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24 September 2014

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Bournemouth to Plymouth

Map showing Bournemouth to Plymouth
The stunning stretch of coast has attracted holidaymakers for years and is one of the most exclusive places in the world to live. It has seen some remarkable engineering feats, from battling against the sea to build a lighthouse on the Eddystone Rocks to the construction of a coastal railway.

Aerial picture of the Sandbanks peninsulaThe peninsular of Sandbanks is one of the expensive places in the world to buy a property. But how did this piece of headland get to be so exclusive?

Neil Oliver meets entrepreneur Tom Doyle and has a tour of one of Sandbanks most expensive houses on the market - a snip at £10m.

Poole Harbour
Neil Oliver standing within the harbour three quarters of a mile from landPoole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world.

Much of the harbour is incredibly shallow meaning that ferries have to negotiate specially dredged channels.

Surrounded by huge ships, Neil Oliver takes a paddle in the harbour - ¾ mile from land! And joins Harbour Commissioner, Peter Burt, who co-ordinates the traffic around the harbour.

Swanage Cliffs - Deep Water Soloing
Climber on Swanage CliffsMike Weeks provides an insight into deep water soloing, where you climb above the sea with no equipment. The rock here lends itself to an overhanging nature and the sea is deep - so it is good for deep water soloing.

It is recommended that you first learn how to climb properly with ropes and safety equipment.

Battle of the Sandcastles
Aerial picture of people on the beachWhere is the best place to build your sandcastles this summer? Alice Roberts puts three seaside locations to the test - Weymouth, Lyme Regis and Torquay.

Lyme Regis Council have imported 30,000 tonnes of sand from a quarry in Normandy. How will the French sand stand up to the other two resorts in the battle of the sandcastles.

Alice and Matthew using a cone penotrometer to test the sandBut is there more to building a sandcastle than simply using a bucket and spade. What is the perfect formula?

With the help of Matthew Bennett, Alice Roberts examines the quality of the sand by looking at the angle of internal friction (the ability of dry grains of sand to lock together) and Matthews's ideal formula of eight parts sand to one part water.

Lyme Regis - Susceptible to landslides
Picture showing landslides around the areaLyme Regis is very unstable and prone to landslides. But what causes so many landslides in this area?

Earth Scientist Richard Edmonds explains to Nicholas Crane how this areas geology, combined with the sea's erosion, causes such a problem.

The town has been built on clay and the hills are capped with porous sandstone. When it rains, the water comes down through the hills. At the junction between the rock types, it lubricates the clay surface and chunks of the cliff top slide down the surface.

Work being carried out to put the defensive scheme into  placeNicholas meets Harry May who has been living in temporary accommodation since 1962, when his home fell victim to a landslide.

But now a £24m defensive scheme is being put in place. The hills are being stabilised and gravel has been put onto the beach to help absorb the wave's energy, and add weight to the toe of the landslide.

Neil with donkeysSidmouth - Donkey sanctuary
The donkey sanctuary has nearly 400 donkeys - many are retired beach donkeys.

Neil Oliver joins Annie Hamer to find out about the largest donkey sanctuary in the world.


Dawlish - Brunels railway under threat
There are only a few coast railways left in Great Britain - but they are under threat. Their sea walls are getting undermined by the waves.

The extension of the railway along the coastIn 1843 Isambard Kingdom Brunel was commissioned to build an extension to the Great Western Railway along the south Devon coast to Plymouth. But why did he build the line here?

Due to the landscape he had two options - to build along the coast or put the route through some very long tunnels linking Dawlish to Teignmouth.

The original route was further out and exposed to the sea. But after opposition from locals he built a system of five tunnels through cliffs and a 4 mile sea wall.

The base of the wall which is prone to erosionWhen the line opened in 1847 he used a new means of propulsion - the Atmospheric system. But it was expensive to maintain and steam locomotives took over after a year.

Mark Horton travels in style on the Torbay Express Steam Train to meet railway historian Peter Kay, to find out about the troubled life of the railway along this stretch of coast.

Slapton Sands - D-Day landings
Map showing the area of 46 square miles, evacuated around  Slapton SandsIn November 1943, 3,000 residents were evacuated from the villages around Slapton Sands.

Dick Strawbridge meets one of the residents, John Hannaford, who was a teenager at the time.

One of the biggest offensives of the Second World War was the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy.

Aerial picture showing Slapton Sands, the training area that resembled Utah BeachUtah beach was one of the main beaches to be attacked by the American forces. To provide a battle training area a similar location was needed - Slapton Sands.

The simulation of the D-Day landings was codenamed Exercise Tiger - but one particular exercise went drastically wrong.

This tank is a memorial to Exercise TigerSurvivor Steve Sadlon, a former radio operator of the US navy, gives an account of what happened.

As his craft made its way to Slapton, they were attacked by German torpedo boats. The Germans were spotted by a British fleet - but radio warnings never made it to the convoy.

The official death toll for this day, the 28th April, was 749.

Neil catches a lift in the sea tractor to get across to Burgh  IslandBurgh Island
At high tide a sea tractor takes guests across to the hotel on Burgh Island.

The hotel was built by Industrialist Archie Nettlefold in 1929.

It has had many famous visitors such as Noel Coward, Agatha Christie and Edward and Mrs Simpson.

Eddystone Lighthouse
CGI showing Henry Winstanley's design  alongside the current lighthouseDouglass's Tower has been the lighthouse on the Eddystone rocks since 1882.

What is quite remarkable is that the world's first offshore lighthouse was built here - over 300 years ago!

Ships needed to be protected from these perilous rocks.

CGI showing the ornate wrought iron detailIn 1696 Henry Winstanley set about building a lighthouse here. Three years later and after one failure he finished his masterpiece.

It was a 120 foot structure, finished with ornate engravings and extravagant wrought iron details, but was destroyed in November 1703 during the Great Storm.

CGI showing John Smeaton's design modelled on an oak treeJohn Smeatons design in 1759 became a standard for lighthouses world wide. Based on the shape of an oak tree, it was built with blocks of granite.

But cracks appeared in the rocks below and the lighthouse was taken down and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe as a tribute to its designer.


Would you like to know what music was used in this programme?

Bournemouth to Plymouth: Sunday 10 June, 8pm on BBC TWO


Coast Series 3

Shetland to Orkney

Bournemouth to Plymouth

Southport to Whitehaven (inc. the Isle of Man)

Cardiff to St David's

Berwick-upon-Tweed to Aberdeen

Galway to Baltimore

King's Lynn to Felixstowe

The Channel Islands to Dover

See Also

Meet your Coast experts:

Neil Oliver
Alice Roberts
Mark Horton
Miranda Krestovnikoff
Nicholas Crane
Hermione Cockburn
Dick Strawbridge

On the rest of the web

The Donkey Sanctuary

Tank memorial, Slapton Sands

Eddystone Lighthouse

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Tel: 0870 900 7788

for a free Open University “Discover Your Coast” pack - or visit

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external links.

Programme 3 - Southport to Whitehaven (inc the Isle of Man)

Miranda is in search of the biggest sharks in British waters. Mark sees the Royal Navy's next generation of top secret 'Attack' nuclear submarines and Alice meets a woman who as a child was in the Isle of Man's internment camps, where 'enemy aliens' in Britain were held during the Second World War.

  Map showing Southport to Whitehaven

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