At Walton on the Essex coast a bunch of ragged folks with empty, staring eyes are standing simply above the tide line, their ft tangled in seaweed. They’ve come ashore on the tip of the Naze peninsula, a low finger of land the place, in 1720, a stone tower was constructed to warn mariners. They maintain their tattered cloaks round themselves and appear to be ready. Are they ghostly survivors of yet one more village swallowed by the rising sea? Received’t anybody assist them?Future prophecy or just a commemoration of the drowned village 9 miles offshore, Nabil Ali’s highly effective The Sea Individuals sculpture greets us as we stroll round this fascinating headland. After 200 miles (of the deliberate complete of 500) strolling the English coast, now we have left Suffolk behind, gone deep into Essex and begun to grasp why Seaside of Desires, this curious and idiosyncratic arts challenge that we’re on, is ideal for our occasions.Seaside of Desires, this curious and idiosyncratic arts challenge we’re on, is ideal for our timesPeople are becoming a member of us for a couple of miles, generally a complete day or extra, others simply connect themselves, however all of them wish to discuss and listen to one another’s tales. Within the final 18 months everybody’s life appears to have been irrevocably altered: bereavements, job modifications, and home strikes are plentiful. At Wrabness Angela tells me that she’s moved home and adjusted to residence working. “I’ll by no means return. All that point spent commuting. By no means once more.” One other walker chimes in, “No extra losing cash on garments and lunches!”Generally the stroll seems like a state-of-the-nation investigation. At Harwich, Chris tells me how his constructing challenge in Peterborough is delayed by pandemic-induced shortages. “Amazon use the identical paper for packaging that’s used to again plasterboard. Now we are able to’t get plasterboard.” Satirically, pre-pandemic, he had labored on the development of Amazon’s largest warehouse. One vital change, frequent to everybody who joins us, is that they’ve began strolling extra. Footpaths round cities and villages are getting used once more, generally for the primary time in a few years. One walker, Christine, tells me how she stopped utilizing her automotive to get to walks and as a substitute went straight from the door. Within the course of she found two beautiful lakes close to her home that she hadn’t identified about.Passing by Clacton behind the Seaside of Desires flag. {Photograph}: Kevin RushbyThis discovery of native paths can include disagreeable surprises. Individuals discover their means overgrown and inexplicably blocked. The coastal path we’re following often provides up and heads inland. Landowners deter ramblers with free canine, barbed wire and, mostly, indicators: “Non-public Highway” is a favorite, typically ignoring the very fact that there’s a public proper of means. The seashore is a serious battleground, and I hear many complaints of high-handed annexation by the rich and effectively linked. Fortuitously you may normally stroll between the excessive and low water marks as it’s crown land. Often now we have come throughout brave locals with secateurs and clippers, clearing their very own footpaths.Harwich has been a shock. The outdated city is an actual magnificence, its streets lined with great vibrant homes and the postbox has a crocheted cowl adorned with sea creatures. All of us agree that the Alma is the very best pub but; it stands reverse the previous home of Christopher Jones, who was captain of the Mayflower that sailed to the brand new world in 1620. Additional on is the Electrical Palace cinema, in-built 1911 and certainly one of Britain’s first, certainly one of a choose few that also present movies.A lighthouse at Dovercourt, Harwich. {Photograph}: Richard Humphrey/AlamyOn this stroll there at all times appears to be somebody with key data: this time it’s Laura, who works on the Electrical Palace, telling me the tragic story of William Friese-Greene, movement image pioneer who lived on close by Cliff Highway for a few years. Regardless of designing new cameras and an early system of color, he was solely credited after he died. (He’s buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery.)On the outskirts, Marion, a walker from Suffolk, asks native hikers the place the positioning of Warners Dovercourt Vacation Camp was. When it’s identified, she tells an emotional story of how her great-aunt introduced her right here as a toddler to clarify how she had escaped from Nazi Germany. Marion’s dad and mom had additionally escaped however would by no means converse of it. Now she discovered that her great-aunt had additionally helped carry out Jewish kids and plenty of got here right here (the newly constructed camp was became a army base throughout the battle), residing in easy seashore cabins that had been chilly in winter. Native folks rallied spherical with hot-water bottles. Many of the dad and mom of these kids had been murdered within the Holocaust.One other walker has one other reminiscence. The camp reverted to a vacation resort after the battle, the place, as a youngster within the early Nineteen Seventies, she had a Saturday job. “I can keep in mind my first pay packet. I went out and purchased a document.” She laughs, “I’m afraid it was Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Center of the Highway.” As if this isn’t embarrassing sufficient, it seems that the camp had change into the placement for the tv sequence Hello-de-Hello!, and plenty of of her mates grew to become extras on set all through the Eighties. Your entire camp was razed earlier than anybody on the BBC might fee a revival.Alongside this ever-changing shoreline the wealthy man’s personal seashore isn’t any safer than the poor man’s cabinWe transfer on. The coast is embellished with sea lavender, samphire and valerian. Curlews mew like misplaced kittens and oystercatchers clack. The pink elmleaf blackberry flowers are dancing with tiny orange butterflies. This coast is endlessly altering. Fallen timber lie within the water, their roots worn away. In a single spot builders are throwing up what seems like a duplicate of the White Home, even because the tender earthy cliff is creeping nearer.Artist Nabil Ali with a determine from his Essex seashore set up, The Sea Individuals. {Photograph}: Kevin RushbyThe Naze peninsula at Walton is itself retreating by about two metres a 12 months and there, subsequent to that evocative group of figures, we meet the artist, Nabil Ali. He explains how he made casts of a 14th-century cranium then modelled figures on willow types utilizing conventional plasters combined from wax, seashore clay and powdered sea shells. The eyes had been reduce from anti-aircraft shell casings.“It’s about loss,” Nabil says. “Lack of land and lack of residence.” It’s a theme that may change into all too acquainted alongside this ever-changing shoreline the place the wealthy man’s personal seashore isn’t any safer than the poor man’s seashore cabin. Comply with Kevin’s stroll at Seaside of Desires. Additional data on the world at Go to Essex. Nabil Ali’s The Sea Individuals sculpture has but to discover a everlasting residence