Monday, 31 December 2012

Oh no...not another Coastguard Warning!

One last public safety message for the year ;-)   ...but more light hearted!

...if you're out in Swanage tonight celebrating New Year's Eve please watch out for 'Nick-y'.

Phwooaar, what a stunner.

Enjoy your night, and have a great New Year!

Coastguard Nick letting his hair down!


The Station Officer is questioned by BBC South Today regarding members of the public putting themselves in danger by going though the closure notices.

Meanwhile, Nick points the dangers out in the Echo.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Swanage Landslip Why we want people to keep clear.

The risk of getting stuck in the this clay is high, the sand in front is very soft and more like a quick sand in places.

Sadly people are losing parts of their gardens and patios - the risk of items coming down on the beach is high. 

Swanage Landslip - Studland pictures

This mornings patrol headed to Studland to have a look at the slides the other side of Ballard.

The South Coast footpath is closed at South Beach, with the National Trust taping off the path.  Yet again we found safety tape ripped down which is becoming quite a problem.

WE ASK AGAIN PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM THESE FALLS, keep away from the edge of cliffs and keep dogs on leads.

Breaking hazard tape is an offence and puts you, others and the emergency services at risk.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Further warnings

With the wet weather today Portland Coastguard sent teams out to check the cliffs. Landslips were reported at Studland, Swanage, Lulworth, Portland, Osmington and Lyme Regis.

Portland Coastguard issued this press release.

MCA press office issued this blog

Friday's Photos

A handful of photos from Friday 28th.  We'll be out again this morning after the overnight rain and will post Saturday's update later.

Remember the chap digging the mud away from his beach hut? Well this is where it ended up - on the beach below. In several places mud like this has mixed with sand and liquefied to form a quicksand.  Take Care!

We are monitoring this area near the Pines Hotel.  There was evidence of futher slippage on Friday

Finally, a couple of shots looking up to the Ballard Estate.  This decking was level when we checked it on Wednesday.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Spot the Difference

 A fun competition to fill that awkward bit between Christmas and New Year......

In Puzzle 1 above we see a shot of our regular Slipwatch area immediately prior to last weeks major fall.  Below it is the same view taken on 28 December 2012.

Puzzle 2: slightly more tricky.  The upper photo was taken at 10am on Boxing Day, 26 December 2012.  The lower photo was taken 48 hours later at 10am on 28 December 2012, although we believe this fall actually occured late on Boxing Day afternoon.

Answers:  In both cases there has been a significant land slip which would have severely injured or killed anyone caught in its way.  The cliff is still moving.  Just because this site and the BBC showed some impressive video footage last weekend, it doesnt mean the cliff fall is over and the area is now safe.  Quite the opposite.

More photos a bit later.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Swanage Landslip calls

Portland MRCC and I took calls from concerned members of the public who reported people still walking within the beach closure.

The closure put on by several agencies was to minimise the risk to users of the beach yet it continues to be ignored.

The risk of further slippage and rock falls remains high especially with further rain tomorrow.

To the individual or individuals that continues to rip down the barrier tape, you could be committing an offence as you are hindering the Emergency services in their duties.

The signs and tape are their for a reason......the beach is closed, a rare and unusual situation however one put in place for safety reasons.

Finally a short message to the two individuals who sparked the most calls today.

Standing on top of your beach hut digging at the Landslip to remove clay from your doors is not (in our opinion and others) the safest or best idea at present.

1) The clay is still moving and what you remove will probably be back shortly.
2) You are putting the emergency services at risk
3) You are putting yourselves and other members of the public at risk
4) The clay you have thrown on the beach will now mix with the sand in the heavy rain and make a mixture similar to quick sand (as we have found further up)
5) A reminder that the slip directly above you moved with no warning, silently and with some force although you shouldn't actually be there note the concrete smashed up on the beach?

The several tons of rock and earth above the beach hut are sitting in a thin film of water which acts as a lubricant.  As the cliff above becomes more saturated and therefore heavier, it puts increased pressure on the earth below and it will only be a matter of time before a huge dump lands exactly where this individual is standing.  We have observed falls like this several times over the last few days and it all happens very quickly, silently and with no warning.

Photo:  Ben Sturch, copied from a Swanage community page on Facebook.  Our thanks to the photographer.

Swanage Landslip - High Risk area

This area especially the wall going up the cliff remains the area at most risk with the possibility of collapse. We understand this wall was built in 1932 and for 80 years has done its job.

