Section of West Dorset coastal path closed after crack appears along clifftop

121120-west bay dorset cliff crack-dorset council
Credit: Dorset Council

A 90m-long surface crack has appeared along a clifftop in West Dorset, prompting the surrounding path to be closed.

A 200-metre section of the South West Coast Path near West Bay has now been closed to the public, after the damage grew over time due to 'unstable cliffs'.

Over the last three weeks, Dorset Council says the large section of the cliffs has been monitored, showing signs of steadily collapsing down onto the beach and sea below.

Access to this section of cliff and coast path has now been closed and walkers are also being asked to avoid walking along the beach below the cliffs in this area.

Tara Hansford, Dorset Council Countryside Access Development Officer, said: “Movement in this section has rapidly increased, affecting an extensive area with more cracks appearing and sections collapsing, resulting in extremely dangerous, uneven and unstable ground. All the signs indicate that this whole area of cliff is vulnerable and sections are regularly falling."

Dorset Council's tips on walking along the Jurassic Coast:

  • stay away from the edge of cliffs – admire the view from a safe distance

  • 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

    The path surrounding the damage has been closed off. Credit: Dorset Council

The nearby landowner, Highlands End Holiday Park, has granted access so that the public can still follow the coast path and 'enjoy the cliff top views'.

Sam Scriven, Jurassic Coast Trust, said: “The cliff fall here is still developing and it’s hard to predict how big it will eventually get. There is a large section failing and, when it finally does go, it could be very sudden. It’s vital that people stick to the permissive route and do not go near the cliff edge."