Update: 31/03/2022 - the Millennium walkway has now reopened.
Following a small cliff fall on the undercliff walkway in Sidmouth the walkway will remain closed until East Devon District Council (EDDC) can be confident that there is no further risk to the public.
The small cliff fall took place on Sunday morning. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) were made aware of this by the police, and attended site confirming that there were no injuries and sealed off the walkway due to the risk of potential further falls.
EDDC’s Engineering Geologist, who supervises the annual rope access inspections and is familiar with this section of cliff, attended site yesterday (Monday 28 March) to assess the residual risk and has identified an area immediately adjacent to the recent cliff fall as being at risk of falling.
Initial assessments have concluded that the fall is the result of a failure from an internal joint within the cliff that wasn’t exposed and therefore visible, and so this fall couldn’t have been predicted or prevented through scaling during the annual inspections which last took place on Tuesday 8 March 2022. It is likely that the recent wet winter combined with the last week of unseasonably hot, dry conditions have weakened this joint through a combination of shrinkage and expansion of the rock material, causing the fall.
Given the continued risk to the public, the council has taken the decision to keep the Undercliff walkway closed until a rope access contractor can be arranged to attend site, undertake a tactile inspection of the area surrounding the recent fall and remove any material that continues to present a risk. The council’s Engineering Team is in the process of making these arrangements and will provide updates as this develops.
Residents are advised to respect the footway closure due to the ongoing risk of further falls, and to be aware of the tides if deciding to use the beach to access Jacob’s Ladder while the footway is closed. Access between Jacob’s Ladder and Sidmouth town continues to be possible at all times via Peak Hill Road.
Councillor Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council's portfolio holder for Coast, Country and Environment said:
The cliffs above the walkway are inspected every single year by specialists. Securing bolts, many metres long, wire restraining mesh, and other safety measures are used to ensure people walking on the walkway will be safe. It's very unfortunate that we have had to close this footway, but safety is paramount."