Swanage Landslip - a changing view

4 pm on Boxing Day......beware of being cut off on high tides.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Swanage Landslip - day 6 final update of the day

This was the view this evening as  - the area has totally slipped in 6 hours since we visited this morning.

Compare this to Malcolm Turnbulls video which was taken from roughly the same spot a few days ago. The retaining wall collasped and the left hand concrete beach hut is covered.

Swanage Landslips - Google Map

A Google Map showing the recent landslips...

Nice one Ian!

Swanage Landslip - Update day 6

It was sad to find the barrier tape broken and people still ignoring the safety advice.
The main reason the 1st section is closed is due to large cracks appearing in the cliff face.
Major failure of the concrete wall in the last 24 hours next to our usual "Slip watch" concrete huts
Zoomed in on the corner of the concrete slab, this failed in the 5 minutes we were monitoring the slip.
Further slippage up towards Sheps Hollow (North End of the Bay) Sheps Hollow has now been closed by Dorset County Council - walking along the beach there can be a risk of being cut off by the tide.
The main area of concern/ slippage which should be avoided

Landslide warning - experts issue warning

Morning, as the team are about to deploy to check the situation, the British Geological Survey (BGS) have issued their own warning of landslips and rock falls.

We shall report back shortly on the current situation.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Season of good will

We would like to thank the owners and staff of Ocean Bay who looked after us on Saturday with somewhere dry to sit and warm up with a drink (coffee before anyone asks!)

Merry Christmas

The Swanage Coastguard Team would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Swanage Slip - latest

Late this afternoon Portland Coastguard called me advising that NCI at Peveril Point were watching someone digging at the pile of mud and rocks surrounding presumably their beach hut at the North of the beach.

Whilst they considered tasking the Initial Response Team, they wanted to ensure that the barrier tape and signage was in situ which was confirmed as of this mornings patrol.

Whilst we can understand the concern of trying to protect someones property, to dig or worse still actually be under an active land slip does give up some concern.

We may sound like a stuck record but PLEASE, LET THIS SLIP SETTLE AND KEEP CLEAR OF THE CLIFFS

Purbeck District Council Chief Executive issued a further warning today.

We have taken advice today on the slip and the advice back is that the beach closure stays on until a 
formal structural survey is carried out. I'm afraid there is no timescale on this with a public holiday approaching.

This is a multi agency incident involving HM Coastguard, Dorset Police, Dorset County Council, Purbeck District Council, Swanage Town Council and many landowners.

The Coastguard will continue to patrol the area to monitor the situation throughout the holiday period.

Swanage Landslip update

Good morning day 4 of operation slippery slope.

A quick patrol along the beach this morning and there seems to be no significant slips overnight just a couple of very minor ones, but there is a possibility of this changing if we get the rain that is forecast.

One of the issues we now face is that any of the clay from the cliff that has been washed onto the beach is getting covered in sand when the tide comes in, as I found out this morning these patches of sand are very very soft and I now have dirty boots, luckily for me the other two with me managed not to laugh to much to help me out.

This picture was taken an hour before high water and as you can see there is not a lot of room and there is the possibility of people getting cut off by the high tide.

Please stay safe and enjoy your Christmas with family or friends and not with the Swanage Coastguard team trying to rescue you.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Swanage Landslip - Station Officer's update

The last 48 hours have been very demanding on the team (and their families), some were out for 13 hours yesterday.

Whilst the majority of people have been supportive, some of the team have been met with anger and aggression when giving people advice or asking why they ignored the safety signs.

As an emergency service we do carry certain legal powers, however generally we use the power of common sense in trying to prevent an accident.
The whole point of temporarily closing the beach is to actually reduce the risk of injury to the public and avoid calling us out.
Perhaps some feel this is over the top, some feel it restricts their freedom however we would ask those to consider the risk it creates to those who have to perform the rescue if something happens, especially those who are volunteers like us.

Regrettably we along with our partner agencies can not provide 24 hour cover on the beach, as we found out today when the team responded to someone missing in Poole Harbour. Whilst we were searching we were made aware of a large crowd that had ignored the safety tape so had to redeploy other team members to again provide safety advice back in Swanage.

We really do hope that this is a temporary situation, the recent heavy rain is speeding up a process that has been developing for some months. There are several hot spots along the cliff from Ocean Bay to Sheps Hollow and whilst we continue to find fresh rock falls on the path and beach the closures shall remain in force.

