THE coastguard has warned visitors of a popular tourist destination to "stay away" from the cliff edge after another large crack was spotted.

People visiting Birling Gap and Belle Tout lighthouse have been urged to stay away from cliff edges and bases after a large crack was seen in a section cutting into the old path to the east of the lighthouse.

It is the same section of pathway that was the scene of a huge cliff fall earlier this month.

Pictures taken from the site show the deep crack forming in the cliffside, while dozens of tourists stand nearby, seemingly unaware of the danger just metres away.

Writing on Facebook, Eastbourne Coastguard said: "We are blessed with a beautiful coastline but please remember the dangers that are often hidden from sight.

"This is a recent section of pathway that has fallen to the east of Belle tout lighthouse and as you can see another large crack remains.

The Argus: Visitors of Belle Tout lighthouse unaware of the crack Visitors of Belle Tout lighthouse unaware of the crack

"This is the latest of several recent cliff falls this year.

"This is why we ask people to stay away from the cliff edges both above and below.

"Please, please, please stay away from the edge.

"In a coastal emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard!"

In the past year there have been almost 50 cliff falls in East Sussex, as well as 13 incidents of people being stranded on the beach after being cut off by the tide.

While a lot of people have been taking to the clifftops and going for beachside walks during the pandemic, the numbers are expected to rise as the weather improves and lockdown restrictions are eased.

Despite monitoring, the vast majority of cliff falls happen suddenly with no warning signs.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the Belle Tout lighthouse could be moved further away from a cliff edge within the next few decades after a "worrying" cliff fall took out a public path.

The bed and breakfast was moved 56ft back from the edge of the cliff in 1999 by the engineering work of Abbey Pynford.

But it now has just a "few decades" before cliff erosion becomes critical and it has to be moved back again, its owner told The Argus

David Shaw, who bought the building near Beachy Head in 2008, said there is "some time left" before the erosion reaches a critical state.

He said: "It is worrying that we had this big fall, worryingly close.

"It is in that particular section only and that is the nature of the erosion.

"Different areas collapse from time to time and we did know that was a vulnerable spot.

"That is the place where the cliff edge came within a metre of two within the road.

"If a fall was going to happen, we anticipated it would be there anyway so it is not a total surprise."