THERE was a heavy police presence over the weekend as a group of naturists stripped off and embarked on a cliff-top walk for charity.

The nudists made a plea to be unmolested by the authorities before their trek along the scenic route on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.

But about 10 uniformed officers met the walkers in Swanage on Saturday morning - and a helicopter hovered above to track their progress.

Being naked is not an offence in itself, but causing alarm by being unclothed can breach section five of the public order act 1986.

The male group of about 20 walkers had rucksacks and wore only hiking boots, with some holding sticks. The nudists wanted an uninhibited passage but were read a statement by police prior to embarking on their walk.

It warned them that they faced arrest if they failed to clothe themselves when told do to so by officers who would be patrolling the path.

A spokesman from the coastguard said: "We heard there were naturists doing a walk.

"And we were glad there were no accidents because we wouldn't have known where to put the strops if they'd fallen.

"Having divested themselves of their clothing the nudists began the 20-mile trek to raise cash for the Marine Conservation Society.

Organiser Chris Lamb, 62, said: "There is no law in this country that says you can't be naked. You must just not expose your genitals with the intention of offending people.

"If you don't intend to alarm people then there is no problem. If someone is alarmed then you put your clothes on, but I would normally just carry on.

"If you suddenly put your clothes on when people are approaching it looks like you're doing something wrong, and you're not.

"I would of course put my clothes on if a person is obviously upset by it."

One onlooker said: "It was quite a bizarre sight, they all seemed old men and clearly were enjoying themselves.

"I did see a couple clamber over a stile and it is not a sight I ever want to see again."

The group finished at Lulworth Cove later in the afternoon. Police today refused to confirm if any of the walkers were arrested.