The Geography Department


The Bawdsey Flags    March 9 2005


March 9 2005  First contact

May 14  2005  Site meeting

May 31  2005  Update


June 21 2005  Expedition to cut weeds

June 28 2005  Job Done!


July 30 2005   - two flags gone and another going!


March 2006 update

July 2006 update


September 2006 update


February 2007 - a new beach!

September 2007 update


June 28 2005  Shingle Street

July 30 2005   Shingle Street


Flags site


Ian Murray's photos


Location : East Lane, Bawdsey



The  seaward end if East Lane from atop the old gun battery, looking back towards the village.


Image produced from the Ordnance Survey

Get-a-map service.

Image reproduced with kind permission of

Ordnance Survey

and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.


A pile of rip-rap awaits use  next to the car park in East Lane.

800-P1010606.JPG  123KB





800-P1010607.JPG  207KB


From the gun emplacement the Martello tower can be seen to the south - across an eroding embayment.


From East Lane a private road leads to the houses. Here is a view to the north across the marshy land.


The coastal footpath has been diverted inland at this point, although the route is still passable through the clinging clay!

800-P1010564.JPG  99KB

800-P1010605.JPG  221KB

800-P1010565.JPG  119KB




The neighbours





A pair of conventional houses occupy the Bawdsey site, one a colourful construction faced with galvanised steel ..


... and painted in these striking colours.



The Martello tower was undergoing building work on my visit. The flag camera is on the right side of the tower.

800-P1010604.JPG  148KB

800-P1010603.JPG  110KB

800-P1010602.JPG  143KB




The Flags





Some general views of the flags, looking back towards the tower. The colourful house outshines the flags for colour! The pink flag on the left photo had been replaced in the falling cliff (gouge marks) by person or persons unknown.

800-P1010597.JPG  128KB

800-P1010595.JPG  67KB




800-P1010594.JPG  93KB



A colourful trio of photographs, looking back towards the Martello tower. The embayment beneath the array of flags has been actively eroded, losing its shingle beach, and the slumped material, to the sea.

800-P1010589.JPG  139KB

800-P1010590.JPG  121KB




800-P1010600.JPG  178KB



Some cliff is breaking away in the foreground.


These are the flags I picked up and left with the display.


The false flag, looking over the new bay.

600-P1010599.JPG  186KB





600-P1010598.JPG  201KB



The cliff-top path has been rapidly removed, and now a diversion takes the official walker far inland for a kilometre or so.


A pillbox on the beach; it has been inverted during its fall down the cliff.


A close-up of the rotational slump.

600-P1010592.JPG  177KB

800-P1010591.JPG  209KB




600-P1010593.JPG  234KB



As Max Boyce would say 'I was there!' On the left carrying back three flags thrown up from the beach, and on the right chatting to some local walkers.









The flags from the beach, which has a raised platform of shingle towards the south, that disappears nearer the Martello Tower. Fresh falls of the cliffs are in evidence.

800-P1010549.JPG  169KB

800-P1010552.JPG  77KB




800-P1010554.JPG  176KB



Since the web cam has been operating the beach beneath the flags has been lost; this is the remnant of that beach.


The clay basement is resisting erosion more effectively than the Red Crag/clay lenses above.


Cliff falls have been continuous and have overlain the remaining small area of shingle beach next to the flags.

800-P1010550.JPG  240KB

800-P1010559.JPG  193KB




800-P1010558.JPG  240KB


800-P1010542.JPG  89KB




800-P1010540.JPG  137KB


At this point, near the relict groyne, the actively-eroding cliff gives way to the shingle beach.


Broken beach defences extend as far as the Martello tower.







The beach has been eroded exposing  its clay base. Quite often, certainly at Walton-on-the-Naze, this surface has not been particularly slippery ... here it is!


Looking to the sea, and the routes to and from Felixstowe. The swell has been from the north-east for some days.


The sea sweeping in over the clay at Bawdsey.

800-P1010539.JPG  157KB


800-P1010538.JPG  102KB




800-P1010541.JPG  127KB


The shingle Beach




Taken in the snows, from the top of the very steep upper beach towards the north.


A wider shot, showing the fossil cliffs and present beach system.


A line of concreted stanchions line the lower beach, isolated and abandoned.

800-P1010533.JPG  345KB


800-P1010532.JPG  117KB




800-P1010543.JPG  140KB


An overview of the beach profile and fossil cliffs.


The beach is being lowered into a consolidated shingle/sand basement. The erosion can just be seen as a small (2cm) mini cliff.


A similar view of beach deposits to the south.

800-P1010535.JPG  126KB

800-P1010575.JPG  364KB




800-P1010572.JPG  179KB

800-P1010578.JPG  127KB


The beach to the south of the flags is one of shingle, piled steeply against the shore.


800-P1010534.JPG  108KB






May 14  2005





The walk from the  car park to the Martello Tower is now off-limits; the footpath is closed. However, in dry conditions it does afford good views of the recently-installed rip-rap, geotextile sheeting and clay veneer! The sea was at nearly high tide, but only one of medium height, but with a stiff north-easterly behind it!

800-P1020090.JPG  106KB

800-P1020088.JPG  140KB




800-P1020089.JPG  138KB

800-P1020092.JPG  174KB


The view back to the north, the observation tower beyond a few pieces of rip-rap left in the holding area.


800-P1020094.JPG  136KB






Ian Murray with the overnight faller - 'D' of the word 'speed'

800-P1020104.JPG  128KB







Nothing to do with 'The da Vinci Code' perhaps ... but this 'Sion' is about to be dis-solved .. into the sea!


The yellow flag 'R' is very near the edge!


The footpath is being lost near the growing crops; the erosion appearing more active even than near the tower.

600-P1020091.JPG  231KB

600-P1020098.JPG  202KB




600-P1020101.JPG  188KB


The remaining lines of flags, with particular reference as to how near the cliff edge last flag in each group is!

800-P1020095.JPG  187KB

800-P1020096.JPG  175KB




800-P1020097.JPG  183KB

Two photographs taken of the shingle beach, at the point where the line of the coast taken a more southerly route. The erosion of the foreground contrasts with the generous deposits beyond, held at a sharp angle. The shingle conceals a damp and clinging clay .. tested twice!

800-P1020105.JPG  200KB


800-P1020106.JPG  221KB







Ian balancing to take a photo of the foreshore, as the tide swirled around him. I, naturally, attracted the local freak wave and got wet! The pillbox pays witness to the energy of the sea that day.

800-P1020107.JPG  128KB

800-P1020108.JPG  122KB


800-P1020102.JPG  163KB

A reference shot before leaving the flags.

800-P1020100.JPG  80KB




Update 31 May 2005





800-P1020229.JPG  173KB


800-P1020231.JPG  95KB



800-P1020230.JPG  227KB

The Bawdsey Flags under assault. With tides up to 4 metres the erosion is almost unrelenting, and red 'S' (above right) has some cliff with cracks running down a metre!


Further down the stretch, the path by the side of the barley is heading for complete destruction.


800-P1020236.JPG  201KB



800-P1020238.JPG  173KB