A LANDSLIDE warning has been issued as continued heavy downpours sparked fears of unstable cliff faces along the Dorset coast.
Walkers are being urged to take extra care in “dangerous conditions” with flooding set to worsen across parts of the region over the coming days.
The Met Office, which issued the warning following advice from the British Geological Survey, said coastal areas in the south-west of England, including Dorset, are in particular danger of collapsing cliff edges and rockfall.
And coastguards said they had received reports of movement along parts of the coast not usually associated with landslips.
A spokesman for the Met Office said: “We have had such heavy and persistent rain fall over the last few days and weeks and that there is a danger of landslides and rockfall along the coast, even on coastal paths. We are advising walkers to take particular care in these dangerous conditions, especially those not familiar with the area.
“Do not get too close to the cliff edge or walk under the cliff face along the beach and remember that coastal paths could be impacted too.”
Many coastal paths have been closed over the last few weeks along the south-west and train services have been disrupted by small coastal landslides.
Deputy watch manager for Portland Coastguard Jennet Chisholm said: “The rescue helicopter from Portland flew along the coast yesterday from Weymouth to Kimmeridge and the crew noticed bits breaking up at different points, including at locations we wouldn’t normally associate with rockfalls. We had reports of slips at Lulworth, Bat’s Head and Redcliff.”
The danger of landslips was highlighted by the tragic death of holidaymaker Charlotte Blackman strolling along Freshwater Beach, near Burton Bradstock, with her family when 400 tonnes of rock crashed down on top of her.
An inquest into her death at Dorchester last week was told that the rockfall was a “sudden act of nature” which no-one could have predicted. Charlotte, 22, of Heanor in Derbyshire, died on July 24 despite a major rescue operation which lasted into the night.
Meanwhile, residents in Sutton Poyntz were faced with rivers of water running through the village on Christmas morning.
People deployed sandbags and dug channels to divert water away from threatened homes following a torrential downpour on already-sodden ground. Following more heavy rain yesterday, today was also expected to bring more rain.
South and west Dorset faced a wet start, with heavy rain sweeping eastwards on strong winds. This rain was forecast to ease and clear to brighter conditions and a few showers during the afternoon.
Tomorrow promises to offer some respite with little rain forecast but more wet weather is expected to sweep in on Saturday.