Warning over potentially deadly selfie trend at cliffs near Marsden Rock after visitors climb wall at cliffs

A photo is not worth your life – that’s the warning after a number of people were spotted climbing over a wall at a cliff edge to take selfies.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 6:00 am

Will Smith, manager of The Grotto at Marsden, said he has had to speak to people on three separate occasions in recent weeks after he saw them climbing over the wall in the car park to take photos on the cliff edge.

Will, who has worked at the popular seafront venue for four years, said: “In the past couple of weeks since we have reopened I have seen people over the wall three times.

"The worst one was at the weekend when a family of four, or two couples, were over the edge taking photos. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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The Grotto manager Will Smith, who has safety concerns with people getting close to the cliff edge to take selfies.
The Grotto manager Will Smith, who has safety concerns with people getting close to the cliff edge to take selfies.

"It is just bizarre. A photo is not worth your life. People need to use a bit more common sense.

"Everyone knows how dangerous the cliffs are – it is not worth it for a picture at the end of the day.

"It is a sheer drop and the cliffs are very loose.

"There could be a serious accident. It’s just stupidity.”

The Grotto at Marsden

Warning signs are in place along the clifftop barriers, but now Will is in talks to put up additional signs in The Grotto car park to further highlight the danger following the recent incidents.

The Grotto also took to Facebook to urge people to not put themselves in danger, saying: “This is obviously extremely dangerous.

"I’m sure your Instagram followers would rather see more pictures of you rather than the final one!”

Tom Fennelly, Honorary Secretary of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, condemned the ‘selfish’ and ‘irresponsible’ actions of those climbing over the walls and barriers along the cliff tops, saying it puts not only their lives at risk but also those of the emergency services who may be called out to help.

The Grotto manager Will Smith

Tom said: "The cliff tops are very fragile and people deliberately climbing over the wall are putting themselves and others who may be called to their assistance – particularly the emergency services – at risk.

“We have already had a number of fatalities along the cliffs this year.

"There is plenty of evidence for people to understand that it is simply not that people are putting themselves and other people at risk.

"I can’t emphasise strongly enough the absolute stupidity of people stepping deliberately over the barriers which mark the end of the safe area.

"Anyone who ignores that is being extremely stupid and should think twice – what photo is worth a life?”

Coastal erosion along the clifftops in South Tyneside has also been an ongoing issue and recently plans have been submitted to move the A183 Coast Road, which cuts through The Leas between South Shields and Whitburn, away from crumbling cliffs to give it a longer lifespan.

Emergency services, Northumbria Police launched a joint operation with the Coastguard to ensure the area was safe following the incident.

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