Cliff falls happen at random – visitors urged to enjoy coast safely this spring and summer
People visiting East Sussex’s spectacular coastline – which includes the Seven Sisters and Birling Gap in the National Park – are being urged to stay safe this spring and summer.
Visitors are being reminded of the serious risks the unstable cliffs pose to those getting too close to the edge or walking at the base of the cliffs, and the dangers to beach walkers who risk getting cut off by the tide.
High numbers of people have been visiting the coast for clifftop and beachside walks during the pandemic. As lockdown restrictions ease over the coming months and the weather improves, visitor numbers are expected to increase.
East Sussex County Council has teamed up with other organisations along the East Sussex coast to remind people of the dangers.
The joint campaign is being promoted by The National Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Seaford Town Council, Wealden District Council, Eastbourne Borough Council, Lewes District Council and Rother District Council.
Visitors are reminded that the chalk cliffs are unstable, with many unseen overhangs and cracks, and despite monitoring the vast majority of chalk falls happen with no warning. Over the last year there have been nearly 50 cliff falls in East Sussex.
People visiting for beach walks are also urged to be aware of the tide times as it is possible get cut off by the incoming tide or be forced to walk too close to the base of the cliffs. Visitors taking a coastal walk should wear sturdy footwear and clothing appropriate for the weather, and let people know where they are going and when they expect to return.
In the past 12 months there have been 13 incidents of people being stranded on the beach after being cut off by the tide. Visitors can check the tide times at www.tidetimes.org.uk.
Karl Taylor, head of operations at East Sussex County Council, said: “We want people to come to East Sussex and enjoy its beautiful coastline, but to do so safely and be aware of the dangers that the chalk cliffs and the sea can present.
“Visitors should not underestimate the risks they are taking when they stand on top of the cliffs or at the cliff base, and should remember that it is very easy to be caught out by the incoming tide when walking on the beach.
“Our message to anyone visiting the area is enjoy the amazing views safely by keeping well away from the edge and base of the cliffs, and to be aware of the tide.”
If visitors see anyone in danger or witness someone who has fallen, they are urged to call 999 immediately and ask for the Coastguard and not attempt to rescue them.