Donate now

Night-time rescue by Minehead RNLI for trapped walkers

Lifeboats News Release

Two walkers spent an uncomfortable five hours trapped at the bottom of 800-feet sea cliffs before they could be helped to safety on Friday night (29 September).

Stock photo showing Minehead Lifeboat Station

Nicholas Leach

Stock photo of Minehead Lifeboat Station

But at least they achieved one distinction - becoming the first casualties to be rescued by Minehead’s new Atlantic 85 Penny J ll, which has only been on service for a week.

The men set off from Minehead late on Friday afternoon with the intention of walking to Porlock along the beach. But after a mile they discovered the incoming spring tide had trapped them in a small area of boulders at the base of the cliff.

Minehead’s D class lifeboat was launched in response to their 999 call to the Coastguard but because of sea conditions was unable to manoeuvre to them and instead stood off until the tide peaked.

An HM Coastguard helicopter from South Wales was diverted to the scene but was too low on fuel to mount a rescue operation and although the Newquay coastguard helicopter arrived soon afterwards the crew decided against trying to winch the men out.

Minehead RNLI local operations manager Dr John Higgie said they could hardly have been in a worse location.

'They were stuck right underneath the cliff and with the sea where it was they couldn’t even more away from it to give the helicopter more room to manoeuvre,' he said.

'It was decided to wait for the tide to go down and then pick them up from somewhere more accessible'.

Both the Minehead boats were relaunched at 10.30pm by which time the men had made their way along to Selworthy Sands, from where they were extracted.

Dr Higgie said the pair had done the right thing by taking a mobile phone with them.

'We always say it’s vital to carry some means of attracting attention, preferably a phone, when exploring this part of the coast. Had they not been able to make contact and raise the alarm about their situation they would have been stuck all night in an extremely precarious situation,' he said.

Media Contacts:

Chris Rundle, Minehead volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (07786) 630523 [email protected]

Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07786 668847 or [email protected]

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.