A message in a bottle, launched into the sea from the West Cumbrian coast, has been found 20 miles away – and over 20 years later.

On March 10, 1999, a Mrs T Smith put her note in the bottle and sent it into the sea from Whitehaven

And almost 21 years later, on January 4 of this year, sisters Lexie and Ammie Sanderson, from Dalbeattie, Scotland, were wandering around their local beach, Port Mary, Dundrennan when they stumbled across the mystery message.

"They were so excited," mum Michelle said. "I don't think they knew was it was – they've never heard of a message in a bottle!"

She continued: "The beach is really stony, and the girls were out walking and just spotted it on the rocks."

Lexie, 10, and Ammie, seven, regularly walk along the beach with their dad, David, but have never found anything as exciting as the nineties-note.

Michelle said: "My husband's gran lived near Port Mary, so he's always walked there and loves exploring with the girls.

"He loves getting out with them. They go out every Saturday and do all this sort of thing, trying to find interesting things to bring home."

She added: "I think he was more excited than the girls to find the message in a bottle!"

Hoping to find the woman who sent the note, Michelle shared her daughters' find to social media, and the whole family has their fingers tightly crossed that they will find who it belongs to.

"The girls would be so touched if we found 'Mrs T Smith'," she said. "It's amazing that the bottle's so old and they just happened to find it – it was sent nearly 21 years ago, and it's so exciting."

While many people – especially Smiths – have shared the post and asked around their families, there's been no luck in finding the owner.

And while they wait to hear from the long-lost letter writer, the treasured find is being kept in a safe place – "locked away so I don't accidentally throw it out!" Michelle explained.