© Liverpool Echo

Seal washed up in a field in Newton-le-Willows near Warrington, Cheshire
A seal had to be rescued from a field more than 20 miles inland - after apparently getting "very, very lost".

The seal, which was discovered in Newton-le-Willows, near St Helens in Merseyside on Monday morning, was likely to have swum up to 50 miles away from its home before clambering into the fenced-off field from a nearby brook, experts said.

It was found in a "distressed" state by a dog-walker at about 9.45am, sparking a rescue operation involving the emergency services and the RSPCA as police warned locals to stay away from the "potentially dangerous" animal.

The creature, believed to be a juvenile male grey seal, was eventually coaxed into a trailer using mackerel as bait and taken to a wildlife centre for checks.

Farm owner Gary Watkinson, who owns the field where the seal was found, said: "We woke up this morning and found a seal in our field, which is quite unusual to say the least.

"We usually have a few ponies and a couple of sheep but never any seals. We're about 20 miles away from the coast.

"It's definitely come up from the brook near here. I tracked its movements and you can see the marks in the soil."

Rachael Fraser of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, told the Liverpool Echo the seal seemed "very stressed" and "a little dehydrated".

"There's a grey seal colony near Hilbre Island and that's where we think he's come from - but he's got very, very lost," she said.

From Hilbre Island at the mouth of the Dee Estuary the seal would have had to swim an estimated 50 miles, around the Wirral into the Mersey Estuary and then up a series of brooks to reach the field.

© Mercury Press
A seal was spotted by a member of the public in a field outside the Red Bank Farm Shop
Nicola Watkinson, who works at the nearby Red Bank Farm Shop, said: "Someone rang up this morning and said there's a great big sea lion outside our shop.

"We've got traffic piled up with people looking at it, and there's lots of police here.

"They are trying to get near it but it's not very friendly."

A woman who lives nearby said she saw the seal when she opened her curtains - and assumed it was a pony which had collapsed.

She said: "I thought it must have been hurt. It was right up against next door's fence.

"The poor thing must be so scared."