Recent storm damage update
The wet and stormy weather during January and February has taken its toll on the South West Coast Path. Whilst the vast majority of the 630 miles of Coast Path is unaffected (other than being more muddy in places than normal) some of the cliff falls have meant that sections of the Path have had to be diverted inland.
The most significant damage has been around the Lizard in West Cornwall, and around Start Bay in South Devon.
On the Lizard there are short diversions at Gunwalloe and the Devil’s Frying Pan, near Cadgwith. There is a longer diversion between Porthleven and Loe Bar and there remain diversions near Coverack and Rosenithon resulting from the floods of last July. Work is ongoing to repair all of these, and it is hoped the Coast Path on these sections will be reinstated back close to the coast before the summer.
As you may have seen on the news, strong easterly storms has washed away a big section of the A379 along Slapton Line in South Devon. The Coast Path runs slightly inland of the road along the shingle ridge and so is still passable. There are plans to rebuild the road, and whilst this is underway there may be minor diversions for walkers, but through access should be maintained at all times. Just south of here, the storms have resulted in the Coast Path having to be moved very slightly inland at Torcross and Hallsands.
When a cliff fall affecting the path is reported, the County Council or National Trust rangers will immediately inspect it, and if it looks dangerous they will close off the affected section. They will then start to work on setting up a diversion, which initially will be on the nearest paths and roads around the closure. If this diversion isn’t as good as possible, once the cliff has stabilised, they will then liaise with neighbouring landowners to try and negotiate a new route close (but leaving a safe distance) to the ‘new’ cliff edge. Sometimes this is a simple, quick process, but can get complicated and protracted if there are limitations in terms of terrain (and thus amount of construction required), wildlife habitats (e.g. you can’t cut a new path through scrub during the nesting season) or impacts on someone’s garden.
Funding these repairs and construction of new paths places even more strain on an already stretched Coast Path budget, so donations towards this work are always most welcome.
Whilst we are now hopefully over the worst of the winter weather, please take care when out on the Coast Path. Until we get a longer spell of dry weather, ideally with a light breeze, sections of the Path will continue to be much muddier and more slippery than normal, so make sure you have appropriate footwear and heed our Safety Advice.
If you are out and spot a recent cliff fall or other hazard that presents an imminent risk to walkers, please either contact the Coastguard on 999, or the relevant County Council (Cornwall: 0300 1234 202, Devon: 0345 155 1004, Dorset: 01305 224463).
Published on: March 9, 2018