The Zig Zag Path

As you may know, Christchurch Borough Council is reluctant to rebuild the zig zag path, making it difficult or even impossible for frail people, people with young children or buggies, the disabled or anyone who does not fancy going up and down more than a hundred steep steps, to access the beach from the Castle. I admit that I feel it should be rebuilt, even though it is expensive, as the nationally-recognised blue-flagged beach and the Castle are major tourist attractions in the area. We have reserves, and surely this is a ‘rainy day’ which they were meant for. Otherwise, what is the point of having them?

The slideshow below shows the situation, with the path and with the steep steps. Notice the helpful sign in the second slide showing the way up this prohibited path! The white sign says the following:



The ZIGZAG PATH at Highcliffe Castle is to remain CLOSED

Why has the zigzag path been closed?
Having been monitored for over a year, the path was closed for public safety in March 2017 as surveys showed a failure of the retaining timber and there is a continuing significant risk to public safety.

How can I get to Highcliffe Castle while the zigzag is closed?
There are steps from the beach up to the grounds of Highcliffe Castle approximately 250 metres to the West of the zigzag.
There is no sloped access directly up Highcliffe Castle [sic]. There is a sloped access from the beach at Friars Cliff where it is possible to walk through the grounds of Steamer Point Nature Reserve to the Castle. Sloped access is also available at Highcliffe Beach but there is no cliff top access through to Highcliffe Castle.

Thank you for your patience while
we carry out this essential work


Below is what is happening and how you may be able to help. There is space for comments, and an informal poll at the end.


Zig zag update, and famous stickers! An Echo quote from their article to tempt you:

… the campaign to reopen the walkway from Highcliffe Castle to the seafront has continued to build with the production of several zig zag car sticker and badge designs.

Stewarts Garden Centres has given financial support to create the items, which have already travelled as far as Cairo and New York.

WEDNESDAY 8 November

New zig zag proposal – All we want is a ramp, not a palace: Echo report



Echo report about yesterday’s meeting


After the Council meeting yesterday, some good news.Nigel Brooks has posted in NextDoor, Highcliffe, the comment below.

Highcliffe Castle Zig-Zag path – BREAKING NEWS

AT LAST **********SUCCESS*********** the Council voted this evening, Tuesday 31 October (by 13 votes to 6) to rescind its previous decision to close the zig-zag completely and, instead, they agreed to fully investigate alternative ways to proceed and then seek tenders for the work. That’s a really positive step forward and we’ll continue to do everything we can to ensure that the Path does get rebuilt. It may not happen overnight but … watch this space. If you’re at a loose end on Friday morning 3 November (say, around 10.30am) and would like to meet some of our team of 5 ‘retired professionals’ and perhaps have a look at the two documents we prepared for Councillors ahead of tonight’s meeting, then do please pop round to the Highcliffe Castle, Castle Kitchen. If you have been actively involved in the campaign, by way of a ‘Thank you for your support’ Bob Hutchings and Nigel Brooks would love to buy you a nice hot cup of something.


Echo article about the proposal below – is it a viable solution?


As you probably know, after Christchurch Council resolved to close the Zigzag path we set up a group (consisting of 5 retired professionals with the following skills: Civil Engineering, Construction, Geology, Surveying and Finance) to fight the decision. We have been working hard since that diabolic resolution was passed on 9 August. We’ve met several times for discussions with Council Officers and with various construction firms.

We’ve put together a viable, affordable scheme to rebuild the path and that scheme will be shared with all Councillors ahead of their meeting next Tuesday. Our plan has been to show unequivocally that the cost reported to the Committee on 9 August was very significantly overstated. Moreover, we’re showing that a good quality path (with an estimated life of 60 years) can be built within the Council’s approved budget.

We will be able to share our plans shortly after they have been presented to Councillors.

So, what do we want now? We need your support at the Full Council Meeting at 6.00pm on 31 October at the Civic Offices. It is vitally important for the Council to see that people do care about the path; the more people they see at their council meeting the better. We have no active part to play at the Full Council Meeting – other than simply being there – the Council will debate a Motion (see below) calling for the previous decision to be rescinded and for further consideration to be given by the Full Council to rebuild the path. It’s the most important stage yet. Please be there if you possibly can.

