WORLD War II landmines may still be buried under the zig zag path at Highcliffe Castle, officials have been told.

A report prepared for Christchurch councillors reveals Home Guard volunteers occupied the castle during hostilities, and the original pathway may have been pipe-mined because it was 'a strategic location.'

The Home Guard, immortalised on screen by the BBC sitcom Dad's Army, was comprised of local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service.

While the actual Home Guard operated for four years, the sitcom - featuring Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, and Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal 'They don't like it up em' Jones - ran from 1968 to 1977.

The report to councillors sets out the authority's position on the pathway's future - and the Second World War mine issue is just one consideration.

It says there are anecdotal records that grenades have been buried on the Highcliffe cliff.

A preliminary UXO (unexploded ordnance) risk assessment reports that an explosive ordnance task was undertaken in the vicinity as a result of the buried grenades, although they were not recovered.

The advice from consultants AECOM is that a detailed UXO risk assessment should be undertaken if the path was to be repaired.

It also says in the war, the area was subject to a moderate-low density bombing campaign by the Luftwaffe.

Christchurch Borough Council bosses say the path, which has been closed for safety reasons, is too costly to repair and that other options for access to the beach will be explored.

However, campaigners say the reported cost of the repair - the council says £1.25million - is uncertain as a tendering process has not happened. AECOM say the cost of fixing could be between £825,000 - £875,000.

A 3,000 signature petition has been handed in from residents eager for the zig zag to be repaired and some councillors could be in agreement.

Seven of them, including Trevor Watts, Vicki Hallam, Claire Bath and planning chairman, Lesley Dedman, have signed a motion calling for the controversial issue to go back to the next full council.

The path was shut earlier in the year because it is giving way.

A report on the other options for accessibility will come before the council in the autumn.

The petition was set-up by the Rothesay Drive Residents Association and Friends of Highcliffe Beaches and Cliffs (FOHBAC).

The groups are calling for a full investigation into the alternative routes for an 'on gradient pathway' to the beach from the Castle grounds.

The zig zag is the only step free access to the beach. No other way meets disability requirements.