Eastbourne cliff fall cuts off public path near lighthouse

A cliff fall near Eastbourne has taken out a section of the public path which has prompted the coastguard to warn people of the dangers of the ‘continually eroding’ coastline.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 4:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 12:18 pm

There was another cliff fall at Belle Tout which saw several tonnes of chalk fall onto the beach below on August 1 which has triggered the coastguard’s fresh warning.

Drone footage shows the fall has cut off a path used by the public to get to Belle Tout lighthouse, which is now used as holiday accommodation.

The lighthouse was moved in 1999 due to coastal erosion.

Photo from Birling Gap Coastguard. SUS-210308-131513001

David Shaw, the owner of Belle Tout Lighthouse B&B, said “It’s a bit close for comfort but we’ve learnt to live with it.”

David has been at the lighthouse since 2008 and said he’s always been aware of the cliff eroding.

He said he’s been told the cliff erodes at an average of 60cm per year, and being about 20 metres from the edge, he said “We’ve got a few decades left. We can look at the immediate future with confidence. But one day it will catch up with us.”

A photo from Birling Gap Coastguard shows how the path ends suddenly due to the fall.

Belle Tout cliff fall shows part of the path is now gone. Photo from Eddie Mitchell. SUS-210208-111333001

In a statement with the photo, the coastguard said, “Hopefully this photo can serve as a reminder as to why we ask people to stay away from cliff edges and bases.

“This huge missing section has cut right into the old path to the east of Belle Tout lighthouse. As you can see by the photo, collapses can happen a fair way in from the actual edge.

“Please, please, please stay away from the edge.”

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said, “The UK’s coastline is continually eroding, with pieces falling from cliffs that can be just a few small rocks or as large as a car. It’s impossible to predict when the next piece might fall or how big it will be.

Belle Tout cliff fall. Photo from Eddie Mitchell. SUS-210208-111321001

“Periods of intense rainfall followed by dryer, warmer weather in the summer can make cliff edges more vulnerable.

“We’ve seen a number of cliff collapses in recent months} and it’s clear that some are unstable in places.

“Please stay well back from cliff edges, wear appropriate and sturdy footwear when visiting the coast and ensure that you check tide times and the weather conditions before setting out.”

Belle Tout cliff fall. Photo from Eddie Mitchell. SUS-210208-111344001

If you or someone else is in difficulty call 999 and ask for the coastguard.