On their journey around the coast of the United Kingdom, the team look at the secret life of the sea and how it shapes our cliffs.
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This is Coast.
Our stunning sea cliffs.
An imperious borderline stitched with a rainbow tapestry of stone.
Deceptive and dramatic.
Yielding and treacherous.
Over millennia, we've learnt to negotiate this tricky terrain.
And carve surprising uses from its rocky skeleton.
My quest has brought me to the Isle of Wight.
I'm on a mission to delve into the hidden world of our
sea cliffs and I'm going to start with this key.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE THEME PLAYS
Over a century ago, the locals unlocked a secret.
This solid sea cliff had a helpfully soft core.
Behind this grill is a disused lift shaft, a man-made hole,
bored straight into the cliff.
I'm going to extreme lengths,
investigating mysteries at the heart of our sea cliffs.
Our island's edge, as you've never seen it before.
This is The Secret Life Of Sea Cliffs.
My journey will take me across the vast and varied cliffs of Yorkshire.
But first, I need to free myself from the depths of the Isle of Wight.
Here, the sea has bitten chunks out of the headland.
If nature could carve through the chalk, why not man?
I've walked across cliffs, I've climbed up cliffs,
but I've never abseiled through a cliff.
It's completely otherworldly.
In the late 19th century, the government had the cliff's centre
scooped out, part of a secret defence plan.
This looks like a... a spur tunnel, this.
It's got a very high roof and it's full of debris.
This one looks like the main one.
These tunnels have lain untouched for decades.
But clues to their use of still remain.
Old electrical cables, carried in this rusting steel pipe.
There's a gigantic, rusting engine.
This must have been used to power the lift.
A window ahead sheds some light.
LAUGHING: Look at this!
What could be more secure than a fortress built into a cliff face?
We're scratching at the surface of our
sea cliffs to expose their secrets.
I've made my way to North Yorkshire,
but my precise location must remain under wraps.
Here on the Yorkshire coast, there's a small group of locals
who keep their clifftop activities rather secret.
This precipitous spot is famous for its clifftop walks.
The steep slopes keep many from the beach below. But not everyone.
Nothing comes between a Yorkshireman and his fish.
Only a select few know how to reach the real fishing hot spots.
At the bottom of these cliffs lies the area's best fishing ground.
And with some resourceful DIY, Glenn and Mike have
constructed an interesting route to the pleasure pools below.
So, how long have you been coming down here?
I would think I've been coming roughly 20 years now.
We know it really well.
So, is that white thing what you slide down on? What's that made of?
This is a fireman's hose. LAUGHTER
This is unbelievable.
It's an incredibly long way down.
I had no idea fishermen did this kind of thing.
It's quite scary, the first few times.
You do seem to get used to it, the more you come.
At the bottom, you find the perfect boys' getaway.
But this beach doesn't give up its fishing secrets easily.
Hidden from view, under the sea,
a deep channel lies unseen below these waves.
A gully, carved into the seabed,
which funnels fish right up to the shore.
What you've got here is a lot deeper water in here and the fish
roam up and down, looking for food.
So, really, this is about gully fishing, rather than open sea?
Gullies are the natural place for bait to rest, come to rest.
The fish know that, you see.
But why is this fish-friendly gully under these cliffs
in the first place?
I think one of the main reasons why the gully fishes so well is
the fact that it was actually deepened by man through industry.
You see the tunnels here? Oh, right, yeah.
Workers tunnelling into the cliffs also carved the underwater
channel where the fish gather.
In the 18th century, they quarried valuable minerals from the
cliff edge, but without a natural harbour, they needed to gouge
deep clefts into the sea floor to berth their trading boats.
The boats may be gone,
but their berths are a happy fishing ground for those in the know.
And local industry brings other benefits.
We've sort of had a helping hand with another mining industry.
They're actually underneath us now, mining away for potash
and they have an outlet pipe, which is about a mile out to sea.
