With the Easter break underway, Wealden District Council is reminding anyone heading to the coast that cliff falls – where the chalk crumbles away and falls down to the beach below – can happen at any time and visitors should stay well away from cliff edges and bases.
The cliff safety campaign is being promoted on social media platforms using the hashtags #BeCliffAware and #BeTideAware
Without warning, large chunks of cliff can fall hundreds of feet to the ground below. If you’re on the edge or at the base, you’ll be in danger.
Visitors are being warned not to gather at the base of cliffs for shade or if the rest of the beach is busy. Chalk can and does fall from above without warning, and you will be in danger of getting crushed or trapped. There have been at least 50 cliff falls in the last year – it happens more often than people think.
If you’re walking on the clifftop, you can’t see cracks and overhangs beneath you. Chalk is very unstable and can crumble without warning. It will take anyone standing on the edge down with it.
In addition, in the last year there have been a number of incidents of people getting cut off by the tide at the base of cliffs. This put them at risk of drowning, cold-water shock and chalk falling from cliffs above. They all had to be rescued by the coastguard.
Some beaches are only accessible during low tide and once the tide comes in, you could end up stuck. If you’re walking on the beaches at Seven Sisters or Birling Gap, be aware of the tide times and stay as far away from the base as you can.
Always check tide times before walking along beaches and stay away from the base of cliffs. For information on tide times visit tidetimes.org.uk
Warnings have also been issued about people taking selfies at the cliff edge. No photo is worth risking your life for. Stay away from the edge of cliffs – they can and do crumble and fall without warning. You could fall or the cliff could.
Councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden council’s portfolio holder for Community and Public Health, said, “We welcome visitors to Wealden and the stunning coastline but we want their visit to be memorable and not end in tragedy.
“It is imperative people heed warnings to stay away from the cliff edge and the cliff base.
“If people are standing too close to the edge they will not be aware of any cracks underneath them and the cliffs can and do crumble away without warning. There have been several of these incidents in the last 12 months.
“People on the beaches below also need to be aware of cliff falls.
“It is also important that people are aware of the tide times if they are walking along the beaches. Some beaches are only accessible during low tide and walkers can and do find themselves cut off by the tide and need to be rescued by the emergency services.
“Come and enjoy Wealden but be aware of the dangers of the natural landscape.”
If you see someone in danger on or near cliffs, call 999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.
Supervise children and pets at all times on or around chalk cliffs, and keep well away from the edge and base.