Dorset…..Getting Smaller By The Day

A GIANT chunk of Dorset cliff is hitting the headlines after falling on to the beach near Durdle Door and taking a bite of the coast path with it.

What with Lyme Regis, Burton Bradstock, West Bay and Bowleaze all joining the slide in to the sea there soon won’t be much left of the county.

So it is perhaps not surprising that property “For Sale” signs are shooting up, but these aren’t being nailed to posts by worried owners with homes on threatened sections of coast but by owners with property at inland areas such as Beaminster and Dorchester.

They’ve all stuck £20,000 on their asking price because they can now legitimately advertise that they are “near (er) the coast” or that their property comes with “dramatic views of the Dorset coast”.

Some property owners living a little too near this flurry of landslips are finding their location a bit more dramatic than they would like.

Coastguards are warning walkers away from the latest landslip at Durdle Door and a path on Portland is causing a few problems for walkers because a cliff fall has left one section of pavement with a large hole through which you can see straight down to rocks 50ft below!

Weymouth is not immune with constant problems in the Castle Cove area not to mention the famous day when half the Nothe Gardens slid into the sea and walkers suddenly found the footpath they were descending had a 10ft drop before it continued lower – much lower – down the slope.

You’ve only got to look to the right as you drive on to Portland to see cliff slopes covered in scree, the cliffs and paths round Lulworth Cove are definitely not the most stable and nor are those round Osmington and Preston.

Only eight months ago there was an earthquake measuring 2.0 on the Richter Scale just south of Weymouth so the area is hardly mundane when it comes to land movement.

The whole of this stretch of coastline is vulnerable to stability problems, if not from unusually heavy rain causing the ground to sag and slip then from the sea eroding it away.

Some sections are so vulnerable that they are only preserved by massive coastal protection works notably along Preston Beach Road and at Newtons Cove as well as the huge work to protect Portland which has been devastated by past storms.

Yet danger seems to attract those unwilling to consider personal safety, so the poor old coastguard is left practically tearing their hair out as  children explore landslips, fossil hunters search for fresh finds underneath the latest cliff fall and scores of warning signs directing walkers and visitors away from danger areas are blithely ignored.

There has already been one tragedy where a woman was killed by a cliff fall at Burton Bradstock and we can only hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

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