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Incident whilst camping at Birling Gap
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Incident whilst camping at Birling Gap

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Bob Lawton recalls this incident when he and some other boys were walking along the beach,

at the base of the 'Seven Sisters' chalk cliffs, returning to their campsite at Birling Gap - a popular spot for Caldecott camping. The tide was coming in but hadn't presented a problem until the group came upon an outcrop of fallen chalk boulders that extended out into the water.

Climbing over the outcrop presented difficulties, whilst trying to go round it would probably result in a drenching from the sizeable waves. The group noticed the position of the high-tide mark and realized that if they moved nearer the cliff base, they could sit out of reach of the coming high tide and wait for the water to recede. (Obviously forgetting the risk of further cliff falls!)

Somehow, people's heads started to appear at the cliff top, and although the group tried to indicate that they were quite safe (?), never-the-less the alarm was raised and in due course an in-shore lifeboat arrived to effect a rescue. By this time the water had receded somewhat and crossing the outcrop at the water line seemed less risky than trying to jump into a bouncing boat. After a short discussion with the boat crew the group chose the 'crossing' option. This was done under the watchful eye of the boat crew who were thanked for their help, and the group, slightly damp by then, had an uneventful walk for the remainder of the journey to camp.

Bob related this incident to Simon Roway who promptly declared that he still had the newspaper report of this incident. The report is copied here, and the original is now in the Archives.