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Storm Eleanor strips beach of its stones leaving it sandy

  • Storm Eleanor battered the UK earlier this week and brought 80mph winds
  • In the storm's wake, a beach at Eype, near West Bay, Dorset, has transformed
  • It was previously covered in a thick layer of stones but now has a layer of sand
  • Eleanor's power dragged the stones out to sea, leaving nothing behind but sand
  • Elsewhere, a Cornish beach was transformed when tonnes of sand were shifted

By Keiran Southern For Mailonline

Published: 06:02 EST, 5 January 2018 | Updated: 06:57 EST, 5 January 2018

Storm Eleanor has left a mysterious legacy on the seaside resort made famous by TV crime drama Broadchurch – it's made its stony beach sandy.

The 80mph winds earlier this week washed away masses of shingle that sat on top of the beach at Eype, near West Bay, Dorset.

The beach is covered in a layer of immaculate flat sand sure to entice sunbathers in the summer – if the stones do not return by then.

But while the geological phenomenon might be good news for holidaymakers and local tourism bosses, the loss of thousands of tonnes of shingle could have devastating consequences for the the 185 million-year-old fragile cliffs.

Before: The beach at Eype, near West Bay, Dorset, was previously covered in stones which offer much-needed protection for the sandstone cliffs

Before: The beach at Eype, near West Bay, Dorset, was previously covered in stones which offer much-needed protection for the sandstone cliffs

After: Now, thanks to Storm Eleanor, the beach is covered in a smooth layer of sand. But experts believe the stones could return before the summerAfter: Now, thanks to Storm Eleanor, the beach is covered in a smooth layer of sand. But experts believe the stones could return before the summer

After: Now, thanks to Storm Eleanor, the beach is covered in a smooth layer of sand. But experts believe the stones could return before the summer

The shingle offers much-needed protection for the sandstone cliffs and without it they are far more exposed to the powerful waves which could cause them to collapse.

Graham Dannan, owner of the Eype House Caravan Park, which overlooks the beach, said he was 'amazed' by the complete transformation of the beach overnight.

However, he expects the beach to return to its normal shingle state when the weather calms down.

He said: 'It's amazing how much much the beach changed overnight, I can't quite believe it.

'The beach has become sandy. During a storm waves have more energy, which drags the stones off into the sea leaving the sand which was hiding underneath. This is what has happened here.

'This creates a ridge of stones out to sea which causes the waves to start breaking further out, therefore helping with coastal erosion.

The stones were dragged out to sea by Storm Eleanor, which battered the UK with torrential rain and gusts of up to 80mphThe stones were dragged out to sea by Storm Eleanor, which battered the UK with torrential rain and gusts of up to 80mph

The stones were dragged out to sea by Storm Eleanor, which battered the UK with torrential rain and gusts of up to 80mph

During storms waves have more energy, which drags the stones off into the sea leaving the sand which was hiding underneathDuring storms waves have more energy, which drags the stones off into the sea leaving the sand which was hiding underneath

During storms waves have more energy, which drags the stones off into the sea leaving the sand which was hiding underneath

'During the calmer weather the stones are pushed back on to the beach, so this means the stones will probably be back before the summer.'

The cliffs at West Bay are prone to slip. Only last June, there was a 2,000 tonne landslide which fell on the beach, taking a chunk out of a hilltop golf course.

Mr Dannan said: 'Obviously everyone prefers relaxing on a sandy beach but the shingle actually offers protection to the cliffs from coastal erosion as they dissipate the wave energy before the water reaches the cliffs.

'We are actually quite fond of our stony beach.'

West Bay was the real life setting for the ITV drama Broadchurch, which ran for three series and starred David Tennant and Olivia Colman. The cliffs and beach featured heavily in the show.

The cliffs at West Bay are prone to slip. Only last June, there was a 2,000 tonne landslide which fell on the beach (pictured), taking a chunk out of a hilltop golf courseThe cliffs at West Bay are prone to slip. Only last June, there was a 2,000 tonne landslide which fell on the beach (pictured), taking a chunk out of a hilltop golf course

The cliffs at West Bay are prone to slip. Only last June, there was a 2,000 tonne landslide which fell on the beach (pictured), taking a chunk out of a hilltop golf course

West Bay was the real life setting for the ITV drama Broadchurch, which ran for three series and starred David Tennant and Olivia ColmanWest Bay was the real life setting for the ITV drama Broadchurch, which ran for three series and starred David Tennant and Olivia Colman

West Bay was the real life setting for the ITV drama Broadchurch, which ran for three series and starred David Tennant and Olivia Colman

But West Bay was not the only beach to be affected by Storm Eleanor.

The 80mph winds shifted millions of tonnes of sand to create a dramatic new landscape in the middle of Perranporth beach in Cornwall.

The winds combined with powerful tides brought on by a super moon left a significant mark on the Cornish coastline with 30ft sand cliffs created in some spots.

RNLI volunteers have warned the public to stay away from the unstable structures and one beach has also been closed due to safety fears.

Among the most dramatic changes is a 20ft sheer cliff drop that has been created in the middle of Perranporth beach, Cornwall.

This is the dramatic new look of Perranporth beach in Cornwall after Storm Eleanor's powerful winds shifted millions of tonnes of sandThis is the dramatic new look of Perranporth beach in Cornwall after Storm Eleanor's powerful winds shifted millions of tonnes of sand

This is the dramatic new look of Perranporth beach in Cornwall after Storm Eleanor's powerful winds shifted millions of tonnes of sand

Eleanor's incredible power transformed the look of the beach. In some spots, a 20ft cliff drop was created by the shifting sandsEleanor's incredible power transformed the look of the beach. In some spots, a 20ft cliff drop was created by the shifting sands

Eleanor's incredible power transformed the look of the beach. In some spots, a 20ft cliff drop was created by the shifting sands

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