A huge sinkhole has appeared at a coastal beauty spot revealing a hidden underground beach. Erosion and landslips have left a gaping 40ft-wide hole in the cliffs at Whitburn, near Sunderland. The natural phenomenon, called Souter Hole, first appeared as a small sinkhole in 2003 but it has grown every year since. The hole is now so big a hidden beach has been revealed with the sea forcing its way through a crack in one of the cliff walls. The National Trust, which manages the cliff path around the sinkhole, are warning walkers and dog owners to avoid the area. Beach artist Clair Eason, a former GP, captured the true extent of the sinkhole while exploring the coastline near her home. She said: “This deep sink hole near Souter Point, South Shields, began as a small hollow a few years ago. “It’s growing into a huge beast, adding even more drama to the rugged coastline.” The National Trust has been forced to cordone off the sinkhole which is close to the cliff coast path. A spokesperson said: “We want all of our visitors to have an enjoyable, relaxed and safe visit to Whitburn Coastal Park. “By its nature the coastline is constantly changing, with some areas particularly prone to erosion and landslips. "This sink hole first appeared around 2003 and is regularly surveyed. “We have put up fencing and warning signs around this sink hole, which is away from the main path running along the cliff tops of The Leas and Whitburn Coastal Park, known locally as The Wherry. "There are warning signs at key points along the cliff edges, as well as visitor information panels in each car park. "We'd urge people to take a moment to look at these signs, and to stick to the main paths to keep themselves, their children, and their dogs safe."
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