The Shore Below the New Sea Wall (Part 2)

The rock ledges below the new sea wall at Church Cliffs in Lyme Regis, Dorset, are the upper strata of the Blue Lias limestone. The natural limestone ledges and the smooth artificial substrate of the concrete sea wall,  provide a home for numerous seashore creatures like limpets, winkles, and top shells as well as many commonly attached red, green and brown seaweeds, and encrusting calcareous algae (pink Lithamnion). The brown substance sticking to a lot of limpet shells is also an encrusting seaweed (probably Brown Limpet Paint Ralfsia verrucosa).

Multitudes of small holes penetrating the rocks are the often-occupied burrows of small marine polychaete worms like the Polydora species. Occasional drifts of sandy ripples coating the stone are punctured by largish round holes where bivalved burrowing piddocks living in the rocks below have squirted jets of water from their exhalent siphons and cleared the sand away.

It is interesting to see that the seashore life is equally at home on the old concrete footings from the defunct breakwaters as it is on the limestone.

The Shore Below the New Sea Wall (Part 1)

The shore beneath the new sea wall in Lyme Regis looks very different now the old breakwaters or groynes have been removed. You can still see the linear concrete footings of the old wood and iron structures but most of the pebbles and cobbles that used to accumulate between the walls are now absent (at least for the moment). A bare rock pavement is revealed, comprising a series of steps representing the strata and colonised by seaweeds. Rippled sand sometimes deposits in the valleys between the rock ledges.

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.