Sunday 28 January 2024

Crumbs Crumbling Chalk Cliffs

 

The tiny hamlet at Birling Gap has had many ups and downs in its short existence … eight cottages were built for the Coastguard in 1878 before passing into private ownership after WW2 …


Birling Gap hamlet pos 1930s
Birling Gap is iconically situated atop those crumbling chalk cliffs between Eastbourne and Brighton ...from where historically it has been possible to realise how much the chalk is a-crumbling into the English Channel below …



Using step ladder pos 1980s

I hadn't been out there for twelve years or so … and though it perhaps wasn't the most inspiring day for the driving friend … but suited the muffled overloaded new birthday girl, who had the winter blues and was wanting to recover her wits …





Demolishing cafe ... 2024

We pottered around – it was a grey day … but we checked out the National Trust shop, cafe, bookshop and 'museum' … last time I was there – the 'museum' was much more informative – showing chalked timelines along the walls and on the floor … that sadly had disappeared – showing how much erosion had been going on.



Coastal side of demolition in process (2024)
Sue is another African – English born, but brought up in Zimbabwe – so we're on the same wave-length – and had come with me to my brother's for Christmas … gave her a break – she was free to join us.



Looking west ... 2024
She remarked this is living history – as we peered from the scaffolding over the edge … we didn't go down the 'staircase' to the beach – though as you can see some have.



Showing the scaffolding stepway
(uncertain as to date)
We went off to a pub – only to find it closed for maintenance – fortunately nearby the Hiker's Rest was open … so to save energy driving around wondering where to go – not something I felt inspired to do: I was still not feeling up to much …

In recent years the buildings around
The Tiger Inn, inland a couple of miles, have
been done up and are now in use - as here: a cafe
for wilting elders! or as B&Bs etc


I know I had a spiced parsnip soup – which was warming and cheering, Sue had a baguette – the other half she ate for supper later on.




It was an ideal day out for a wilted elder! I do feel slightly better now – but still not out of the woods – I hope to be by mid February … another interesting dinner is in the offing – all grist to this girl's organising mill!


This shows the area with the scaffolding
steps, the cafe with its picnic seating,
a view from Beachy Head on the way 
down towards Birling Gap with its
few cottages still in use ... 

So this post tells the tale of Birling Gap and its eroding cliffs … via the odd images I've posted …




Thanks for visiting – while I've just been reminded about another post-WEP type post that's due on Thursday – the first of the month … so another coming up then …



Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

30 comments:

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Coastal erosion is a huge problem in some areas as you show so clearly here, Hilary. On Prince Edward Island, with every major storm (and they are becoming more frequent each year) whole chunks of the coastline disappear. Sorry to hear that you are still not feeling up to par. If I lived closer I would drop by with a bottle of good wine and cook dinner for you. All I can do, however, is send you mu very best wishes - David

Inger said...

I didn't know you have been ill, as I've been ill too and off blogging for a while. Better now, I decided to read some of my favorite blogs this morning. Coastal erosion is becoming a huge problem for so many who have enjoyed living in beautiful, but problematic areas. I'm glad you had a day out and hope you are feeling OK.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ David - thanks that thought of a bottle of vino with a dinner cooked by you would be quite wonderful ... and cheers me up no end. I'm just under the weather - in a fog, which is clearing thankfully, though the storms aren't staying away!

I know there are parts of the UK that are populated and houses are disappearing into the seas below; it's sad - yet land builds up elsewhere ... as at Dungeness further east along the southern coast. I remember the Prince Edward island story ...

@ Inger - I'm malingering I think - nothing serious ... well the docs haven't chased me - so I assume all is well. Just something that's out of sync. I know you've been ill and I've been meaning to email - but one more thing that hasn't happened. That's good to know you're feeling easier.

Cheers to you both ... I'm sure things are improving here - I'll be glad once mid February comes along ... and of course the days then get longer and brighter. Take care the two of you - Hilary

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Sounds like you are feeling a bit like me - more just out of sorts than anything definable! Having lived in Suffolk and making regular visits to Dunwich, I totally appreciate the mobility of these isles! Indeed, there has been quite a bit of shifting of the beach areas along the Clyde coast during these winter storms... YAM xx

Pradeep Nair said...

