Rescue for anniversary walkers

Lifeboats News Release

Daniel and Ellie Honey’s idea for celebrating their third wedding anniversary did not quite work out as planned.

For instead of a sunny coastal walk followed by a leisurely lunch at a pub they found themselves trapped at the bottom of 600-foot cliffs and having to be rescued by RNLI lifeboat.

The couple, from Plymouth, set out this morning to walk the eight miles from Minehead to Porlock Weir, intending to follow the first section of the 632-mile South West Coast Path.

But a mile into their journey they took a wrong turn off the route and ended up on a boulder-strewn beach.

Ellie said: 'We struggled along it because we thought at any time we would come across a path taking us back up – but there wasn’t one.'

'After we had been going for about three hours we could see the tide was coming in and we weren’t going to be able to get any further.'

'It looked as though there might have been a way up the cliff from where we ended up but we don’t know the area so we decided to stay put on the beach and call the coastguard.'

'We figured it would be easier for someone to find us where we were rather than have to come and look for us if we tried to get up the cliff and got into difficulty.'

Minehead’s D class lifeboat was launched just after mid-day and soon located the couple at Selworthy Sands, just east of Hurlestone Point. They were taken off the beach and landed back at Minehead a few minutes later.

Volunteer lifeboat helm Phil Sanderson said Daniel and Ellie had done exactly the right thing.

'They certainly couldn’t have made it any further along the beach and without local knowledge they could have got into serious trouble if they had decided to climb,' he said.

'Staying in a safe place and calling for help was the sensible decision.'

Phil continued: 'They don’t need to feel embarrassed: this is one of the nastiest stretches of coast on our entire patch and we have rescued literally dozens of people from the same spot.'

Getting cut off by the tide contributes to a significant number of RNLI rescues every year.

Because tide times and heights vary throughout the month, a beach that was clear yesterday at 5pm might be completely covered in sea at the same time today.

Tides have a reputation for being unpredictable. Check the tide conditions and your surroundings

To avoid getting cut off by the tide:

  • Before you head out, make sure it’s safe. Check the tide tables. Tell someone where you are going.
  • While you’re out, be aware of your surroundings and the tide’s direction.

RNLI/Chris Rundle

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.