THEY have been a popular feature of Lepe Country Park for more years than many people can remember.

A group of oak trees standing near the edge of cliffs overlooking the Solent have become one of the best-known landmarks in the area.

Some of the people who love visiting the area say they represent the Lepe of their childhood.

But the trees have borne the brunt of ferocious storms over the years and have also been placed in jeopardy by the ever-increasing problem of coastal erosion.

Now they are having to be chopped down to prevent them toppling over.

A post on the Lepe Country Park Facebook page says: "We’re sad to say that the three Holm Oak Trees, which stand beside the anchor on the cliff top and frame the view over the Solent, will be felled due to a risk of them collapsing. This followed an assessment by a tree surgeon.

"The space they leave will enable us to plant other trees that will help act as windbreaks and preserve the cliff from further erosion. We will be keeping the felled wood onsite to give it plenty of new uses."

Many people have taken to social media to voice their dismay at the news that the much-loved trees are having to come down.

One woman said: "Really sad to hear this - a shame nothing was done sooner to avoid this having to happen. They are iconic and will be greatly missed."

Another added: "Will be sad to see them go.

"Only looking at them a week or two ago and thinking time was close , given the loss of cliff face. They will be missed."

The trees are near the headquarters of Solent Rescue and a glass-fronted cafe and visitor centre called The Lookout at Lepe.

Earlier this year the building received one of the 2021 Civic Trust Awards, with judges saying it provided a "beautiful, harmonious connection between land and sea”.

As reported in the Daily Echo, The Lookout at Lepe has been built on top of concrete columns to protect it from rising sea levels and tidal storm surges.

In 2014 the previous facility on the site suffered £100,000 of damage after it was flooded by a ferocious storm that struck the south coast.

Lepe played a major role during the build-up to the D-Day landings and evidence of its contribution to the invasion can still be seen.

The beach was used to build some of the huge concrete caissons that were towed across the Channel to form the famous Mulberry Harbour, which helped keep the troops supplied.