Thank you.

The Motion states –

• That no action be taken in respect of this resolution (Community Committee decision on 9 August) and no works are commenced to decommission the Zig-Zag path.
• That the decision be reconsidered by full council taking account of:
1. The Coastal Strategy Public Consultation
2. Further funding options explored
3. Alternative design and build tenders being sought and received
4. The full cost of retaining a similar on gradient path to the beach in this location be known

Nigel Brooks MBA MRICS Chartered Surveyor


Echo article, with suggestions from the Residents’ Association.

and presentation of a petition from Highcliffe residents

From Nigel Brooks, Highcliffe, circulated on NextDoor:

‘The Petition, with 3,000+ signatures, objecting to the decision not to rebuild the path, will be presented to Christchurch Council, Civic Centre, Bridge Street. Please come along to show your support, from 5.35pm for a press ‘photo call’ and Full Council meeting from 6.00pm. Thank you for your support!’

Christchurch BC – Information about the meeting


A message from Gwynne James, circulated on NextDoor:

‘I simply could not believe this utterly stupid decision but then remembered that we are dealing with Christchurch Council where the requirement is to hand your common sense in before making a decision!

This morning my wife and I witnessed families trying to negotiate the very steep wooden steps from the Castle down onto the beach with push chairs, children and beach stuff – it was almost impossible – and dangerous.

All it wants is for someone to be injured trying to negotiate these steps and sue the Council to make the estimated bill for the zig zag seem quite reasonable!

With the zig zag out of action the Castle is all but cut off from the beach and the loss in potential earnings must be huge. The loss of the zig zag also throws up the very important issue of wheel chair access etc which, by law, the Council must seriously consider.

I’m pretty confident that the idiots responsible for this decision will have to reconsider their decision very quickly.’


19 AUGUST: We’re not happy – residents to protest

16 AUGUST: Beach defence plans – and the path

10 AUGUST: BBC News – Highcliffe cliff path rebuild axed over costs

8 AUGUST: Council priorities

5 AUGUST: Don’t use zig zag

5 SEPTEMBER: Echo article about the path, and the meeting tonight.
Interesting comments at the end

5 SEPTEMBER: Item on BBC South Today, TV news:

Local Councillor Mrs Derham-Wilkes appeared at the end, just after the interviewer and a very tired-looking dog had struggled up the 117 steps. For copyright reasons I cannot publish the clip, but this is exactly what she said:

I know a lot of people will be affected by it, but I’m afraid sometimes in life you have to take the tough decisions and make them and on this occasion this is what we felt we had to do. (Interviewer: And there’s no possibility of a U-turn?) Reply, half-smiling: There won’t be a U-turn. No. The decision’s been made. It’s concluded.

9 SEPTEMBER: Echo report about the petition and some Councillors’ response

15 SEPTEMBER: Surprising – even shocking! – Echo article about the path

3 OCTOBER: Echo article – there could be land mines under or near the path!

Should the Zig Zag Path be reconstructed?

3 thoughts on “The Zig Zag Path

  1. Your comments reflect those of just about every Highcliffe resident!
    It is beyond comprehension that CC have taken the decision to close the lovely Zig Zag path-it makes no sense what ever way you examine this ridiculous decision.
    Millions has been spent -and continues to be-on improving Highcliffe Castle and the Wedding venue was a major earner with the Zig Zag being the favourite location for post wedding shots!
    I’m quietly confident that a lot of ‘arm twisting’ is going on behind the scenes to try and reverse this utterly stupid decision!
    The problem is that having suffered major embarresment over the failed Beach Hut fiasco can CC afford to lose more face and reverse their stupid decision!

  2. For the last 25 years I have regularly travelled from North Hampshire and now South Hampshire to this zig zag path. It is a gem along this coastline and I have regularly taken friends and family to this path. When there, we have spent money in local cafe bars and pubs. As there have often been less mobile members in the party this used to be first on the list for a day out. However since it has closed, I have stopped visiting this coastline since I suffer with arthritis myself. Such a shame as I am sure in the longer term it will reduce tourists and resident visitors to the area and unfairly targets the less mobile in the population

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *