HOLIDAYMAKERS are being warned to check the tide tables before allowing their children to swim along the Somerset coast.

RNLI officials in Minehead have issued the advice after two young children got into difficulties off Dunster Beach yesterday evening (Wednesday, August 19).

They found themselves isolated on a pebble ridge as the incoming tide surrounded them.

Both Minehead lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter were sent to the scene after onlookers raised the alarm though crews found the children’s parents had managed to get them safely back to shore.

But Minehead RNLI spokesman Chris Rundle said the incident had highlighted the dangers posed by the Bristol Channel’s huge tidal range - the second largest in the world.

"We have had a number of similar incidents at this locality in the past and on every occasion because people had failed to appreciate the speed at which the tide comes in,” he said.

“We are currently on a cycle of spring tides when the water rises higher and more rapidly so increasing the risk.

“This incident could have had a tragic outcome and we would urge everyone planning to go into the sea not do so before checking what the tide is doing and therefore how quickly a beach may disappear under water. “