Watch: Moment Dorset cliff collapses into sea

An unstable cliff collapsed onto a beach in Dorset just a few metres from people taking an Easter stroll.

The collapse at West Bay, on the Jurassic Coast, on Friday sent a large section of the cliff crashing into the English Channel.

The local council subsequently closed the South West Coast Path, which runs along the cliff top and warned the public to “stay away from the edge and base of cliffs” on the beach.

But that did not stop walkers going out for an Easter Sunday stroll on top of the precarious cliff, ignoring signs warning of the dangers.

People close to cliff edge in Dorset - Walkers take lives in their hands at edge of unstable Dorset cliffs
Watch your step – despite warnings visitors continue to get up close to the cliff edge - BNPS/Graham Hunt

One pair were spotted very close to its edge, while another individual was seen scrambling over the mass of rubble that remains at its base.

Other beachgoers walked on the sand at the bottom of the cliff despite the possibility of further rockfalls.

Video footage captured the moment the cliff collapsed on Good Friday, with some members of the public less than 50 metres further along the beach when it fell away.

Omar El-Haj, a witness who filmed it, said: “As soon as I zoomed in, the cliff began to collapse. People were mere metres away as several tons of rock came crashing down into the sea.”

Despite warning signs people clambered on top of the rocks that had fallen from the unstable cliff above
Despite advice not to people clambered on top of the rocks that had fallen from the unstable cliff above - BNPS/Graham Hunt

Dorset Council warned other walkers to beware a “greater risk of landslides of rockfalls”.

“Please take extra care if you’re visiting the coast this weekend – rockfalls and landslips can happen quickly and without warning,” it said in a statement. “Please take notice of signage and stay away from the edge and base of cliffs.”

There were three other rockfalls further along the beach in late January, and another happened during Storm Ciaran last November.

The National Trust warned after that storm that one section of the Dorset coast at Hive Beach near Burton Bradstock had suffered 15 years worth of erosion in one day.