It was meant to be a relaxing walk by the river with her dogs.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Chrissie Fisk with her two pet black Labradors as well as one that belongs to her friendChrissie Fisk with her two pet black Labradors as well as one that belongs to her friend (Image: Archant)

But for Chrissie Fisk, her day out ended with a call-out from the lifeboat service, a helicopter rescue and a lengthy stay in hospital.

Mrs Fisk had been walking with her two black Labradors, and another belonging to a friend, along the marshes on the banks of river Yare between Cantley and Reedham when one of them charged up behind her, knocking her to the ground.

The impact injured her leg, leaving her unable to get up to reach help, as darkness approached. Fortunately, she had enough phone reception to raise the alarm.

Gorleston Coastguard and a paramedic was called out along the muddy footpath a mile from the road, while the Gorleston Inshore Lifeboat crew arrived by river to assist her.

Because of the remote nature of the riverside spot, Mrs Fisk, from Limpenhoe, had to be airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where she was found to have a broken right kneecap.

She said: 'Even with three hairy dogs to cuddle and wearing serious dog walking clothes, it was freezing out on the marshes and pitch black.

'The moral of the story is never get head-butted by a running Labrador that is not looking where it's going. Always have your mobile phone in your pocket and boy was I grateful to have a signal.

'I just want to thank the splendid emergency services we have. From Adam the paramedic who lugged all his kit down a muddy mile to reach me, to the Gorleston Inshore Life Boat Crew, who came through the marshes from the river, and the team on the Coastguard rescue helicopter.

'They were all cheerful, good natured, professional to their fingertips and such a welcome sight.

'Norfolk and Norwich staff were also wonderful on what must have been one of the busiest nights of the year and I can't thank them enough for the warm air blanket to thaw me out.'

After Mrs Fisk was sent tumbling by the dog at 5pm on Friday afternoon, one of the first people she contacted was friend Simon Ash, who owns one of the Labradors.

He said: 'It was a miracle she had phone signal, as she was a long way from visible distance - about a 30 minute walk away from the Ferry Inn Pub.

'She called me so I could come and collect my dog, Iris, and her dogs AJ and Merry. When I got there she seemed in remarkably good spirits despite the injury.'

Surgery on Mrs Fisk's injured knee is scheduled to take place next week.

Mrs Fisk, said: 'The real irony is that after 35 years of sailing out of Lowestoft and never having to call out the lifeboat, I take the dogs for a walk by the river and look what happens.'