Restrictions to beach access on the Jurassic Coast imposed after Tuesday’s fatal rock fall near Burton Bradstock have been lifted today, but visitors are warned to continue to take extra care and avoid areas with cliff backdrops.
On Tuesday, hundreds of tonnes of rock fell when part of a cliff collapsed near Burton Bradstock, killing a 22-year-old woman on the beach below.
The South West Coast Path between Lyme Regis and West Bexington has now been reopened for all sections, except for the stretch between Freshwater Holiday Park and Hive Beach. This will be reviewed when further safety assessments have been carried out.
Landslips and rockfalls are common along this stretch of the south coast, which is constantly eroding, and this is one of the reasons it has been designated a World Heritage Site.
But the recent exceptional rainfall has left some of the cliffs in West Dorset in an unstable condition, with a potentially heightened risk of additional landslides, mudslides and rockfalls.
Parts of the coast where visitors can access the beaches away from cliffs, such as Cogden, Hive, West Bay, Seatown, Charmouth and Lyme Regis beaches, are open as normal. There are many beautiful beaches and seafront walks where visitors can enjoy days out.
The advice is to stay well away from the cliffs and mudflows at all times, and to beware of quicksand. Visitors should also be aware of the tides, as it is possible to become cut off from the normal exit points to and from the beaches.
Additional warning signs have been put up along the coast, and additional public notices are being prepared for tourist information centres and other strategic points in the area.
Miles Butler, Director for Environment at Dorset County Council, said:
We closed areas on Tuesday as a precaution following the tragic incident at Burton Bradstock. However, while there is always a risk of landslips along the Jurassic Coast, we now feel it is appropriate to lift these restrictions. As always, we would urge people to avoid the cliffs and mudslides and heed the warning signs along the coast. Those signs are there for a reason and we would strongly advise people to take notice of what they are saying. If visitors are careful in those areas Dorset is a wonderful and interesting holiday location with a great deal to offer, and beautiful family friendly beaches.
Robert Gould, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said:
West Dorset is open to welcome visitors, our main bathing beaches at Charmouth and Lyme Regis are open. The advice is come and visit, but if you are exploring the coast be aware of the risk of rockfalls, follow the advice signs and keep away from some areas.