A council has become embroiled in a row over smelly seaweed after it refused to remove kelp for eco reasons.
Beachgoers have complained of having to wade through a carpet of malodorous seaweed to get to the sea in Weymouth, Dorset.
Officials have said they have chosen not to clear the seaweed because it helps “preserve the integrity of the ecosystem” and it is an important food source for marine invertebrates.
A spokesman for Weymouth town council said they were not striving to provide a “controlled swimming pool experience” and they urged visitors to “embrace the raw beauty of nature”.
Weymouth was last month among 128 beaches in England to be granted a Seaside Award and 78 sites awarded a Blue Flag for being one of the best and cleanest beaches in Britain.
But the majority of the sandy beach by the Pavilion end is covered in a thick layer of seaweed and beachgoers have been avoiding the area.
One woman wrote on the travel review website TripAdvisor: “The sea is brown because it is full of small pieces of seaweed washing ashore.
“When you go into the sea you are covered in it when you get out. To reach the sea you have to walk through a thick mat of rotting seaweed about 6ft wide and 6 inches deep (like a huge cowpat) along the beach.
“In the lovely warm weather we are having it is attracting lots of flies and is really smelly.
‘I would avoid Weymouth beach’
“It’s really unpleasant. I would avoid Weymouth beach, especially with young children.”
Another beachgoer stated: “The beach has a lot of seaweed currently. Although this is natural I’m pretty sure it used to be cleaned away. Not overly nice for young kids to walk through to get to the sea.”
The huge amount of seaweed is thought to have been caused by two weeks of easterly winds.
A Weymouth town council spokesman defended the decision not to clear it away by saying it supports its commitment to preserve the ecosystem of the beach.
They said: “We are aware of recent comments about seaweed on a small area of our award winning beach.
“Occasionally north easterly winds result in seaweed being washed up on the southern section of the beach.
Steven Palmer said: “The only thing Weymouth has to offer visitors is our lovely clean beach. Just clean it before people go elsewhere. The damage on the environment is negligible, but the damage on our economy is massive.”
Sue Wormald said: “Is this another term for how can we save a few bob? No mow May and sod the seaweed June. Next it will be where have the holiday makers gone summer.”