeneration and place making. Are these not places already? Finally arriving in drizzle, out and back to the shipyard catching glimpses of and at last tracking down the anchor of Darwin's Beagle. Well it looked the one in the photo on the BBC webpage and that a good enough truth at the end of a long a bedraggling walk. The Beagle's last days were in the mud after a final career stage being used to catch smugglers in the myriad of inlets and creeks off this bit of England. Smugglers and philosophers, what essence of Darwin rubbed off on the Excise men? Did they even know?
On the trail of the Lost Walks of Rochford today with intrepid explorers not quite pith helmeted and machete wielding but once again at the mercy of head height stinging nettles, flaying brambles and wind driven briars. Ali Pretty, Mike Johnston, Roxie and more from Rochford we set out to discover a couple of lost walks and some stories and thoughts to go with.
A great day of walking, lovely people and good talk.
We found samphires and fennel, onions and potato fields and set off a local recipes string on twitter. We heard of the ostriches that used to roam the Ford factory at Dagenham, reared especially for their feathers. We talked about community and history and regeneration.
We found out about the great brickworks that supplied the brick to build London and drank beer in its name. Someone had died and we lunched on the edge of a small local funeral. Sounds of the wind in the reeds and the trees, distant explosions.