Beach and cliff safety

Safety advice for beach and cliff users.

Cliff safety

To ensure that residents and visitors are able to fully enjoy the Yorkshire coast, we would like to advise about potential safety issues on beaches and cliff tops.

Long stretches of the 100 kilometre coastline are affected by coastal erosion as a result of natural processes. Cliff losses linked to coastal erosion can occur at any time of the year and both visitors and residents are advised to take care on beaches and cliff tops by heeding the prominent warning signs and following the safety tips below:

When on the beach:

  • take note of the predicted tide times and any storm warnings from the Environment Agency. These can be found at on the Met Office website.
  • beware of being trapped by incoming tides
  • do not walk at the foot of cliffs as they are unstable - never choose the base of the cliffs as a spot for playing, sunbathing or picnicking
  • do not attempt to climb the cliffs
  • beware of falling rocks and debris from the cliff top
  • never touch or take away objects that have been revealed as the result of an erosion incident - to report suspicious items or coastal problems/incidents, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard, giving the location of the issue - this will assist in ensuring a prompt and accurate response from the emergency services
  • avoid any structures or debris, including the remnants of historic military infrastructure

When on the cliff top:

  • treat all cliffs as dangerous - children and pets should be supervised and kept under control at all times
  • do not throw any items off the cliff top onto the beach
  • do not try to access the beach from the cliff top other than from a signed and designated beach access point
  • keep away from all cliff edges as they may be dangerously undercut by erosion and wave action - adhere to any signs or barriers restricting access or warning of danger
  • do not climb down cliffs as they are unstable and can crumble without warning
  • please keep dogs on leads when walking on cliff tops

Water safety

  • see our  Personal Watercraft Code of Conduct (pdf / 2 MB)
  • only swim between the red and yellow flags when there are lifeguards on duty
  • do not swim when the red flag is flying or when requested not to do so by lifeguards, coastguards or beach superintendents
  • swim within your capabilities and always parallel to the beach
  • do not swim within a short period after eating a meal
  • swim with others, never alone
  • swim only where it is safe to do so avoiding rocks and breakwaters or other man-made structures
  • do not swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • supervise children on the beach or in the water at all times
  • do not use inflatable rings or other inflatable toys in the sea - the tides on the Yorkshire Coast can be very unpredictable and with an offshore wind, inflatables can quickly be carried out to sea
  • beware when diving into the sea as water depth can change and the water may cover objects
  • please visit the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for further information

Tombstoning or jumping from height in to the sea

It is strongly recommended that you DO NOT jump from a height into the sea, especially from cliffs, piers, sea defences and sea walls. Please consider the following risks and hazards :

  • never jump from any object into the sea whilst under peer pressure, the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • check the depth of the water you are jumping into - remember tides can go in and out very quickly, so while it may start off deep enough it can soon become shallow
  • check for hazards in the water you are jumping into - rocks and objects under the sea may not be visible through the surface, but you will certainly feel them if you jump onto them