Mike Collins is a Senior Press Officer with the National Trust. Following a visit to Studland Beach, he tells us how the winter storms have affected this coastal beauty spot.
Studland on the Dorset coast is a classic beach; golden sands with a dramatic seascape from east to west and town ebbing into countryside. More than a million people every year come to this jewel on the south coast seaside.
This popular and much-loved beach is on the front-line of how our coastline is changing and the challenges of managing the scale and pace of change that is happening now.
With Poole and Bournemouth to the east and Old Harry’s Rocks to the west, this 2.5 mile beach captures our hearts and minds. This is a place that has been changing for hundreds of years as sands have built up along the coast, and is likely to continue to change dramatically in the years ahead as that sand is washed away.
And there is a need to talk to visitors and people that come to the beach on days out about the future of a place at the forefront of coastal change.
The winter storms and south-easterly winds blowing in have seen up to eight metres of beach lost in some places. One of the beach rangers, who has spent the last three decades working at this really special place, has rated this as one of the worst winters for weather he has seen.
Trees have come down, paths have been washed away and some of the ever popular beach huts teeter on the edge. The recent extreme weather has clearly demonstrated the many challenges we face in managing the coast.
Hundreds of beach huts are dotted along the beautiful Studland coast but their future hangs in the balance. However, the Living with a Changing Coast project in partnership with the Arts University Bournemouth is working on an exciting and important project to look at how these much loved symbols of life by the seaside can be adapted for the realities of a rapidly changing coastline.
Studland shows the changes affecting the coast on a human scale. In a matter of centuries the beaches of this south east corner of Dorset have changed rapidly and the projections for the future point to increasing pattern of erosion which will bring more challenges.
That is why the team that manages this beautiful stretch of coastline is thinking big and bold, looking at how to work with change. Telling the story of our changing coast to the million plus visitors is at the heart of taking people on a journey into the future.