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The Secret Life of Sea Cliffs

Coast, Series 8 Episode 5 of 6

Nick Crane explores some of the most spectacular and scary sea cliffs in Britain. He embarks on an elevated journey to take in the high spots of the Yorkshire coastline.

Nick is granted unique access to join secretive sea fishermen who have constructed a remarkable ropeway to make the perilous descent to fishing grounds at the foot of sheer sea cliffs. Why do these plucky Yorkshiremen go to such lengths to seek out this remote shoreline haven for anglers?

Nick also explores the ingenious water-powered mechanism that operates the Victorian cliff lift at Saltburn-by-the-Sea. How did this innovative railway, running down sheer slopes to the sands, save the newly founded resort from ruin?

Yorkshire's cliffs are crumbling faster than anywhere else in Britain, with over a metre lost every year. So Nick is surprised to meet a man building a new house close to the cliff top, despite his last home there being condemned. What is the appeal of life on the edge?

Tessa Dunlop meets a remarkable woman who witnessed a top-secret American 'invasion' of the English south coast during the Second World War. The US Rangers scaling the cliffs at Burton Bradstock were practising for their D-Day assault on similar terrain in Normandy, a battle that would see half of the Rangers killed or wounded.

On the magnificent sea cliffs that surround Ramsey Island, biologist Sarah Beynon hunts for the superheroes of the insect world who do the island's dirty work, the dung beetles. Sarah knows these fascinating and beautiful creatures are critical to the success of the island's most famous wildlife residents, the choughs. These rare birds feed off the surprisingly numerous dung beetles. Sarah's researching why the beetles thrive on Ramsey's cliffs, and how they help create a precious ecosystem that is highly unusual in Britain.

Archaeologist Cassie Newland is an expert in excavating modern history. Cassie rummages through the extraordinary rubbish of ordinary people from the recent past. This fascinating 20th century trash is being gradually revealed as a clifftop dump at Lyme Regis slides into the sea. Sarah examines tip-top artefacts of everyday life from the last hundred years. She also meets the son of one of the unique 'Bowler-Hatted Bin Men' of Lyme Regis. Why did they do their dirty work dressed for high society?

Ex-soldier and adventurer Andy Torbet takes part in a daring night-time exercise with commando recruits. To earn the coveted green beret a commando must successfully complete a terrifying cliff assault, clambering up sheer slopes in pitch darkness to launch a stealth attack on the enemy. What are the special climbing skills required to join this elite unit with a fearsome reputation for excellence and courage under fire?

Release date:

59 minutes

Last on

Tue 2 Aug 2016 13:25


Role Contributor
PresenterNicholas Crane
PresenterSarah Benyon
PresenterTessa Dunlop
PresenterAndy Torbet
PresenterCassie Newland
Series EditorSteve Evanson
Executive ProducerWilliam Lyons

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