Norfolk tide times are catching out tourists and leaving them stranded, RNLI warns
Tourists have been warned against venturing too far out along Norfolk's beaches after lifeboat crews had to carry out back-to-back rescues for people caught out by low tides, including a pair of teenagers.
The RNLI Hunstanton Hovercraft was called out twice within two hours along the West Norfolk coast at the weekend - first when two teenagers were cut off by the tide at Scolt Head Island, near Brancaster, and again when a middle-aged couple were stranded on Thornham marshes.
In both incidents on Saturday, July 8 the hovercraft reached those stranded and took them to safety, with the father in charge of the teenagers later donating £40 to the RNLI as a thank you.
READ MORE: Stranded teenagers cut off by the tide are rescued at Brancaster, NorfolkThe teenagers also apologised to the lifeboat crew for getting into that situation but thanked them for their assistance.
But Geoff Needham, spokesman for Hunstanton RNLI, said the combination of the warm weather bringing out tourists and fortnightly 'spring tides' - which leave vast expanses of open beach with shallow water, lulling people into a false sense of security - mean more people are getting caught out.
Although there are escape routes, visitors without local knowledge may not know where to turn, he warned.
'People really should be heeding to the local knowledge or finding out what the tide situation is,' he said.
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'In the afternoon there can be a vast expansion of sand banks virtually ankle-deep with water.
'An hour later, when the tide starts to turn, they find their route cut off and they get themselves in a muddle.
'When the tide turns, it comes in at a hell of a rate of knots. It nearly sweeps you off your feet and you feel as if the sand is going underneath you.
'We're here to get them out of the muddle but I wouldn't be surprised if we get more of these. The number of people getting cut off by the tide seems to be increasing.'
His message is: 'Don't venture out too far.'
If people do get caught at places like Scolt Island, Mr Needham advises them to stay there until they are rescued, adding: 'They're not in real danger. They might get cold and impatient but eventually they will be able to get off.
'Don't try to swim to safety.'
However, he said people need 'to have adequate clothing, because the weather conditions can change'.
An RNLI spokesman added: 'Visitors to the coast should be aware of the tide times however tempting it is to walk out on to the marshes and banks, the tidal current's are strong as the tide turns and soon floods the creeks, cutting off your retreat.
'Take care, enjoy the beach, respect the water. Stay safe.'