From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
Undercliffs - Axmouth to Lyme Regis

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Undercliff - Axmouth to Lyme Regis is located in Devon and Dorset. It is a nature reserve and a 5 mile walk between Axmouth in Seaton and Lyme Regis.

The undercliffs are a result of landslips, which have created a natural nature reserve for plants and birds. The South West Coast Path runs through the nature reserve and can only be accessed from either end. It is not permitted to leave the path or access the sea due to the nature reserve status and the dangerous terrain.

The landslips have long been recorded, slips in 1775, 1828, 1839 and 1840 have stood out by being particully large. The Great Slip in 1839 was very well documented as geologists Buckland and Conybeare were in the area so they could survey it. A large tract of land below Bindon Manor and Dowlands Farm had slipped, creating the features now called Goat Island and the Chasm. It took with it an area of sown wheatfield which remained sufficiently undamaged for the wheat to be harvested in 1840, when the slip was a popular visitor attraction.

The Undercliff was formerly open rough pasture, grazed by sheep and rabbits, including features such as Donkey Green, an area of turf used for picnics and sport, Landslip Cottage, which used to sell teas to visitors, and Chapel Rock. It become heavily overgrown in the 20th century following the cessation of sheep farming and the decline in rabbits due tomyxomatosis.

Sabine Baring-Gould's 1900 novel 'Winefred, a story of the chalk cliffs' is set in the Undercliff area, with the Great Slip as its climax. The Undercliff was also one of the settings for the novel 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' and a location for its film adaptation.