A MAJOR rockfall involving 20 tons of cliff face at Symonds Yat Rock has led to the closure of a public right of way 'for the foreseeable future'
Forestry England said the rockfall happened earlier this month and could have caused 'significant' damage but for a rock capture fence stopping it from hurtling further below.
Climbers have since been warned to avoid using the area, alongside walkers.
A spokesperson added: "We have also had to close the public right of way leading down from Symonds Yat Rock to the River Wye.
"We immediately sought professional ground engineering and geotechnical advice from a private consultancy firm.
"The consultant inspected the rockfall site and further parts of Symonds Yat Rock.
"As a result of this advice, we will be keeping the climbing and public right of way closures in place for the foreseeable future.
"This is to reduce the risk as much as possible."
The spokesperson added: "An estimated 20 tonnes of rock fell from the cliff face, and had it not been for the rock capture fence, the damage below could have been significant.
"The fence is in place for incidents like this, but the size of the fall was large enough to severely damage the fence."
At present, it appears that only a single area has been affected.
But preliminary advice shows there may be further areas of concern across the entire rockface, preventing the reopening of other climbing routes away from the location of the rock fall.
"At the moment, we don’t know whether another rockfall will happen somewhere else along the cliff face – and without a fence in place, we can't take this risk," added the FE.
"Our next steps will be to carry out a full survey/assessment of the whole of the cliff face, and to get the fence repaired or replaced.
"We will also look at further rockface maintenance strategies.
"For the safety of climbers and to avoid any manmade disturbance to the rockface which may cause harm to people and properties below, we cannot allow climbing to take place anywhere in the area until the above has taken place.
"We will keep you updated as soon as we know more and when expected timescales become clearer.
"In the meantime, we thank you for your continued patience and cooperation."