Elements combining to crumble cliffs at Kyle

SHARE

Here, the walls of the earth are crumbling.
As the shingle and clay heart of the land is exposed by wind and rain and a surging surf, it falters and falls.
It is the east coast of the South Island at Kyle, down from Chertsey, a little-known expanse of round stones marching to an ever-rolling Pacific.
A weathered rack leads to the beach, still popular with anglers (and a few party-goers, judging by some of the debris) seeking elephant fish and shark and anything else the sea offers.
The beach is as plain as beaches can be, stony and long and featureless, but the cliff behind tells a different story.
Erosion is eating the layers, first, of topsoil, then the clay and strata of shingle and fines – and everywhere along its face, it is falling.
Here, it forms a rill, there, metres of the face has slumped to form humps on the beach, and sometimes clay-shingle lumps roll down from the top to settle, while the weather allows, on the beach.
The sea, even when flat, is endless rollers and the occasional dumper, a wave that looks innocuous but which appears to stand and then fall without moving forward. They crash and boom.
No-one swims here – or ever should.
In some places, the forces of nature, like a giant whittling tool, have carved out great trenches of cliff face, and in places topsoil hangs over the shingly base, waiting for its time to fall.