South West coast path landslips 10 times higher than normal

Port Isaac landslip, April 2013 In Cornwall, part of the cliff collapsed at Port Isaac on 1 April

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There have been 10 times more landslips than normal on the South West coast path over the winter, figures show.

The South West Coast Path Association said 30 slips and cliff falls have been recorded since November.

Between 2007 and 2012 there were 11 major cliff falls that resulted in a diversion of the coast path

Earlier this week, thousands of tonnes of earth and sandstone fell from the cliffs at Oddicombe in Devon, turning the sea red.

'Unprecedented number'

The coastpath, which is 630 miles long (1,014km), starts at Minehead in Somerset and follows the entire South West peninsula covering Devon and Cornwall's north and south coasts all the way to Poole Harbour in Dorset.

The association, which supports and promotes the path, said prolonged rainfall has made the cliffs along it far more unstable than normal.

Many sections of the path have had to be diverted as a result of the falls, with many warning signs erected to walkers to take extra care.

Landslip at Oddicombe beach Thousands of tonnes of earth turned the sea at Oddicombe red

Association spokesman Steve Church said the "unprecedented" number of falls was alarming.

"Thirty-odd cliff falls around the whole of the cliff path - not just Devon - is an unprecedented number and they still seem to be coming at the moment unfortunately, so it's all a bit alarming," he told BBC News.

"The difficulty is knowing exactly when things have stabilised enough to be actually attempt a long-term reinstatement. I hope we're getting to that stage."

In February Natural England, which looks after national trails, said the funding to repair damage to the coast path would not be available, but the association said because it has been fundraising to mark the path's 40th anniversary, it will have money for some repairs.

South West Coast Path National Trail Officer Mark Owen said research it commissioned last year estimated the direct spend attributable to walkers on the coast path in 2011 was more than £350m.

He said the annual maintenance budget had been reduced - in common with other government budgets - by 30% since 2009, but at £600,000 there was now "minimal slack" to cover the cost of repairing the amount of damage caused in the past few months.

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