Schoolboy, 15, who fell 60ft off a sheer cliff walked away ‘virtually uninjured’

The 15-year-old lost his footing while he was standing near the cliff edge at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage, Dorset
The 15-year-old lost his footing while he was standing near the cliff edge at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage, Dorset - BNPS

A teenager had a remarkable escape after he fell 60ft off a sheer cliff as he posed for a photograph on a school trip.

The schoolboy, 15, lost his footing while he was standing near the precipice of the cliff at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage, Dorset.

His teachers and classmates watched in horror and feared the worst as he disappeared over the edge.

The teenager landed on his side of a shingle bed at the base of the chalk cliffs. Remarkably, he was able to get to his feet and walk towards the shore.

The schoolboy fell 60ft on to shingle (red line) then got up and walked around the cliff (blue line) and waited to be rescued by the Swanage lifeboat
The schoolboy fell 60ft on to shingle (red line) then got up and walked around the cliff (blue line) and waited to be rescued by the Swanage lifeboat - BNPS

Coastguards and a lifeboat crew rushed to the scene and found the teenager who had suffered just a cut to his head and a scratch to his back in the fall.

He was checked over by an ambulance crew at Knoll Beach, Studland, who said he didn’t need hospital treatment.

The boy, who has not been named, later phoned his mother to let her know he was OK.

Coastguards said they can’t fathom how the boy was not killed or seriously injured.

Warning sign

Ian Brown, of the Swanage coastguard, said the teen would have had to walk past a warning sign urging people to stay away from the edge of the cliff at the famous beauty spot.

He said he was told the boy had asked for his photograph to be taken of himself by a friend when the accident happened at 1.55pm on Thursday.

Mr Brown said: “The 15-year-old boy was on a school trip from London doing a geography field study. The pupils were all advised not to go too close to the edge but he wanted a picture of himself next to it.

“His friend was meant to take the photo but as he did the boy fell over the edge. Whether he lost his footing and slipped I don’t know but it was a sheer drop of 60ft.

“His teachers were beside themselves and students probably thought the worst. But they saw him quite quickly get up and start walking towards the shore.”

Tide was out

The tide was out at the time and it is thought the boy landed on shingle that was on top of soft seaweed.

The Swanage lifeboat crew attended the scene and a volunteer found the boy below the cliffs ‘virtually uninjured’.

A spokesperson for the Swanage lifeboat said: “The inshore lifeboat was first to arrive on scene and the casualty was located at the base of the cliff on the Studland side of Handfast Point close to Old Harry Rocks.

“After an initial assessment the casualty was found to be virtually uninjured with just a few cuts and grazes.”

He was placed on the inshore lifeboat and taken to Knoll Beach where he was examined by ambulance paramedics and spoken to by coastguards.

Ian Brown of the Swanage coastguard said: 'We can't quite fathom how he survived virtually uninjured'
Ian Brown of the Swanage coastguard said: 'We can't quite fathom how he survived virtually uninjured' - BNPS

Mr Brown said: “He had a cut to his head and a scratch on his back but that was it. He said he landed on shingle on his side.

“We can’t quite fathom how he survived virtually uninjured.

“I spoke with him and told him he wasn’t in trouble but that we wanted to find out what had happened. He just shrugged it off and said he was fine. He wasn’t shocked but his teachers were telling him that he didn’t know how lucky he was.”

The boy was wearing tracksuit bottoms and trainers and was shirtless as he and friends had been playing football.

Not the first

Mr Brown said: “People visiting the coast should stay away from the edge of cliffs because you just don’t know what the ground is like.”

The schoolboy is not the first person to survive a sheer fall off Old Harry Rocks.

In 2021 28-year-old Alex Tridico had a miraculous escape when he lost his footing and plunged off the cliff.

On that occasion the tide was in and he landed in shallow water.