Strandline at Chesil Cove is a bit misleading because most of the flotsam seems to have collected on the top of the Chesil Beach shingle bank nearer to the Ferry Bridge Visitor Centre than Chiswell – as you can see in the pictures above and below.
From the top of the massive pebble bank, the walker gets a bird’s eye view of this incredible geological phenomenon stretching for miles into the distance. Even the presence of the strandline astride this feature is pretty unbelievable. The waves must have been well over forty foot high to have deposited the flotsam here – and not only on the top but over the highest point to the other (road) side where it has rolled down to the base of the bank.
The shingle bank is not only high but wide. You can get an idea of the scale of the ridge from the lone figure marching into the middle distance in the top photograph.
The flotsam snakes its meandering way along the brow of the ridge. Looking down to the right you can see traffic on the road connecting Wyke Regis with Portland. The South West Coastal path runs parallel to the shingle ridge on the flat ground to its landward side.
When I set out to walk along the beach from Chesil Cove to Ferry Bridge on 23rd April, the shore was clean of any debris – although I understand that this may not be the case when winds drive the sea into the easternmost corner of the Cove. It was not until I had been walking a while that I noticed a sparse scatter of small pieces of driftwood on the top of the shingle bank about half a mile from Chesil Cove.
A bit further on, greater quantities and larger pieces of driftwood formed the strandline; this was about three quarters of a mile along the top of the Chesil Beach shingle bank from Chesil Cove. Brightly coloured synthetic objects were just making an appearance as well.
A moderate accumulation of equal quantities of organic and inorganic flotsam made up the strandline about a mile along the top of Chesil Beach shingle bank from Chesil Cove – you can still see plenty of pebbles between the rubbish. Most of the man-made rubbish seemed to be fishing rope and net together with plastic bottle tops. A fair number of lost shoes and boots had also found their way to the strandline. You can see pictures of these items of flotsam in the next two posts (23rd and 24th May, 2009).
Below, the collection of rubbish has become denser; in places you can hardly see the shingle beneath it. This was about a mile and a quarter from Chesil Cove and a quarter of a mile from the Ferry Bridge Visitor Centre.
On this occasion there was remarkably little organic debris on the strandline. There was no seaweed, no shells, no animals on that day. This would mostly be due to the extensive shingle providing an inhospitable habitat for most organisms. Interesting items do get washed up occasionally and there is a collection of these in the Visitor Centre near Ferry Bridge.
All the flotsam pictured here was removed by a band of volunteers the following weekend in the Great Dorset Beach Clean. The GDBC takes place a couple of times a year on the Jurassic Coast to keep the beaches clean for visitors and to protect the wildlife in the environment.