RENEWED calls have been made over the dangers of landslips as walkers continue to become trapped in mud along the Dorset coastline.

Coastguard officers have asked the public not to ignore warning signs.

Areas of beach sited near landslips have turned into a mix of mud and sand, making it treacherous for walkers.

In the latest incident, a man in his 80s had a lucky escape after becoming stuck.

The pensioner, from Middlesex, walked past warning tape which had been put up after a landslip near Swanage and became trapped on Saturday, coastguards said. He was rescued by two off-duty coastguard officers who spotted him.

A Portland Coastguard spokes-man said: “This was an elderly man who decided to ignore the warnings that were there and proceeded to go where he shouldn’t have gone. The coastguard and local authorities put up tape along coastal areas to advise people it’s not a good idea to proceed any further.

“If members of the public want to, then we can’t stop them, but the tape is there for a purpose and we would like for people to heed the warning. The coastline is extremely fragile and it will remain so for quite some time.

“The warnings are there for the benefit of the public but if they choose to ignore them they are putting themselves at risk.”

The warning is backed by two friends who became trapped in mud, then helped another couple who got stuck.

There were no warnings in place at the time the two walkers fell foul of mud near Lulworth Cove.

Following the incident the area was taped off by the Lulworth Estate and warning signs were put in place.

Angela Hancock and Laurent Smeets, two surgeons from West Sussex aged in their early 30s, went walking at the east side of Lulworth Cove to take pictures.

They found themselves battling a bog of thick mud and sand twice in one day after Mr Smeets got stuck and then later as they helped to save another pair.

Miss Hancock said Mr Smeets was strong and well used to walking and climbing so was shocked to be caught out.

She said: “The fact he couldn’t get out was the really frightening thing. He started to get cold.”

She said it took about half an hour to pull him out using a belt as a rope.

The pair went back to their B&B to change before going out again.

Miss Hancock said: “We made it up on the cliff to the east of the cove on our way to Mupe Bay, only to look down just in time to watch a woman on the beach walk straight into the bog too, followed by the man who was with her.

“They became completely stuck. Laurent went down to them and this time it was his turn to be the rescuer.”

‘Use your common sense’ advice

Deputy Leader of Purbeck District Council Barry Quinn urged people to be careful, take notice of any signs and cordoned off areas, and where there was evidence of a landslip but no signage, to ‘respect the surrounding environment and use your common sense’.

He said: “Mud which has fallen as a result of recent landslips on the beaches around Purbeck contains a lot of clay and its consistency is like quicksand.

“This really is serious business.

“We have had several instances where people have become stuck and had to be rescued. We do not want to have a tragedy occur.”


THE warnings come after a spate of landslips along the coastline in recent weeks.

A walker was rescued earlier this month at Swanage after becoming trapped in a waterlogged mix of mud and sand.

Heavy rain in December led to parts of the cliff becoming unstable with a number of landslips.

Further wet weather in January made the situation worse, with significant landfalls in the area. The ground is waterlogged, making the cliff unstable and at risk of falls of rock and clay.

Landslips occurred at Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis in January and again in February.

At the end of last year, a series of landslides at Ware Cliff and Monmouth Beach left a chalet dislodged, two caravans hit by rubble and a section of the coast path closed.

Meanwhile cliff falls in Weymouth forced the closure last week of the access route to the beach at Castle Cove and the footpath above the Western Ledges around Bincleaves. There have been further reports of movement around Furzy Cliffs at Bowleaze, the west of Portland, West Bay and Charmouth.