Norfolk’s New Year walkers warned of peril of collapsing cliffs

PUBLISHED: 12:23 31 December 2012

Walkers are being warned of the danger of collapsing cliffs.

Walkers are being warned of the danger of collapsing cliffs.

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A New Year stroll along the coast is an annual tradition, as people try to blow away the cobwebs following festive excess.

But walkers are being warned to take extra care on clifftop paths this year - because the relentless rain has made them susceptible to collapse.

The cliffs around Norfolk, which are notoriously unstable because they are made up of silt, sand, clay and gravel, are being made worse by the record rainfall of 2012.

On Christmas Day, 19 coastguards battled for 90 minutes in muddy conditions to rescue two dogs that slipped down cliffs at Trimingham.

Now Jim Lilley, from Cromer Coastguard, has urged people to take particular care when walking close to the county’s cliffs.

He said: “The cliffs are extremely wet. The water is flowing over the top of the cliffs and out, causing mud flows that are extremely fast and deep.

“Anyone venturing near to the cliffs could become stuck very easily.”

He added: “The rain soaks through the ground and finds its way out through the cliff face. If you stand and look at the cliffs for long enough, you can see that they are moving all the time, almost imperceptibly.

“People have to be very careful at the edge and the base of the cliffs.”

Mr Lilley said that even some of the designated coastal paths were not safe, and advised people to remain “no closer than 12-15ft away” from the edge when walking.

He also said it was advisable to keep dogs on leads - to avoid a similar situation occurring to the one at Trimingham on Christmas Day.

As reported, coastguard teams from Happisburgh, Mundesley, Cromer and Sheringham spent Christmas morning rescuing a cocker spaniel called Milo and a Lhasa Apso called Teddy.

The pair had slipped down the cliff while chasing each other while their owners were having a chat.

After a great deal of effort in cloying mud, the two dogs were rescued. They were in good physical health, but a little shaken.

The warning follows one made last week by the British Geological Survey (BSG), which said there was a high risk of landslides and rock falls - particularly in the south-west of England.

The BGS put out an amber situation warning, the second highest, because of the saturated ground and forecasts of more heavy rainfall.

It said there were “multiple reports of slope instability resulting in disruption to infrastructure and people”.

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