Friday, August 8, 2014
‘It was total lunacy,’ says stunned onlooker
A BEACHGOER is pictured risking his life by clambering over the rubble of a fresh cliff fall on Sidmouth’s dangerous eastern beach – then plunging into the sea.
These shocking images, captured from the safety of the seafront, even show the man clutching a watering can that had come down with part of a garden above.
The crumbling stretch of coast is so perilous that rescuers were scrambled immediately.
Manstone Lane resident David Woolley was watching some FolkWeek morris dancing at Port Royal with a friend on Sunday when he spotted the walker - and reached for his camera.
“We were waiting for the cliff to fall on his head,” said Mr Woolley.
“He climbed up to the top of the mound, decided it was too dangerous and went around the edge. The tide was 10 feet from the cliffs – there was nowhere for him to go. It was total lunacy.”
Sidmouth Coastguard was called just after noon to reports of three people walking from Salcombe Regis to Sidmouth.
Rescuer Kevin Gosling said: “One person had got to Sidmouth, the other two had turned back.
“That beach is out of bounds – it is a danger to everyone walking along there. The warning notices are just not heeded.”
Mr Gosling said the three people were visiting the town and that a lack of signage at Salcombe Regis was an issue the coastguard was keen to rectify.
“We gave safety advice and sent them on their way,” he added.
A Cliff Road resident, who lost a chunk of her garden last Wednesday, revealed she had been standing just hours earlier on the land that tumbled hundreds of feet to the beach below.
The huge landslide claimed two trees - and her watering can.
“I had been out there in the morning. It was quite a shock,” said the pensioner.She would welcome the return of the watering can.
Sidmouth Lifeboat senior coxswain Phil Shepperd said: “I never stop being shocked at how thoughtless some people can be, on a beach which is so clearly dangerous.”
A district council spokesman said its warning notices complement the National Trust’s own warning signs at Salcombe Regis, adding: “We will visit to review the situation.”