Warning as ‘significant’ Swanage landslip is still active

Beach users in Swanage have been warned to avoid Sheps Hollow after heavy rains caused a cliff fall which is said to be active and could get worse at any time.

Slippage below the South West Coast Path to the north of Swanage Bay, began on Tuesday 9th May 2023 and worsened with overnight rain.


The landslip at Sheps Hollow was continuing to move through the day

Warning signs to ensure public safety

Swanage Coastguard put up warning signs on Wednesday 10th May 2023 and have asked people to stay away from the stretch of beach known as Sheps Hollow to ensure their safety.

Extensive cliff erosion in this area over the last few years has already raised concern about access to the beach and paths along the cliff tops between Swanage and Old Harry.

High tide reaches the landslip and could cut off people using the beach

At times you could be cut off by the tide

Swanage Coastguard station officer Ian Brown said that a team had attended the site after reports of the latest landslide and had helped to put up safety signs in the area.

Ian said:

“We appear to have an active landslip which would seem to be weather related, as we have had heavy rain in the last 24 hours which has caused some significant movement at the north end of the bay.

“Quite a slump of material has fallen onto the beach and still seems to be moving, and around Sheps Hollow we are seeing quite an active slip at the moment – it was still tumbling down while the team was there.

“The team attended along with Dorset Council and have put some warning signs up and I would ask members of the public to avoid the area for the time being.

“We would ask them to consider their own safety and that of others, because at certain times you could be cut off by the tide. We strongly recommend that people do not climb over any rubble on the beach.”

Water continues to pour through the landslip material causing further movement

A major slump onto the beach has created a new hazard at Sheps Hollow

“Dorset is like a big sponge”

Ian added:

“The clay mixes in with the sand and makes a very soft mixture and in the past we have seen people stuck in that while the sea washes in and out.

“It will be monitored, but our best advice is to please steer clear of it for a while, especially as we have more rain coming in over the next few days.

“Dorset is like a big sponge and the water has to come out somewhere. We are seeing the legacy of that water working its way through Dorset and this time it’s popping out on our cliffs and speeds up the landslip issue.”

A sign at the top of Ballard Way warns walkers against getting too close to the edge

Further slips are quite likely towards the north of Swanage Bay

“Do not take unnecessary risks”

Dorset Council has reinforced the warning that the cliff fall at Sheps Hollow near Swanage is still moving and said that further rock falls could happen at any time.

A spokesperson for the council’s social media team said on Twitter:

“There’s been a significant cliff fall at Sheps Hollow near Swanage which is still moving.

“Be careful, do not take unnecessary risks, stay away from the edge of the cliff top and from the base. Do not climb or walk over landslide or rockfall debris, especially after wet weather.”

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