Three men needed to be dramatically rescued from a mudflat in Somerset as they became stuck up to their waists in quicksand.
The holidaymakers sparked the rescue mission when the tried to cross a 1.8 mile-wide river estuary at low tide.
Walkers on a nearby headland heard their cries for help and a rescue operation was launched involving coastguards, paramedics and a police helicopter.
They had been attempting to get across the mouth of the River Axe between Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and Brean Down.
The friends were eventually located around half-a-mile from the shore but managed to haul themselves to safety after an estimated two hours in the mud.
One of the exhausted men - who were all aged in their late teens or early 20s - was covered up to his shoulders in sand and silt.
Burnham-on-Sea Coastguard officer Steve Bird said the three were lucky to escape.
He said: 'The three gentlemen attempted to cross at low tide. You can get stuck and then the tide comes in, and there is a real risk of drowning.
'People unfortunately do try to cross the river every year, despite all the warning signs.
'Under no circumstances should anyone ever try to cross this river estuary. We received three 999 calls tonight from concerned walkers who saw the three men.
'While no-one was injured this time, we could easily have seen a tragic ending.'
One of the men made it across to the sand at Burnham but the two others turned back after getting stranded.
They were met by police and paramedics after the ordeal and a local hovercraft was put on stand-by to rescue them if needed.
A spokesman for Swansea Coastguard, which co-ordinated the response, said: 'It (the other side) looks a lot closer then it is.
'But when you get out into the mud you realise it's a long way and you get bogged down. It's exhausting.'