Sinkhole danger warning at coastal beauty spot in Whitburn

Safety barriers at Souter, The Leas sink hole
Safety barriers at Souter, The Leas sink hole

National trust chiefs are urging people to stay away from a sinkhole which has appeared at a coastal beauty spot as they look to relocating safety barriers.

The four-metre deep hole, which drops down into a cave, was discovered over the weekend south of Souter Lighthouse, close to the existing cliff-top barriers.

Safety measures were carried out at the site while South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade put up additional barriers weighed down by sandbags.

Warning signs were also put in place to urge people to stay away and to stick to the main paths while dog owners are being advised to keep their pets on leads in the area.

Plans are now being looked at to relocate the existing safety barrier further inland which will leave the sinkhole on cliff-side.

A sinkhole is caused by erosion and the drainage of water and can be of varying sizes. This sinkhole has been caused due to natural coastal erosion.

Eric Wilton, General Manger for National Trust’s South of Tyne property group, said: “We want all of our visitors to have an enjoyable, relaxed and safe visit to Souter Lighthouse and The Leas.

“By its nature the coastline is constantly changing, with some areas particularly prone to erosion and landslips. We have put up fencing and warning signs around this sink hole, which is away from the main path running along the cliff tops of The Leas and Whitburn Coastal Park.

“We are investigating the possibility of moving the current safety barrier to the other side of the hole to direct members of the public away from the area and there are warning signs at key points along the cliff edges, as well as visitor information panels in each car park.

“We’d urge people to take a moment to take a look at these, and to stick to the main paths, to help keep themselves, their children and dogs safe.”

It is the not the first time a sink hole has appeared in the area. Two years ago, firefighters were called to the area to rescue a dog which had fallen down a sinkhole.