The cliffs at Thurstaston are a thing of great beauty. Made of eroding boulder clay, they are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and cannot be protected from erosion – it is the erosion that is important to their status. But the erosion is now proceeding faster than we’ve ever seen because of the extremely heavy rainfall that’s been happening much of the time since last Summer.
If you love Thurstaston cliffs and haven’t seen them for a while, I’d recommend you come for a visit fairly soon, or you might not recognise the cliffs as you remember them.
The yellow colour of the cliffs used to make me think they were sandstone. But I was wrong. And the boulder clay they are made of has got so wet now that they’ve all changed colour. These are photos from walking on the Shining Shore today, Saturday 12th January.
These being rocks transported to Wirral from Scotland and the Lake District underneath glaciers during the last Ice Age, ending between 12,000 and 14,000 years ago. (Much more about the geology of here can be learned from ‘A History of Wirral’ by Stephen J. Roberts, a reader of this blog, which I’ve just borrowed from the library.)
And I get that the cliffs are naturally eroding. The tide reaches them most days after all. But this rate of collapse is extraordinary and is explained by the amount of water the hillside is attempting to hold. The whole of our walk today would have to be described as ‘squelchy’ – and that’s been true of all the walks we’ve done here since last Spring. The weather has changed radically, and the rapid collapse of the cliffs would seem to be one result.
So if you love them, come and see them soon. We can’t save them, we can only bear witness.
And not everything has changed.