28 Jan 2008
Eroding boulderclay cliffs.
Same stretch of cliff, two months apart. This has been a wet January in North East England. According to Philip Eden, weather forecaster and meteohistorian, there has been 245% more rainfall than the 1971-2000 average. This soaks the boulder clay cliffs which ooze towards the sea, where the waves at high water do a bit more destruction. Then, when the cliffs dry lumps simply crack away and fall to the beach. A sea wall and rock armour protects 'bottom Runswick' (the part of the village at the foot of the bank, by the sea) but the clay undercliff has a strange little community of its own: holiday shacks like this, set in clearings in the hawthorn scrub. There are a dozen or so of these shanties along the cliff, occupied during holidays. They used to be a popular hideout for escapees from Northallerton Gaol - it was one of the first places North Yorkshire Police would look for a fugitive. The owners can sometimes be seen barrowing boulders around the beach to improvise their own rock armour at the feet of their particular bit of cliff to stop the waves doing their worst, and hurrah to them for their low-tech, low carbon (no mains electricity or gas) holiday havens.