The Beach Below The Spittles 2

Pieces of shale on the beach with holes made by piddocks

After the beach boulders and scattered rusty metal debris, there is sequence of flat rock platforms exposed by the retreating water. They are riddled with holes made by the boring bivalves known as piddocks, some burrows just have empty shells in them but others are still occupied by the living molluscs that squirt water a foot or more into the air at frequent intervals. A velvet swimming crab mooches around the edges of the platforms, and sand tube and mud tube dwelling worms abound on all the surfaces.

The Beach Below The Spittles

Rusty painted metal junk on the seashore with rocks

I discovered an interesting stretch of shoreline when I visited Lyme Regis yesterday. The cliff location is known as The Spittles and it is situated immediately east of the new sea wall. The tide was going out but not as far as in March 2010. Enough to disclose an array of boulders with scattered fossils, broken coloured glass, and rusting metal. The man-made junk resulted from a major landslide in 2008 when the contents of an old town rubbish tip (which had been in existence from 1920 to 1973) cascaded shore-wards with the rocks and mud. The junk continues to wear out of the cliff face to the present time.

There are some interesting items to be found. The rusting metal components, often with remnants of paint, provide intriguing contrasts with the natural environment in which they are lodged. There is a striking similarity between the metal colours and textures and those of the dead and dying autumnal colours of seaweed. As the water receded, it left intricate patterns in the sand around the rocks and even in fine sediments of smoother rock surfaces.

Low Tide at Lyme Regis

View from Lyme Regis over low-tide beds of seaweed towards the Cobb

The tide went out a long way on 10th March 2012. A very long way. For the first time ever I was able to see the glory of the hitherto hidden acres of golden-fronded kelps, brown fucoids, and red seaweeds carpeting the rocks at Lyme Regis. Usually when I visit the water is high on the shingle beach but on this occasion I could follow the water as it went out over the sand and rocks to get an entirely new perspective by looking up the shore, to the Cobb, the town, the fossiliferous cliffs of Black Ven and Charmouth to the east, including sight of Golden Cap. I didn’t know it at the time but this was the last time I was going to see the old breakwaters at Church Cliff.

Beds of seaweed exposed at low tide in Lyme Regis

Low-tide expanse of sandy shore at Lyme Regis in Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweeds at Lyme Regis in Dorset, UK, along the Jurassic coast.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed beds at low tide in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK.

Seaweed-filled rock pools at Lyme Regis in Dorset, UK.

The Old Sea Wall at Church Cliff February 2011

Concrete sea wall and steps for climbing over the breakwaters

Concrete sea wall and breakwater at high tideThis was almost the last time that I saw the old sea wall and breakwaters at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis. As part of a scheme to improve the sea defences in Lyme Regis, the breakwaters were demolished a few years later and the old sea wall,  as it was seen in these images, disappeared from sight and was replaced by a stronger structure more fit for purpose and providing additional amenity value. I was surprised how different these shots were from the earlier ones from 2010. The tide was in and covering seaweed and cobbles, the light was different and had a big impact on the colours observed, and it was a different camera and that had an effect too.

Old Sea Wall at Church Cliff Part 1

The sea defences at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis back in June 2010

The main sea defence structure at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis back in 2010 and 2011 was a concrete sea wall. This was built into the base of a cliff that is made of soft slipping strata. It was from the sea wall that the iron and wood breakwaters jutted out at right angles to deflect the impact of the sea. The concrete wall in part held back the cliff and in part prevented undercutting by the waves. Over time the wall had become stained by run-off from above and by lichen and bacterial deposits to form interesting striped patterns with subtle variations like an almost monochromatic natural abstract art along the length of the wall. This wall has since been replaced by a much stronger structure, along with the demolition of the breakwaters.

Rust Patterns on the Old Church Cliff Breakwaters

Details of natural colours, patterns, and textures in rusty iron

The corroding ironwork on the now defunct breakwaters at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis revealed fascinating patterns and textures when viewed in close-up. These macro photographs show some of the wonderful details and colours. I only have seen similar rusting seaside ironwork before on the pier structure at Weymouth.

Old Sea Defences at Church Cliff Part 1

Rusting ironwork on a wooden breakwater

These pictures were taken in 2010. None of them are edited or altered. They show details from breakwaters at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis, Dorset, that jutted out at right angles to the old sea wall. In combination, the structures were designed as coastal defences to protect the base of the soft crumbling cliffs from erosion by the sea. It was clear that the breakwaters, or groynes, had seen better days and were in need of repair. The iron that was supporting and holding the timbers together was very rusty. A lot of the woodwork was missing. In fact, they were very dilapidated but full of interesting colours and textures. The images in this post focus mainly on the corroding ironwork and include context shots to set the scene. Much has changed since these photographs were taken.