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Please be careful on icy towpaths this winter

We're calling on people to stay safe by taking extra care on towpaths this winter

Winter on the canal

Given the cold time of year, it's important to be extra vigilant. Enjoy the towpaths with friends, wrap up warm and check the weather before heading for a walk or run along a towpath. If you have been enjoying a festive drink, make sure you walk home with a friend and stay away from the water.

Tony Stammers, head of safety at the Canal & River Trust, said: “As the temperature drops, our waterways look beautiful in the frost and snow and the towpath is a perfect place to head for a wintery walk. However, with the cold temperatures and the nights drawing in, it's even more important to remember the potential dangers of walking along the edge of the water.

“Many towpaths are unlit and quiet and it's all too easy to slip over or fall in. So our message is to take care near the edge of the water and always wrap up warm.

“Overall, the number of deaths are decreasing on our waterways, but every fatality is one too many. Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can also become slippery at this time of year and snow can conceal boat mooring rings and ropes which, unless people are paying attention, can be easy to trip over. And whilst frozen canals look beautiful no-one should ever attempt to walk on or test the thickness of the ice.”

Families should make sure that young children are kept within sight and made aware of the importance of staying away from the edge. Dog walkers are advised to keep dogs on leads during a freeze and never follow their animal on to the ice.

Top tips:

  • Whether running or walking, be safe and tell someone where you are heading
  • Rubbish and reeds lurk beneath the water's surface which could drag you down so don't get in the water
  • The towpath can be slippery when wet and icy so wear sturdy footwear and be careful where you tread
  • Daylight draws in fast during the winter months so avoid walking in the late afternoon
  • It's very hard to tell from the surface how deep the water is – some canals will be deeper than you think. Ice will not support your weight

Last Edited: 04 December 2015

photo of a location on the canals
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