Less than 24 hours after a massive rockfall at West Bay, members of the public have been seen ignoring stark warnings to stay away.

A huge chunk of a cliff collapsed at East Beach on Tuesday, causing a 1,000-tonne rockfall.

The fall was captured, by chance, on a live feed which overlooks the harbour.

In a split second, a huge section of the cliff came crashing down on to the beach below.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

BLINK OF AN EYE: Huge chunk of cliff collapses at West Bay Picture: KAREN MILES

Shockingly, not even a day after the fall, pictures taken by the Jurassic Coast Trust show members of the public walking their dogs alongside the debris.

Geologist Sam Scriven said: "There has been a number of falls in the past two to three years down there and the cliffs remain totally unpredictable.

"We don’t know when the next fall will be and we could never predict it. There is definitely a relationship between the cliffs and extreme weather, and the past few days have seen a lot of rain. We’ve also seen cliffs collapse in dry periods, so robust weather does have an effect. In this case, it was probably the storm which did it.”

Mr Scriven says the location of West Bay’s cliffs means they face the ‘full force’ of any storm and ‘bear the brunt’ of bad weather.

People should respect the landscape, he says, and use common sense at the beach.

“People think of the British seaside as a lovely, safe, family place but the beach is part of the wilderness and nature is doing its thing there," he said. "People need to be respectful of that. We can’t close off the beach but people need to be aware of the risks. They are beautiful cliffs and people like to marvel at them but respect them as you would the sea and act responsibly.”

Emergency services were called to East Beach early on Tuesday evening to find an enormous pile of rock and debris.

West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team and Dorset Police were first at the scene, at which time the fall was still ‘active,’ and quickly searched the area - next to the spot of a major rockfall in 2018.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

COLLAPSE: A thousand tonnes of rock fell from cliff Picture: West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team

Nobody was found, but officers could not be certain people were not trapped under the cliff or needed rescuing.

To be sure, the fire and ambulance services were requested and firefighters from stations in Bridport, Charmouth and Dorchester attended, along with technical rescue teams from Weymouth.

Searches proved inconclusive, and so thermal imaging was used to try and detect any missing people and the police helicopter and search dog were called for.

The emergency services stood down at about 8pm.

A spokesman for West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team said it was 'much better to be safe than sorry' given people been hurt or killed by such falls in recent years.

Coastguards officers closed a section of the coast path, between West Bay and Freshwater, while engineers checked the site.

The council reopened the path yesterday afternoon, though a sizeable section has been cordoned off and warning signs have been put in place.

Dorset Council said the collapse, which came without warning, has left dangerous overhangs from the top of cliff and the is public advised to stay away.

An assessment carried out on Wednesday morning by Mr Scriven, the Jurassic Coast Trust’s geological expert, states the section of cliff is currently in a condition where it is more susceptible to falls, especially following heavy rain and strong wind.

The public is strongly advised not to walk anywhere near the rockfall or the cliffs. The next rockfall could happen at any time and the stormy winter weather has further increased the likelihood.

Mr Scriven added: “I don’t think there can be any doubt that this section of cliff in general is currently in a condition where it is more susceptible to falls. My view is that we are experiencing an active period during a long cyclic pattern of erosion and there are many other parts of the cliff face that appear to be similarly vulnerable.”


  • Stay away from the edge of cliffs - admire the view from a safe distance. There are fantastic views from the pier in West Bay
  • Never lie or sit under the cliffs - there is very little chance of survival if caught under a rockfall
  • Always take note of warning signs – they are there because the dangers are real
  • Check tide times before you set off- avoid being cut off by incoming tides
  • Be aware of mud flows
  • Keep dogs on leads near the cliff edge

Ken Buchan, Dorset County Council’s Coast and Countryside service manager said: “The Jurassic Coast is a wonderful place to visit, but we urge people to use common sense and caution – stay away from the edge and base of cliffs and always pay attention to warning signs and safety messages.”

For more information, visit jurassiccoast.org/enjoysafely

Police are making enquiries to establish if anyone was in the area at the time of the fall and anyone with information or concerns can contact them on 101, quoting number 12:271.