A woman and her two dogs were trapped beneath cliffs as the tide came rushing in.

Coastguards from West Bay and Lyme Regis and the RNLI were called to the Black Ven, between Charmouth and Lyme Regis, yesterday afternoon to reports of a 33-year-old woman being trapped by the tide.

She had been in the area for the day fossil hunting and had her two dogs with her.

To escape the incoming waters, the woman had climbed the lower cliff levels at Black Ven looking for a footpath, but then called the emergency services when she realised she was in difficulty and the light was starting to fade.

Officers from West Bay headed for Charmouth and the RNLI Lyme Regis lifeboat was launched.

Volunteer lifeboat crew launched the lifeboat at 4.35pm and, after performing a shoreline search, they were able to locate the woman because she was using the torch function on her mobile phone.

A coastguard senior coastal operations officer who was in the area at the time also responded to assist.

Rescuers found there was no clear access to the woman from the land, so two lifeboat crew members swam ashore to make contact with her from the beach.

"It was a very high tide," said a spokesman for Lyme Regis RNLI. "So the woman has decided to move to higher ground. This made it very difficult for the coastguard teams to access the location."

The lifeboat then returned to Lyme Regis to pick up further crew as well as a number of coastguard officers equipped with mud rescue equipment.

Back on the beach, coastguards and lifeboat crew, including a paramedic, assessed the woman's condition.

Although quite cold, she was uninjured, but due to the darkness as well as the sea and cliff conditions, it was decided a helicopter would provide the safest method of rescue and the coastguard rescue helicopter, based at Newquay, was scrambled to assist.

She was winched from her position on the cliff and into the helicopter, before being dropped back in Charmouth at a night-time helicopter landing site which had been secured by officers from West Bay.

She was checked over by a waiting paramedic and cleared on scene.

Officers then waited with the woman while volunteer lifeboat crew utilised their small boat to carry the two dogs and crew ashore back to the main inshore lifeboat.

A spokesman for West Bay Coastguard said: "When walking on the coast, always make sure that you check the up-and-coming weather and tide times. Be prepared for the conditions by wearing appropriate clothing and footwear. If you are walking alone, make sure you have a method of calling for help and let someone know where you are going, and what time you expect to be back.

"Stay safe on the coast, but If you find yourself in difficulty or if you see something which gives you cause for concern, call 999 and ask for the coastguard."