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The chalk escarpment (also known as a cuesta) is the most distinctive feature of chalk scenery in England. It consists of two parts- the scarp slope, which is steep, and the dip slope, on which the land falls away more gently. The top of the escarpment has gently rolling hills with rounded summits. There is little surface drainage and rivers are few and far between; however, in places the dip slope has been cut by deep, steep-sided, V-shaped dry valleys, which are marked landscape features. After spells of wet weather temporary streams may flow in the valleys; these are known as bournes, and this term is used in place names such as Bournemouth and Eastbourne.
Chalk outcrops along the coast often lead to high cliffs such as the famous 'white cliffs of Dover', and to prominent headlands, such as Beachy Head in Sussex and Flamborough Head in Yorkshire. Erosion around headlands can lead to the formation of caves, arches and stacks. The Needles off the north-west corner of the Isle of Wight are examples of stacks.
In contrast, the clay vale is a wide and often almost flat area of land. Surface drainage is abundant and the vale is crossed by meandering steams. At the coast, clay forms weak cliffs which slide and collapse.
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