The decision to close the beach was a multi agency decision involving:
HM Coastguard, Dorset Police, Dorset County Council, Purbeck District Council Engineer along with the many landowners in this area.

Our priority is to ensure the safety of the community and visitors to the town and I very much regret if our actions have spoilt the enjoyment of our normally very special beach area.

May I take this opportunity to thank all the team for their efforts this weekend and wish all our readers a Merry but safe Christmas.

Ian Brown
Station Officer

Major Search in Poole Harbour

A major search around the entrance of Poole Harbour commenced just before 11am after a small tender capsized. Two persons have been rescued however one person remains missing.

Volunteer Coastguards from Poole and Swanage, both lifeboats from Poole and Swanage along with both rescue helicopter were involved in the search.

The MCA issued this press release.

Update - Swanage Landslip / Cliff

Some photos from this morning's visual assessment. We've included a quick commentary; no we are not geologists or geomorphologists but I hope it is an honest and informative summary.

Whilst the rain has stopped it is apparent that there is still slippage at Burlington Chine. The beach huts are all in place, although there is severe loading of debris over the older huts. A slip of the existing debris is likely to occur during the next heavy rain with further risk of new slippage from the gardens above, including concrete and glass panels.

Burlington Chine

Further northwards there is a significant slump, about 30m inland by 150m in length; the area is very unstable with the slump being liquid mud. Areas of beach have been over-washed with clay which has caused areas of quicksand at the bottom of the slips. 
Under the The Pines

At the Highcliffe there is more washing of debris through new channels in the cliff which has built up behind the railway sleeper wall; this is at load and must be considered a risk in itself. Above there is undercutting of the cliff and potential for a catastrophic failure at some point - maybe this week, maybe  months. Keen eyed readers will see one beach hut to the left moved forward by the debris.


At the 'slip watch site' there is more liquefaction of debris and a large area ready to fall at next rain fall; again there is significant risk of concrete and stone gabions falling from height.

'Slip Watch Area'
There are 5 lines of cordon tape up and signage, however we have had to speak to a dozen or so persons this morning who believe the warnings do not apply to them are solely there for other people / general inconvenience. One person commented it was not 'Police tape' and therefore of no consequence (incorrect), another more polite chap wanted to dig his beach hut out. And yes we will remove all the tape at the end of the closure.

Ultimately the cliff is likely to collapse with no warning and any persons in the wrong place will either be critically injured from falling rock or be buried in mud debris. We don't particularly want to close the walkway but have done for reasons of public safety. 

In the back of our minds is the sad loss of life of a young lady earlier this year due to a cliff collapse near Lyme Regis, and the sad loss of two persons in a mudslide at Beaminster tunnel. To put it in perspective our response time to any incident is likely to be around 8 minutes on scene, but we'd far sooner people stayed away from the marked danger areas.

Thanks for your continued co-operation

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cliff Slump

Another clip of a small part of the cliff slump, provided by Mr Malcolm Turnbull who was with the team today.

You can see how unstable the cliff is, the clay is almost liquid hence our concern of further large slips!

Swanage Landslip / Cliff Fall

Some photos from midday today; fair to say with this afternoon's rain the cliff has slumped further and is more dangerous.

Please, please heed the warning signs that are there for the benefit of public safety. We've spoken to dozens of local people who have broken through the Coastguard warning tape by Ocean Bay and at the top of Burlington Chine to see for themselves; each was apologetic when we've explained the very real danger.  

When the slip happened this morning there was no warning, rumble sound nothing. 

Burlington Slip

Burlington Slip

Under the Highcliffe

Under the Highcliffe

'Slipwatch' Area

Under the Grand Hotel

The Pines Hotel

Swanage Coastguard on Scene - Cliff Slump

Swanage Coastguard Team deployed at 04:00 this morning for a missing person and then returned to monitor the cliff at Burlington Chine. At around 08:20 we saw a large slump of the cliff face - which interestingly was silent.

The promenade between Ocean's Bay and Shep's Hollow has been closed to allow a proper assessment of the danger to be undertaken. 

Already this morning we have had to warn a number of walkers who broke the cordon with the excuse  that they were trying to take photos and video for BBC South's lunchtime bulletin. Please respect the closure which has been made for public safety reasons.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Cliff Incident - further update

This was part of the reason the path has been closed this evening. Large stones, rocks and lumps of concrete have landed both on the path and the beach.

Cliff Incident

Readers will know that we have been monitoring the cliffs to the north on Swanage, between Burlington Chine and Sheps Hollow.

