The Geography Department



Hengistbury Head and Barton-on-Sea


Hengistbury Head - along the beach and back over the cliffs - October 2001


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Gabions and stone groyne near the Double Dykes.


SW force 6, neap high tide is reaching the foot of the cliffs.


Looking W to Bournemouth.


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The highest part of the cliff. Ironstones are the last material to be removed after slides.


Sub-aerial erosion is important - as is trampling!


The Long Groyne on the old civil boundary.  A dune habitat has been created.

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Fencing protects the marram grass.



The cliff is lower at this end, rain-wash is important where there is bare ground.


A pile of spare beach seeding material?  Good contrast in wave energy as the coast direction changes, even so, there is beach starvation.

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Christchurch spit.  Major change both from the SW facing beach, and between harbour and exposed beach.


The harbour is a very low energy environment, even in this gale force wind.  The large channels are man-made.


The spit has a seeded beach.  Each compartment shows refraction.

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Hengistbury Head - along the beach and back over the cliffs - October 2001




Looking back to Bournemouth from the Double Dykes1


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General view of Hengistbury Head.  Some levels are natural, others due to quarrying.  The beach is 2m. below the gabion top.


Gabion defences and stone groyne.




Gabion defences, a stone groyne, and Bournemouth in the background - looking west.












Wave energy is high on this coast. A rock groyne at the western end of Hengistbury Head.



Impressive differential erosion of the various sands and clays.  Rain-wash is obviously important in the long term if the cliff itself does not fall.


Pebbly, poorly cemented strata offer little resistance to wave attack.  The lowest layer is pure sand.









Gullying and debris fans.  There is a small storm beach.



Debris fans overlap beneath the free face of the high cliffs.




Gullying on a fairly recent fall.  There had been heavy rain several times in the last few days, resulting in a fine sediment fan on the beach.

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Ironstones, and a clear view of the cliff profile.


A variety of sediments.



Detail of the differential erosion.


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Sediment stores at the Long Groyne.  The lack of beach after the groyne is very marked.



Groyne 61, usually known as the Long Groyne, marks the old Bournemouth boundary.



The east end of Hengistbury Head, groynes and beach seeding.  Bits of red concrete from the old promenade round the point can be found under the rocks near the cliff foot.

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The groyne itself has been further protected.



Long Groyne and east end of Hengistbury Head.


Debris dams across a major gully, once the footpath to the beach.

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The view of the spit from the cliff-top path.



The layout of the huts has not changed much.




The spit from a 1960s postcard.  The concrete from the old promenade is just visible, bottom right, and there is less vegetation.

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The human occupation of the spit is a narrow line between beach and saltmarsh.


A view of the groyne defences and the sediment cells they contain.


The Barn Centre, cafe and car park - this lowland is threatened by erosion, which will cut off the headland.

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Barton-on-Sea. Rip rap  and rock groynes from the undercliff road.


Barton-on-Sea. Graded slopes - and rock soakaways for cliff drainage.


Barton-on-Sea.  SW facing again, force 6 wind and a sea running on the rock groyne.

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The parade of cliff-top shops. there has been some stabilisation, as seen here by the vegetation, but an active free face remains behind the properties.


Access at the mid-cliff level.




Totally engineered cliff.



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A view from the car park to the cliff-top shops in Barton. The gash is not a recent gully, but beach access. Railing in the foreground have divided the car park off, with the seaward side now considered too unsafe to use.


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Hengistbury Head website