When a phone call came through from Records Management Unit, Dorset County Council, asking ‘Have you got any jobs on the coast for 10 people who want to undertake a volunteers day?’ the answer was easy – Osmington Mills clean up.
Through the monitoring programme for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, a number of locations have been identified that could do with improvements through some physical hard work. Last year it was the removal of plastic pipes from the abandoned pumping station in the Undercliffs west of Lyme Regis. This year, the removal of rubble and geotextiles from a failed cliff stabilisation structure was the obvious choice. There are three things you don’t do to landslides; dig away the toe, add weight to the top or fill it full of water. Unfortunately several hundred tonnes of gabion baskets filled with rubble were placed on the edge of the car park at Osmington is 1998 and not surprisingly it failed almost immediately.
The task was to remove as much of the alien material as possible; geotextiles on the beach and concrete blocks and bricks from the slope, along with garden waste and rubbish tipped over the edge of the car park more recently. A skip was hired and in torrential rain 10 volunteers, under the expert guidance of the Countryside Service rangers, braved the mud for the morning, recovering up to two tonnes of material to the top of the cliffs. We then retired to the pub to consider what to do next but with driving rain any plans to continue or even go for an exploration of the fascinating geology at Osmington had to be abandoned.
This is a largely a cosmetic job but one with obvious visual improvements to the coast. No doubt we will have to return as the cliffs continue to slip but a big THANK YOU to the volunteers of Records Management Unit and the Countryside Service, well done!
Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager.