Just across Poole Harbour on the Isle of Purbeck stand Old Harry Rocks, the most easterly point of the wonderfully named Jurassic Coast. These magnificent chalk cliffs and precarious stacks stand facing the English Channel backed by rolling green countryside with chocolate-box villages of thatched cottages and ancient low-beamed pubs.
These towering cliffs are perilously high and for those with vertigo (like me, whose knees start wobbling as the abyss exerts its mysterious pull) are almost impossible to get too close to, let alone perch like some on the very edge to set out a picnic. Yet many people do. And, on a beautiful sunny day like Easter Sunday, there were dozens of people risking life and limb to clamber out to the furthest extremities, perhaps not fully understanding that these ‘solid walls’ are in fact in a state of perpetual crumbling erosion.
I saw some people sitting without a care in the world on a narrow rib of cliff edge with a 100ft drop below them to either side.
Perhaps they don’t read the Bournemouth Echo which regularly reports on people slipping from the cliff tops, requiring rescue by the RNLI or air ambulance chopper, which seems not surprisingly to circle overhead during these busy daytime hours. Also, not to mention the dogs that run loose across the grass, only to crash through a hedgerow and into the abyss chasing a ball.
You’d think there would be warning signs or perhaps an attempt at a fence, but I couldn’t see anything. And it’s all the more beautiful for that.