NOT many people would survive falling down the Ness cliff at Shaldon, without being killed or seriously injured but in July 1982 a teenager did just that, and it made headlines.
Holidaymaker Adrian Wale, 17, was dubbed the luckiest man in Devon. One report declared: He plunged nearly 200 feet down the steep Ness cliff and survived.
His only injuries were minor cuts and abrasions, and today he was resuming his holiday at the Coast View Caravan site at Shaldon. with his parents.
Coastguards and police described his escape as unbelievable. Adrian, from Reading, Berkshire, is thought to be the first person to fall from the top to the bottom and still live to talk about it.
He was with friends on the headland when they spotted what they thought was a sinking boat, but later turned out to be wreckage.
Adrian went to raise the alarm and decided that the quickest way was to climb down the cliff face. He had only gone a few feet when he realised it was too steep, and started to climb back up again. Suddenly the tuft of grass he was using to pull himself up came away in his hand, and he was swiftly on his way down the cliff.
He fell vertically, scraping and bouncing his way down to the rocks below, and then falling on a startled holidaymaker who went off to call for an ambulance.
Adrian said: ‘The fall only took a few seconds and all the way down I thought I was going to die or be crippled.
‘When I reached the bottom I washed off the cuts in the sea, and that was the most painful part of it all.’
He was taken by ambulance to Torbay Hospital, where a thorough check up revealed nothing broken and no internal injuries.
Adrian was plannning to return to the scene of his great escape – to look for a watch lost in the fall. ‘ I lost my watch but kept my life, so I am not really complaining,’ he quipped.