Rescues prompt warning to coast walkers and swimmers

A mother and her six-year-old son who became stuck in mud up to his waist at Thornham Marshes had to

Thornham Marshes, where a mother and her six-year-old son who became stuck in mud up to his waist and had to be rescued by Hunstanton RNLI. - Credit: Chris Bishop

Walkers and swimmers  enjoying the warmer weather along Norfolk's coast have been warned to take care following a number of rescues. 

The RNLI and Coastguard have urged people to check tide times and always carry a means of communication with them in case of an emergency. 

The RNLI came to the rescue of a mother and her six-year-old son, who became stuck in mud up to his waist at Thornham marshes on Thursday. 

Hunstanton Lifeboat was also called to help people cut off by the tide at Scolt Head Island off Brancaster on Saturday, and Wells Lifeboat rescued two walkers and their dog after they were cut off by the incoming tide on Stiffkey marshes, on Easter Sunday. 

Justine Sykes, volunteer press officer for Wells Lifeboat, said it was easier than people realised to get stranded by the tide as the volume of water in north Norfolk's many sea creeks varied greatly throughout the day. 

Crews launch the Wells inshore lifeboat after dog walkers became stranded on Stiffkey marshes.

Crews launch the Wells inshore lifeboat after dog walkers became stranded on Stiffkey marshes. - Credit: RNLI

She said: “The land is forever changing and people do get caught out. Wells has a lot of channels which people cross at low tide, and as the tide turns, the sea will have come in behind them and they can't get back across without help from the RNLI."

Ms Sykes said the key piece of advice was to check tide times and make sure to be back on the 'mainland' at least four hours before high tide. 

She said: "It's also important they've got a form of communication on them - ideally a mobile phone in a waterproof case. 

People swimming in the sea at Sea Palling beach. Picture: Danielle Booden

File photo from last summer of people bathing in Sea Palling. The water is still too cold for most people, but those who do venture in for open water swimming should wear a wetsuit. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"People should also tell someone where they're going, and about what time they will be back, so if they do go missing, someone can raise the alarm."

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Coastguard teams supported the RNLI with the rescues. 

Chris Shortis from Sheringham Coastguard said walkers getting stranded was the main type of incident they were called out to at this time of year, as the water was still generally too cold for swimming.

But Mr Shortis said anyone who did plan to swim should be properly equipped. 

He said: "If you're a serious swimmer rather than a paddler you should have a wetsuit and a swim buoy. Remember at this time of year the water is still very coloured - it's difficult to see objects below the waterline - until it clears up in June/July and we have a few months of clear water."

The Eastern Daily Press has launched the Play It Safe campaign urging the public to be water aware.

The Play It Safe campaign is urging the public to be water aware. - Credit: Archant

Last year, fears over water safety prompted the Eastern Daily Press and its sisters papers, the North Norfolk News and the Great Yarmouth Mercury, to launch the Play It Safe, Be Water Aware campaign to ensure visitors to the coast and rivers were aware of the dangers.

Enjoying the coast safely

Tips for walkers
- Check tide times online at - if walking in areas with creeks or marshes, make sure to be back on the mainland at least four hours before high tide. 

- Carry a phone and download the app What3words. You can use it to let rescuers know exactly where you are if you get into trouble.

- Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

North Norfolk coast generic boats in creek on salt marsh Picture: Chris Bishop

Boats in a sea creek on a north Norfolk salt marsh. The area's coastline is popular with walkers, but people should take care not to get cut off by the tide. - Credit: Chris Bishop

Tips for swimmers

 - If you are swimming rather than bathing, remember that at this time of year, the water is cold, so wear a wetsuit. 

- Don't go swimming alone, and make sure you are a strong pool swimmer before becoming an open-water swimmer.