And all the slurry and stuff that comes out of there is mixed
in with the water and it colours the water,
which is really good for fishing.
Oh! Why do the fish like cloudy water?
I think they've got more confidence to come inshore, you know,
looking for bait and what have you. Especially during the daylight.
So without the hand of man, there wouldn't be good fishing here?
It's a combination... I think there will always be fish there,
but it's been better, a lot better since that happened.
Yeah. Yeah, without a doubt.
And how long might you just stand here like this,
waiting for something to happen?
If there's fish in the gully, they're at it straightaway. Oh, really?
Yeah, yeah. Fast. Yeah. Oh, he's got a fish, yeah. Whoa!
He's got a fish, yeah. Pouting.
Pouting? I haven't seen a pouting before.
Scaling the sea cliffs is all part of the sport.
Now, I want to meet the man behind the madness.
A man known as "Big Cliff" pioneered the route down to this secret world.
He's a local legend. And he's agreed to meet me, just up here.
Now nearly 70, Big Cliff cannily conserves his climbing energy.
Hi, good to meet you.
So, is it true you put the fire hose there?
What I did, I got a couple of anchorages and a 14-pound hammer,
burned them in and this lad from Scarborough,
who's a fireman, he put the hosepipe on the anchorages
and then people have added to the thing over the years.
And we got what we've got today, you know? Is your name really Big Cliff?
Oh, no. I like my cliff fishing though.
I used to end up on a big cliff, fishing off the top.
So when I thought of a name for myself, I thought,
"Oh, Big Cliff", you know? But my real name's Alan.
Why do you find this coast so special?
Well, I think, you're so, like, off the beaten track.
You've got to put yourself out a little bit to be able to come here.
It's the sort of place that an awful lot of people never ever see.
They just go zooming past in their cars on the way to different places.
Do you find it hard to come down here now?
It's not the getting down, Nick, it's the getting back up!
Scaling our coastal cliffs can test brains as well as brawn.
There's more than one way to rise to the top.
One final uplifting experience awaits me
here at Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
This Victorian seaside resort is sitting pretty on the cliff edge.
And it's the spectacular cliff lift that's the secret of the town's success.
This glorious invention allows holiday-makers to reach the beach.
The two carriages might look independent,
but they're ingeniously linked on a pulley system.
As one falls, its twin rises.
I'm meeting Paul Wakeford to get the full lowdown.
Hello, there. Hello! Mind if I have a snoop?
What an incredible engine room. It is. How does it work?
Well, these trams weigh the same as each other,
and I just fill one with water and it gets heavy,
and down it goes, pulls the other one up.
Close the doors...
..turn the tap on, start filling it.
How do you know when it's going to be heavy enough? There you go.
Oh, I see! It's now heavy enough with water.
It goes off on its own! Yes.
Down she goes. The sheer weight of it.
Gravity's making it work.
It can be people.
If you had 12 people going down and no-one coming up,
you wouldn't need water.
The tram, when it gets to the bottom,
will empty all the water out automatically.
But now the water's down the bottom? Yes.
It collects in a tank at the bottom.
And then we set a pump going, that's the only power needed,
is to pump the water from the bottom tank back up to our top tank.
What do you call it? They're not carriages, are they?
What do you call them? It's a funicular tramway.
And it's "funicular". Not "funny-colour". Funicular!
Thank you very much!
Originally, the Victorians would career down the cliff
in 33 seconds, a white-knuckle ride.
Today, for health safety reasons,
it's a much more leisurely 55-second journey.
While the lift did the hard work,
the visitors could relax and take in the view,
until they were deposited safely beside the seaside.
Hello there. Thank you.
As I reach the end of my journey,
perhaps I've arrived at the best secret of all.
How we've managed to surmount the challenges presented
by our sea cliffs.
Coming up with solutions to coastal conundrums
has created some of our most exciting environments.
Cliffs might look like dead ends, but then when we think outside the box,
where the edge of land is steepest,
we're really tested.
On our sea cliffs, a secret and surprising world awaits.