Rockfall warning over ‘Broadchurch’ cliffs
Sightseers are being urged to keep clear of unstable cliffs after a huge rockfall at West Bay’s ‘Broadchurch’ beach.
A massive landslip dumped more than 1,000 tonnes of rocks and earth on the shore close to the harbour entrance and main beach.
Now the Jurassic Coast Trust is warning people that more could be one the way amid continued heavy rain and strong winds.
Watch the Enviroment Agency video showing the lucky escape of beachgoers who were just metres from the massive landslide.
Sam Scriven, programme manager for Heritage & Conservation with the Jurassic Coast Trust, said: “As with previous falls, there appears to be a relationship between more severe weather and this particular cliff failure, in this case heavy rain and a strong wind.
“I don’t think there can be any doubt that this section of cliff in general is currently in a condition where it is more susceptible to falls.
“My view is that we are experiencing an active period during a long cyclic pattern of erosion and there are many other parts of the cliff face that appear to be similarly vulnerable.”
The rockfall happened without warning. The Jurassic Coast Trust carried out an assessment on Wednesday morning.
Beachgoers, walkers and sightseers are being strongly advised stay well away from the rockfall or the cliffs.
The trust has warned that the next rockfall could happen at any time.
It said that there are plenty of ways to enjoy West Bay and the rest of the coast safely:
Stay away from the edge of cliffs – admire the view from a safe distance. There are fantastic views from the pier in West Bay
Never lie or sit under the cliffs – there is very little chance of survival if caught under a rockfall
Always take note of warning signs – they are there because the dangers are real
Check tide times before you set off- avoid being cut off by incoming tides
Be aware of mud flows
Keep dogs on leads near the cliff edge
Ken Buchan, Dorset County Council’s Coast & Countryside service manager, said: “The Jurassic Coast is a wonderful place to visit, but we urge people to use common sense and caution.
“Stay away from the edge and base of cliffs and always pay attention to warning signs and safety messages.”
A young woman died in a similar rockfall in 2012 at nearby Freshwater beach.
Ocean Rocks founder John Tourgout, who has a Masters degree in Coastal Management, said: “The Jurassic Coast is a dynamic landscape which is constantly shifting and changing and that’s one of the reasons why it is so special but also carries the potential for danger.
“With the success of Broadchurch and the current filming of the Mary Anning film Ammonite, the area is more than popular than ever.
“It’s important to follow all of the safety advice from the Jurassic Coast Trust so you can enjoy the area in the safest way possible.”
The rock formations at West Bay are millions of years old and a famous landmark on the world heritage coast.
We plot the evolution and highpoints of the coast on our popular ‘Tour through Time’ t-shirt spanning 185 million years of geology.
It includes Old Harry Rocks, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Weymouth and Portland, West Bay, Lyme Regis and Ladram Bay
Find out more about the geology of the coast on the Jurassic Coast Trust’s website, which explains more about the incredible evolution of the world heritage site.
PICTURE IN MAIN IMAGE: DORSET COUNTY COUNCIL. VIDEO: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY. ALL OTHER PICTURES: OCEAN ROCKS
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