Pair in crumbling cliff-top peril at Birling Gap

Pair in crumbling cliff-top peril (Pic: PA)

Pair in crumbling cliff-top peril (Pic: PA)

First published in News

Two sightseers stand near the edge of crumbling chalk cliffs seemingly unaware of the threat it could collapse at any minute.

The pair were pictured at the top of Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, where around three metres of cliff has fallen in recent months.

Close to where they were standing, a large crack could be seen on the cliff-top - a stark sign of how precarious it is at the beauty spot.


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Bob Jeffery, a spokesman for the Eastbourne RNLI, warned people to steer clear of the cliff-top edge.

Mr Jeffery said: "We repeat the warning that we have issued so many times before, and that is to stay away from the cliff edge.

"People might think they are getting a good picture by going close to the edge, but it might be the last photo they ever take.

"It's not solid rock up there. It's soft and, particularly when it's full of water, it becomes extremely unstable."

Winter storms have caused the kind of damage that the National Trust - which is responsible for this stretch of coastline - was not expecting for years to come.

The trust has previously warned that with more extreme weather predicted, the rate of change on Britain's coastline will speed up.

Jane Cecil, National Trust general manager for the South Downs, said: "People have seen the amount of cliff we have lost this winter. They are very unpredictable.

"That crack has been there for some time but it could go at any minute, so we would ask people to keep a safe distance."

Elsewhere at Birling Gap, demolition work continues on a former coastguard cottage left teetering on the cliff edge.

A five-strong team of demolition men have been working for the past fortnight to take down the end-of-terrace property, left just six inches from the end of the cliff.

The cottage once formed a terrace of seven ex-coastguard properties, built on the cliff top overlooking the English Channel between 1800 and 1820.

But due to the pace of erosion, two cottages had to be demolished in 1994 and in the early 2000s, and now a third one is set to follow suit.

The National Trust owns more than 740 miles (1,191km) of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, around a tenth of the total coastline for the three countries.

Comments (7)

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12:05pm Fri 4 Apr 14

MICKY389 says...

No doubt these idiots will expect to be rescued should they survive the fall. People can be incredibly thick.
No doubt these idiots will expect to be rescued should they survive the fall. People can be incredibly thick. MICKY389
  • Score: 10

12:39pm Fri 4 Apr 14

spurspeter says...

We were there on Wednesday afternoon and it's surprising (to me, anyway) how many people there were doing exactly the same sort of thing. There was even a photography standing at the end of the wall just by the large crack, and that was despite the "do not cross" tape that had been put there. Idiots all.
We were there on Wednesday afternoon and it's surprising (to me, anyway) how many people there were doing exactly the same sort of thing. There was even a photography standing at the end of the wall just by the large crack, and that was despite the "do not cross" tape that had been put there. Idiots all. spurspeter
  • Score: 12

5:12pm Fri 4 Apr 14

sussexram40 says...

Total idiots.
Total idiots. sussexram40
  • Score: 8

8:12am Sat 5 Apr 14

Justin says...

Life's not much fun if you don't take risks. So long as they are not endangering or inconveniencing anyone else and are happy to take the consequences (death in this case) if the cliff edge breaks, good luck to them!
Life's not much fun if you don't take risks. So long as they are not endangering or inconveniencing anyone else and are happy to take the consequences (death in this case) if the cliff edge breaks, good luck to them! Justin
  • Score: -6

8:52am Sat 5 Apr 14

Juleyanne says...

They must be the most stupid people in Sussex! Not only are they putting their lives at risk but in a local news video, they also had a dog who was off the lead and inches from the edge of the crumbling cliff at it's highest point!
Idiots like this should be charged both by the police and by the RSPCA for endangering themselves, wilful neglect of their dog and potentially costing thousands in rescue/retrieval by emergency services and putting others lives in danger attempting to rescue or retrieve them.
They must be the most stupid people in Sussex! Not only are they putting their lives at risk but in a local news video, they also had a dog who was off the lead and inches from the edge of the crumbling cliff at it's highest point! Idiots like this should be charged both by the police and by the RSPCA for endangering themselves, wilful neglect of their dog and potentially costing thousands in rescue/retrieval by emergency services and putting others lives in danger attempting to rescue or retrieve them. Juleyanne
  • Score: 9

9:19am Sat 5 Apr 14

Morpheus says...

Locals might be expected to know what has happened to the cliffs this winter but visitors to the area especially from abroad may not. Surely there should be warning signs.
Locals might be expected to know what has happened to the cliffs this winter but visitors to the area especially from abroad may not. Surely there should be warning signs. Morpheus
  • Score: 1

9:54am Sat 5 Apr 14

Telscombe Cliffy says...

And those two seagulls, no sense
And those two seagulls, no sense Telscombe Cliffy
  • Score: 1

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