Quicksand warning issued for areas of county coastline

One of the warning signs erected at Druridge Bay beach earlier this year.
One of the warning signs erected at Druridge Bay beach earlier this year.

Visitors to the Northumberland coast are being urged to take extra care around patches of quicksand on some beach areas.

Areas of soft sand have appeared on parts of Druridge Bay, Cambois and Seaton Sluice beaches, which could be potentially dangerous to people and animals.

One of the warning signs that was erected at Druridge Bay beach earlier this year.

One of the warning signs that was erected at Druridge Bay beach earlier this year.

A few days ago, a video was posted online showing the extent of the problem at Seaton Sluice. It shows Paul Stott, of Seaton Delaval, putting a dog toy into the ground before his whole arm becomes submerged in the sand.

Quicksand is not obvious to the eye and there is generally little or no warning of the transition from firm sand to quicksand. Pockets of quicksand can develop for a number of reasons, both natural and man-made, and do not always stay in the same positions after each high tide.

Adam Turner, from the UK Coastguard, said: “If you become stuck in mud or quicksand, stay calm, try to spread your weight as much as possible and avoid moving. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

“Anybody trapped should also discourage members of the public from attempting to rescue them because without the proper equipment they could become stuck too.”

Northumberland County Council is supporting the safety messages from the Coastguard and is also placing some signs in car parks at Seaton Sluice to alert visitors to the possible dangers.

Earlier this year, warning signs were erected along Druridge Bay beach after sump holes and quicksand appeared at Hadston Carrs and north of Hauxley Nature Reserve, between Silver Carrs and Hauxley Haven.

Paul Hedley, chief fire officer at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We want people to continue to enjoy Northumberland’s beaches but visitors must be aware that there are some areas of very soft sand usually found around the low water mark.

“It is very difficult to see where patches of quicksand are so we are urging visitors to be careful where they are walking and to call the Coastguard if they get into difficulty.

“While the council does not own the land between the high and low water marks, we are putting out some safety messages via social media, and our local services team is placing some signs in the area.”

If you get stuck or see someone in difficulty, call 999.