A fascinating post about Birling Gap! It's amazing how much the landscape has changed over the years. A pointer to the power of nature. Looks like you had a good day. Hope you are feeling better now.

Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry to read that you are still not firing on all cylinders and glad that it hasn't stopped you from all outings - and another eclectic and delightful post.
Here's to the return of light and health.

jabblog said...

I did not know that land was building up in Dungeness - that gives some hope. We generally only hear about erosion on the east coast and on the Jurassic coast.
Wishing you good health and strength.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam - yes ... I suspect we're on the same wave length as far as feeling off-colour is concerned - nice to have a friend up north - thanks! Yes - you're right re the Suffolk coastline, as too the Clyde coast ... the land is always moving and shifting to another area ... here's to our improved feelings ...

@ Pradeep - I'm glad you enjoyed the post - it is amazing how much the landscape has changed over the years/centuries/millennia. Nature sure has the power. I am feeling easier ... thankfully ...

@ EC - I'm not quite right - it'll sort itself out I hope (actually I expect it will!). I keep going out - not far ... but enough to stimulate my life ... and thanks for your thoughts re the return of light and health for me (cool and health for you!) ...

@ Janice - yes the land is constantly moving ... the pebbles from Chesil Beach, Dorset have 'wandered' up the coast towards Dover - I wrote about them on 18 May 2020 ... all erosion gets shifted along ... but thanks for your thoughts re my improving health ... I sincerely hope.

Cheers to one and all - great to see you - Hilary

hels said...

The crumbling chalk cliffs between Eastbourne and Brighton actually look spectacular, even though it is dangerous for people who live and work there, and not healthy for the sea. Hikers Rest looks perfect for us wilting elders, and fortunately is well inland.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's hard to tell from the most recent photo - are they tearing down that building or trying to reinforce it for a few more years? Looks like eventually it'll be a losing battle.

Liz A. said...

It is amazing to see how much of those cliffs have gone away over time. This reminds me of a NOVA I saw. They were moving a lighthouse as it had gotten too near the edge of the land. Over 150 years so much had been eroded away.

bazza said...

This has reminded me of the last time I went to Lulworth Cove on England's south coast, several years ago. I was disappointed to find that the beach was closed because of danger from the overhead crumbling cliffs. I'm not sure if they are chalk-based, like Birling Gap, but it's a place that I really like. I presume it's open these days!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Hels - it is a special area of our English landscape ... the sea enjoys having extra 'soil or earth' to churn around and build up areas elsewhere. We satisfied our January tummies at the Hiker's rest - no stress needed and we could natter happily.

@ Alex - yes - they're tearing down the front of it, while retaining the rear part for now. At the rate the crumbling takes place it won't be long before Birling Gap itself disappears - +/- 50 years or so ... and thus that battle will be lost ...

@ Liz - yes ... while in other parts of England (East Anglia) the coast is disintegrating more quickly.

Your lighthouse - was 'our' Beachy Head lighthouse and they did move it inland - theoretically for 75 years ... but the cliffs are crumbling faster than that - not sure what the prognosis for it is. I must find out ...

@ Bazza - yes, we hear occasionally about Lulworth Cove closing - and as it's not an area I go to ... I'm not sure of the situation now. The cliffs there are limestone based, not quite as soft as our chalk - our chalk is good for champagne though?!

Thanks so much for visiting ... I might do another post in due course answering a few areas of interest that have arisen from the comments so far - take care one and all ... and have happy weeks - cheers Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

I have so many happy memories of Birling Gap! Enjoying a beer sitting on the pub's veranda, a picnic on the beach or simply passing by whilst taking a clifftop walk! Oh, how it's changed over the years. I hope you're on the up now, Hilary, things can only get better!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hope you're feeling much better soon, Hilary!

