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In the town, the walk follows a raised footpath above the stream. This path is known as the Lynch. On one side, less than a metre below the path, is the fast flowing water of an old leat that once fed the Town Mill. On the other is an unprotected drop of about 4 metres to the stream bed. It is unusual to encounter a fall from height risk such as this in an urban area, unless there are significant historic factors to take into consideration - such as at York City Walls or Berwick Ramparts. There may be similar reasons here, but they are less apparent. From one direction of approach, the hazard is reasonably obvious; from the other, not at all so. Conventionally, the land owner/manager is in a less vulnerable position if he/she has considered the risk and benefits, and recorded the rationale for the lack of edge protection in such a situation, assuming edge protection is neither reasonable nor practicable nor considered necessary given the extent of the risk. An image exists on the web of virtually the same location in 1892, with the drop equally unprotected [for copyright reasons, it cannot be shown here, but you can see it if you wish at www.francisfrith.com/lyme-regis/photos/the-lynch-1892_31311/. It seems reasonable to assume that there has been little or no accident history over the years.

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Further on at the western end of the harbour, beyond the amusement halls, fish and chip shops and National Trust retail emporium is the harbour wall of the Cobb, famous in cinematic circles for Meryl Streep's enigmatic performance in The French Lieutenant's Woman, and famous in legal and safety practitioner circles for the decided case of Staples v West Dorset District Council. A summary of the case can be found in the legal chapter of the VSCG publication - "Managing Visitor Safety in the Countryside" - and is quoted here with acknowledgement:
"A visitor to the Cobb, an historic harbour wall at Lyme Regis, slipped and fell off the wall, sustaining injury. The weather was fine but a strong wind and spray were affecting its surface. His original claim was upheld, the judge finding that the Council was at fault for failing to erect a warning sign to tell users of the particular danger of the surface being slippery. The Court of Appeal overturned this judgement, concluding that the risk of the wall being slippery when wet was so obvious that that no duty existed. They also concluded that even if a warning sign had been in place it was unlikely that the claimant would have acted differently. A warning sign was not therefore necessary." [Staples v West Dorset District Council, Court of Appeal, 5 April 1995 PIQR P439].

The photos below are from a previous visit to the Cobb in 2007, and show that despite the court judgement, warning signs were in place at that time.

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