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Coast path re-opened on Portland
10:45am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
The South West Coast Path above West Weare on Portland, which has been closed since January, has been partly re-opened.
Dorset County Council has repaired a 20-metre section, fixing holes that had opened up in the path surface This footpath follows an old quarrymen’s tramway high up on the cliff top. This section of Portland has natural fissures or gullies which the quarrymen used to fill with quarry waste so their horse-drawn trams could cross. Movement in the cliffs can cause the material in the gullies to collapse leaving deep holes and cracks in the path surface.
Richard Edmonds, Dorset County Council’s earth science manager said: “The cliffs along this section of Portland are affected by what are known as ‘topple landslides’. When the beds below move the Portland limestone blocks, defined by the gullies behind them, topple seaward.
Topple failures are slow and progressive events and can take decades to reach the point where the topple breaks off from the side of the cliffs. There are topple landslides in various stages of development above the West Weare.”
Lyn Cooch from the county council’s coastal ranger team said: “History tells us that cliff movement, damage to the path and subsequent repair is not a new phenomenon here. We know that it has happened previously and eventually the cliffs stabilise until the next episode of movement that may be years, or decades, into the future.”
Two small sections of the Coast Path remain closed. One section is affected by a topple landslide and surveys show significant movement and subsidence in the path is still taking place. The second section that remains closed includes a footbridge on the cliff top at Blacknor. Recent movement in the cliffs below the bridge means there is a risk that the entire cliff could fail with little or no warning.
Dorset County Council who manages the Coast Path asks the public to respect the closures and to not access the closed sections.
Hilary Cox, the county council’s Cabinet member for environment, said: “The closures are required for a very good reason and we would ask people for their own and other’s safety to take notice of the barriers and signs and to follow the very short, marked diversions that have been put in place. The diversions through old workings make it rather interesting and enhance the walk."
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