SLN  geoforum





The Geography Department





Easton Bavents and North Southwold   November 2004

Covehithe   June 2000

Covehithe   February 2002  rapid gullying and further cliff recession .. also a look at Benacre.
Covehithe   November 19 2004


Easton Bavents 19 November  2004

Easton Bavents and North Southwold   June 2006


Easton Bavents, Southwold, Dunwich & Sizewell  December 2008

Southwold to Kessingland via Easton Bavents and Covehithe  5 September 2009

1 - Southwold pier and town defences to Mr Boggis' defences

2 - Easton cliffs and Broad to Covehithe Broad

3 - Covehithe cliffs to Benacre Broad and towards Kessingland - and back


The beach at north Southwold is within a protected coastline, backed by a stepped sea wall  with sheet piling, and with groynes .. .although some seem to be in disrepair

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The sea defences taking a fair amount of punishment from a choppy sea. To the north is Easton Bavents and the eroding coast.

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The transition from maintained and organised defences, to the boulders (and tetrahydra) and then topsoil of ) the improvised defences.

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The fine topsoil is eroding rapidly (left) and undermining the beach access track (centre) whose edge is crumbling. The relationship between beach, access track and clifftop house can be seen on the right.

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The structure of the cliffs at Easton Bavents. Despite intervention, the building appears to have little time left unless the cliff is replaced directly in front of it, and to the same level as the house.

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To the north of the improvised defences can be seen the cliff in its natural state. Humus-rich boulders have fallen from the uppermost layers, and the structure of the fine sand is visible. The coast here, as at Covehithe, has no substantial resistance to erosion, and any falls are soon removed fro its base (right).

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Southwold pier seen from the roadway to the beach at Easton Bavents.

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BBC on Peter Boggis and Easton Bavents

Waveney Council statement



Shifting Sands


“Too expensive and unlikely to have lasting benefits…” that is how a suggestion that a similar scheme for Southwold to the one at Sea Palling was dismissed.
The scheme at Sea Palling, pictured above, is one of rock barriers running parallel to the shoreline and demonstrates an option that could also have huge benefits for the Southwold frontage.
However, Town Councillors have given their backing to another scheme drawn up by Halcrow Group Ltd., even though some Cllrs have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of such a plan.

Sole Bay was once a real bay until Easton Ness to the north and Dunwich to the south were lost to the sea. For hundreds of years the coast around Southwold has been eroding; at Easton Bavents, north of the pier, around 10 metres of farmland was lost to the sea in 2001.
Southwold itself has been threatened and, in the 19th century, a variety of groynes and breakwaters were constructed to try to protect the shoreline.
They needed constant repair and replacement and were unpopular with fishermen because they made sailing hazardous. Today these groynes are so dilapidated that they are no longer effective at holding the beach material on the shoreline, but instead allow the free movement of water and wave action to constantly erode the beach.

Since the 1900s sea defence work has continued. Concrete promenades stemmed the erosion to the coastal border of the town itself and the groynes you see now were erected in 1980. Even so, high tides combined with gale force winds still from time to time, drive the sea over the promenade, sometimes sweeping away a beach hut or two.
Meanwhile the erosion of the sand cliffs at Easton continues and there is fear that one day the sea will break through and sweep in towards the town over the marshes from the North.

Urgent work to replace the ageing groynes and build up the beach has been put ‘on hold’ because of a lack of funds – it is now urgent that the existing defences to the north of Southwold do not become undermined or breached before coast protection work is initiated.

While the agencies responsible for the protection of the coast have been dithering, local resident Mr. Peter Boggis has been taking action by tipping thousands of tons of soft material over the cliff at Easton Bavents to form a temporary barrier and so slow the rate of erosion. Although the authorities have threatened Mr. Boggis with legal action in order to stop him, as yet they have not come up with a better and more cost effective remedy – however the Organ noted that one of the Environment Agency’s ‘Preferred Options’ for beach protection recommends ‘the import of beach material to create and maintain a protective beach at a design level well above the current situation’ – is this not exactly what Mr. Boggis has been doing? And at no cost to the public purse!
In their latest joint newsletter, both the Environment Agency and Waveney District Council acknowledge that “works to the northern end of Easton Marshes have been deferred, and that the urgency for new works has been reduced following the cliff protection works undertaken by a private landowner”.

During a Special Meeting of Southwold Town Council on 24th August, to consider an application for development permission to improve existing coastal and river defences by WDC, Cllrs voted in favour of accepting what is known as ‘the Preferred Option’ . This is a scheme to; i) reconstruct parts of the existing seawall and promenade, ii) remove existing derelict groynes and replace them with shorter, more closely spaced groynes in rock north of the pier, and timber to the south of the pier, iii) to import beach material and iv) to construct a new earth embankment at Botany Marshes to the west of the town.
During these discussions, Independent WDC Cllr Ladd declared that he had been advised not to speak, which would beg the question - whose interests do representatives that sit on both WDC and the Town Council have at heart?
Other Cllrs professed that they were not technically competent to comment on the scheme, which left very few Cllrs to express any opinion.
Cllr Goldsmith affirmed his view that Southwold is being outflanked by the sea and nothing can be done about it. While Cllr Austin thought any new rock groynes would prove more useful to mussel pickers, than act as sea defences. Cllr Miller thought no one was an expert on coastal erosion, there were just varying degrees of ignorance on the subject. He also felt the new pier had somehow affected wave movement along the shore and this had led to a change in the scouring of the beach.

(Thanks to Southwold Museum and Eoin Costen of Craftsman Publishing for material supplied).

Suffolk Southwold Pier Easton Bavents coasts erosion defences Peter Boggis home made cliffs sea wall recurved rock armour rip rap groynes  tetrapods