Rockham Beach access update

LATEST UPDATE 12th May 2016

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Rockham beach is open
Access to beautiful Rockham Beach, close to Mortehoe on the north Devon coast, has been restored after a long period of closure. The steps were washed away during severe February 2014. We hope that if you are in the area you can make use of the new steps and enjoy this beautiful beach once more.

The repair work was delayed due to the complicated geology of the site. The National Trust and Devon County Council have developed a suitable solution which will keep the beach access open for the foreseeable future.

The work has been funded by the Coastal Communities Fund, through a £1.2 million grant awarded to the South West Coast Path Association to deliver 46 repair and improvement projects along the Path following the 2014 storms. The Coastal Communities Fund is financed by the government through the funding equivalent of 50% of the revenues earned from the Crown Estate’s marine activities in England and the devolved administrations.
Mark Owen, National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path says:
“The impact that the cliff falls and associated Coast Path closures had on local businesses following the storms in early 2014 actually led to a decrease in tourism spend and jobs supported by the Coast Path were estimated to have reduced from 11,393 to 10,610 in the region.
“Repairs and improvements to popular sites along the South West Coast Path, such as Rockham Beach, which attract large numbers of visitors, will help to encourage visitors to return to these very special places and support the local community.
“The large grant we received from the Coastal Communities Fund has provided many opportunities to work with partners to improve access to the beautiful South West Coast Path.”

National Trust Lead Ranger Jonathan Fairhurst said “I am delighted that the steps to Rockham Beach have finally been reopened. The destruction and damage by the Valentine’s day storm won’t be forgotten in a hurry. With predictions of more stormy weather, and climate change, the National Trust will have a role to play in helping to keep places like Rockham open to the public, but ultimately we may be at mercy of the weather.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The devastating 2014 storms caused more than £24 million of damage to infrastructure across the county, so it has taken time to recover from the legacy of its impact. Rockham Beach is a well-loved asset for this area so I’m sure everyone will welcome the reinstatement of the steps to the beach.”

LATEST UPDATE 15th February 2016

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Good news – Contractors Marine and Civil Solutions are on site today starting phase one of the construction of the new Rockham Beach Steps. They are working alongside Celtic Rock Ltd, who are rock/cliff stabilization experts, to put in place safety scaffolding and rock pinning to stabilize part of the cliff.  All being well the main bearers for the steps will be in place within the week.

Please take care when walking along the Coast Path past Rockham Beach and also along the Lighthouse Road as there will be increased construction vehicular traffic for the next three weeks.

LATEST UPDATE: January 2016

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Great news! We have been informed by the contractors that they will be working on installing the new steps on site from 15th February. The work should then be completed within three to four weeks. While they are working in the area, you may encounter vehicles and people at work when you are walking in the area. Please go carefully and follow any diversion signs.

Survey work of the damaged flight of steps at Rockham

Survey work of the damaged flight of steps at Rockham

As many of you will know we lost access to Rockham Beach last year following the severe storms of February 2014. The project to reinstate access is a complex one given the unstable and eroding nature of the cliffs surrounding Rockham Beach. Below is an update of the current situation with the project.

Following site visits from a Consultant Engineer and Geologists from Robson Liddle Ltd earlier in the year, they produced some rock face survey information and the design loadings for a proposed flight of steps which will bridge the gap left by the collapsed concrete steps at the top of the cliffs to the surviving wooden flight of steps.

For this solution to work and last for 10 years we need to know that the half landing where the current wooden flight of steps starts will be strong enough and support a new structure secured to it. In order to clarify this the geologist reports have been sent to a specialist that carries out rock face stabilisations.  They will provide a proposal and rough costing’s for work needed to support the half landing, this is a key piece of work as the design stems around the ability to provide support at this point and therefore achieve the 10 year life span required.

This photograph show the geologist surveying the cliff face and also the surviving wooden flight of steps we are hoping to join the new flight of steps too from the top of the cliff.

The project is a partnership project between the National Trust, Devon County Council and the South West Coast Path Association and funded by the Coastal Communities Fund.

UPDATE 18 November 2015

Devon County Council have now had two quotes for the work, unfortunately both are for more than the current grant secured for the project leaving a shortfall of around £35k. DCC have said they do not have any funds to put towards the project. We have asked CCF, the grant givers, for more funds and Jonathan our lead ranger for the area is trying to secure some National Trust funds but as yet no news. The steps are still officially closed. Sorry this is not a more positive update.

15 responses to “Rockham Beach access update

  1. It’s fantastic that your website keeps Rockham beach lovers up to date with developments. Hopefully one day soon we will all be able to enjoy that steep but rewarding walk down the beach steps again. All best wishes with this worthwhile project & thanks for the updates.

  2. This was my boyhood playground! Even though I’m on the other side of the world now I am keen to see the access re-established so that if i get to come ‘home’ again, i will be able to walk the rockham sands and submarine rock again. I’m told the hand rail at the top of the steps was put there by my grandfather so I feel very much ‘connected!

    • If all goes to plan the work should be completed by the end of the year, so should you make it ‘home’ you will be able to play on Rockham once more

  3. And further updates?

  4. Devon County Council have now had two quotes for the work, unfortunately both are for more than the current grant secured for the project. The project is approx £35k short. DCC have said they do not have any funds to put towards the project. We have asked CCF, the grant givers for more funds and our lead ranger is trying to secure some NT funds but as yet no news. The steps are still officially closed. Sorry not to have more positive news.

  5. We too hope there is a way of securing the funds as this is a beautiful beach and it is a shame no-one can enjoy it at the moment.

  6. Have you considered approaching Fullabrook CIC for additional funding? Not sure it’s eligible but worth checking out as it is certainly in the community interest.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I will pass on to our lead ranger who is looking into ways of funding.

    • Having now spoken to our lead ranger he has advised the following with regards to the funding you asked about;

      We cannot apply for Fullabrook funding because it states on their website that large national charities are not eligible to. This would include the National Trust as we are a large charitable organisation. Thank you for your interest and support over this matter.

  7. Jean Middleton

    We also lost the footpath from Morte point to Woolacombe which is still blocked off. What is happening to that one?

    • Woolacombe to Morte Point footpath – this is unlikely to be reopened due to the nature of the cliff fall. The path is extremely dangerous and impassable with no opportunity without neighbouring property owners consent to divert the path around the cliff collapse. This stretch of footpath is not on National Trust property so is the responsibility of DCC highways department and for them to approach the local property owners.

  8. Whilst accepting access must be safe, do we need a Rolls Royce solution? We regularly use the camp site above Rockham, but if we cannot access the beach……!!! Hopefully DCC and the National Trust can work together to create a solution.

  9. Yesterday morning was spent at the beautiful Rockham Beach which is purely magical.
    Hard work and money spent much appreciated by this family,
    Many thanks!!!

  10. My Scottish Terrier Radley & I have just spent a few days camping at North Morte Farm. So pleased to be able to reach Rockham beach again after two seasons without access. It’s a truly wild & magical beach, the first one my companion enjoyed as a puppy in 2011. Fantastic job done on the steps on a very challenging site. Well done to all who have helped achieve this & a big Thankyou from both of us. Radley still remembered the way to the beach from the campsite & was down the steps in no time.

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