That's sad about the erosion crumbling those beautiful chalky cliffs. Sounds like it's been rough on the little town, as well.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's sad the whole thing will be lost one day. Our area deals with erosion - between hurricanes and normal ocean movement, many lose their beachfront property when eventually there is no more sand.

Sandra Cox said...

Glad you and your bud had fun.
I hate hearing that those wondrous cliffs are eroding.

Vallypee said...

It's very sad that the cliffs are eroding so much, Hilary, but good that you could take your fellow African to visit them and see how it's all going. I imagine it will be hard to stop them falling into the sea over time. I do hope you feel more like yourself soon, but getting out in the fresh air can only do you good. That parsnip soup sounds good!

mail4rosey said...

Sorry to hear you're not feeling 100%. I hope you're back to your self soon. The trip sounds good. Erosion can def. be a challenge. I see it all the time where I live too.

Computer Tutor said...

Those cliffs are stunning, just crumbling away. I have no idea how far inland it will go.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Such a fascinating day out - the best of England is all these amazing, unusual sights dotted around that one small island. The depth of history in the UK is awe-inspiring. Hope you're soon feeling better!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith – yes, I bet you've been over a few times … lots of mussels to be had, I gather. You'll have seen Birling Gap change so much over many more years than I've been down here. I'll definitely be easier as February nears its end (I expect!) …

@ Elizabeth – I'm just 'off' … mind you some people might say that all the time! The world is constantly changing – now we can see it more easily … 'a town' it isn't – tiny hamlet more like, now under half it's 1890s size … but part of history.

@ Diane – so much of our lands as we know them will change dramatically – the same the world over.

We have records here of major ports now being silted up – but after 600 years: a king visited … hence the record. Henry V and Agincourt – see post 17 Dec 2015. Also about Pevensey and William the Conqueror – see post Nov 2016.

I know your eastern coastline has plenty of hurricane and ocean movement to dislodge the sands … seen via tv …

@ Sandra – it was a lovely day out – peaceful with no stress: all I needed! I think the cliffs will outlast us … but erosion is certainly ongoing …

@ Val – the Netherlands seem to have managed for now to counter the waves and give you more land – we really need some forward thinking engineers here.

It was a lovely day out – I don't remember much about Bulawayo … so must talk to Sue a bit more … I wasn't there long. You're right – fresh air is what I need …

@ Rosey – life is improving … the longer days always help, as too warming weather. You're in the Carolinas I think – a place I'd like to visit one day … so understand your comment about coastal erosion.

@ Jacqui – the coastline is stunning … it attracts hoards of people visiting. It, over time, will continue to erode until harder rock is encountered – we can't hold it back.

@ Judy – great to see you … yes – the best of England is always delightful and full of history – I love finding out more.

Thanks so much for visiting – I'm coming out of my sloth-fugginess slowly but surely … have good weeks – cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

The cafe, bookshop and museum sound like fun to meander through.

Dan said...

Thanks for sharing your visit with us, Hilary. The erosion is amazing to watch over time. I hope you're feeling better, or at least well on your way.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Hilary!
I love it described as 'living history'... Inspirational.

Denise Covey said...

And Hilary, I hope those cylinders are firing up!

Debbie D. said...

Coastal erosion is a serious issue, but those cliffs are fascinating to see. Thanks for the tour. I'm glad you're feeling better. All the best to you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra – the 'centre' (museum et al) is a different sort of set up – as it constantly changes due to the eroding coastline … but interesting to at least look around.

@ Dan – life ticks on, and my life does too – I am feeling better, but not completely, let's hope the Spring weather gives me a better lift up. I'm surprised to see quite how much erosion is taking place.

@ Denise – thanks for both your comments – living history – yes Sue's description – but she's right. The cylinders are starting to fire up a bit more … and I hope will improve considerably more …

@ Debbie – thanks for being here … coastal erosion is sad to see – impossible to control … it's a beautiful area for us in these modern era …

Great to see you all and thanks so much for your thoughts and interest – cheers Hilary

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Hilary - It is almost mid-February so I hope that you are feeling 'out of the woods' now. Sending warm, healing vibes your way.