Today on a routine inspection it was noticed that rocks had been falling onto the walk way and the risk to walkers had increased.

Working with partner agencies a decision was taken to tape the walkway off to prevent walkers being injuries until a detailed inspection can be taken in the daylight.

We do urge the public to respect the closure, it has been put in place to protect you.

The Coastguard, Dorset Police, Dorset County Council and the owners of the chine will be monitoring the situation over the weekend.

Cliff fall

Not the best photo but there has been quite a cliff fall on Ballard in the last 24 hours. (Try and get a better photo for later)

Best advice is to stay clear of the cliffs for the next few days during this bad weather.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Possible dry day tomorrow!

After nearly two days of rain, tomorrow appears to a dry day (for us here in Swanage) so we recommend those jobs you have put off outside are done quickly.

Sadly there is more rain on the way for Saturday and on already very wet ground this could lead to further floods.

Anyone travelling to Wareham will notice the causeways are heavily flooded and the A351 is flooded by the Springfield turning. Meanwhile the A352 is closed near Winfrith. With several incidents around Dorset today with person stuck in flood water we remind readers not to drive in flood water.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

More rain

Yet more rain due tomorrow with another weather warning issued.

Some safety warnings:

Stay out of flood water

Keep clear of cliffs

Monitor weather forecasts and flood warnings

Stay off sea defences or areas prone to rough seas

Water in my engine?

Another photo from Friday, thankfully the owner came and removed their car.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Remember the gardening makeover programme with Charlie Dimmock and her two popular companions?
The result of the recent rough weather is this new rockery feature by the tea gardens in the Lower High Street. Something Groundforce would be proud of!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Young persons spark late night incident

The initial response team (IRT) were tasked this evening by Portland MRCC just after 21.30.

The report was of a group of young persons seen in the water by the Mowlem Theatre and with the sea conditions still rough there was concern they would be injured.

On arrival we were met by another member of the team who confirmed all the group had got out the water having had several large waves dump on them.

Despite a search of the town to offer some words of advice the young persons were not located.

High Tide

The IRT were tasked this morning after members of the public were reported a little close to the waters edge in dangerous weather conditions.

Sea levels were a metre higher than predicted due to the weather conditions and this caused the water at high tide to breech areas including the lower High Street and the parade.

We know bad weather is an opportunity for a good photo but we ask again for people to keep their distance. The risks of being dragged in are huge in these weather conditions.

These conditions may continue for another 24 hours.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Weather Warning

There is a weather warning in place for heavy rain tomorrow especially in the morning. With a very high tide also this could combine to cause flooding, readers should be aware and monitor advice from the environment agency and met office.


This view is under the Pines Hotel (just to the right of our normal location of Slipwatch. Lets see how fast this is moving.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Saturday, 8 December 2012

20 Years of Service

We missed a special occasion on Thursday........

Steve Lacey completed 20 years of service to the Coastguard Service and becomes the 3rd holder of the long service medal in the team.

Steve, a local youth worker brings a lot of climbing and sailing experience to the team.

So congratulations Steve on this achievement.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Mince Pies and a team meeting

Tuesday night saw the team get together for the annual mince pie and review of the year meeting.

Despite the year being busy with the Olympics for some of the team, the weather had a huge impact in the number of incidents the team have dealt with, in fact it's down to a 10 year low.

Discussions were held on the way the team will work in 2013 along with a heavy training plan. Team Recruitment is a priority for the start of the year to ensure we are at full strength........if anyone is interested in joining please do get in touch.

Various items of new equipment are on the way but we will talk about these when they arrive.

With the business done, it was down to the mince pies, (or apple pies for someone)

Monday, 3 December 2012


With beaches closed down towards Lyme Regis last week, a walk out today to have a look at our cliffs here in Swanage found them to be literally crumbling in front of your eyes.

The area around Sheps Hollow is particularly bad with a high risk of being cut off by the tide as well as the risk of being hit by falling mud and rock.

Our advice would be to stay clear of the base of cliffs, keep clear of fresh falls of material and know what the tide is doing.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Team member of the year

And the winner of the Team Member of the Year....

Lee and Roger for their efforts during the year.

The award is made in memory of Mike Williamson, one of the team who sadly passed away in 2004. Its awarded to a team member or members who have made a big difference in the team.

Lee has been very proactive in his mapping of the patch and Roger has just about mended everything the rest of the team broke.