SIGHTSEERS are being warned to keep away after a massive landslide wiped out one of Dorset’s most well-trodden routes.

The alert came after some 80 to 100 metres of cliff collapsed 400 yards east of Durdle Door at St Oswald's Bay.

People who visit tourist hotspots Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are being diverted away from the cliff edge after the coastal path was destroyed by the cliff fall.

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They are being urged to obey warning signs after the giant landslide overnight on Monday into Tuesday.

Nic Lonsdale, duty watch manager at Portland Coastguard, said: "We are urging people to observe the warning signs and stay away from the edge.

“Part of the path has completely gone and we need people to read the warning signs.”

Dorset County Council has closed the South West Coast Path due to the risk of further landslips.

The coastal path, which was used daily by hundreds of tourists, links two of the county’s best known sights – Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.

Pictures showing the full extent of the rock fall were taken from the Portland Coastguard Rescue Helicopter.

It was reported to the coastguard by the Lulworth Ranges safety boat team.

No-one was injured in the cliff fall.

Mike Branagan, of Portland Coastguard, said it was fortunate the landslip happened overnight or it could have been ‘disastrous’.

He added: “We could see that a member of the public got quite close because of curiosity.

“We want people to take care and please stay away from the cliff edge.

“It’s a popular beach that is very close to the Durdle Door Caravan Park and is well used.

“It was lucky that it happened over night or it could have been disastrous.

“We were made aware of it first thing this morning.”

A spokesman for Purbeck District Council said Dorset County Council has closed the South West Coast Path from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove due to the landslide and the risk of further landslips.

He added: “Warning signs are in place and an alternative route has been signposted which follows existing rights of way taking people away from the cliff edge.

“When enjoying our fantastic landscape, please take extreme care, especially when walking along or under any cliff edge. 

“Use your common sense, be vigilant and take heed of any warning signs.”

Earlier this month there were cliff falls west of Lulworth Cove and the the coastal path was affected.

Fresh cliff-falls and cracks occured along the section of coast from Bat’s Head to White Nothe.

Cliffs have also been wearing away at Brandy Bay, east of Lulworth Cove.

Record levels of rainfall have caused the highest rate of cliff falls ever seen in one year along the 630-mile stretch of the South West Coast Path.

There are usually two or three a year but between November last year and mid-January this year there have been 21. Some 17 diversions are now in place along the path.

A spate of landslips also caused walkers to get stuck in the mud in Swanage earlier this year.

Last July Charlotte Blackman was killed in massive landslip at Burton Bradstock.

The cliffs at Durdle Door and Lulworth have been crumbling since the start of year. In January, the steps to the famous landmark collapsed and earlier this month coastguards warned the path was beginning to fall away.