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:
HIGHCLIFFE CASTLE ZIGZAG
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.
THURSDAY, 19 OCTOBER – ANOTHER SUGGESTION
Echo article, with suggestions from the Residents’ Association.
TUESDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER – FULL COUNCIL MEETING
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!’
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
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
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.
3 OCTOBER: Echo article – there could be land mines under or near the path!