Safety tips for walkers exploring canal towpaths during lockdown

A winter walk alongside a canal can be fraught with danger.A winter walk alongside a canal can be fraught with danger.
A winter walk alongside a canal can be fraught with danger.
People looking to escape their houses during lockdown have been searching out places to explore and exercise.

Canal walks have surged in popularity but strolling beside a waterway in winter can be hazardous because of the reduced daylight and wet, or even slippery, conditions.

It is important to take extra care - check the weather and wrap up warm before heading for a walk or run along a towpath.

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David Baldacchino, head of safety at safety and operations support at the Canal & River Trust, said: “As the temperature drops, our waterways look beautiful in the frost and snow and many will consider the towpath for a peaceful walk.

"Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can become slippery at this time of year. Snow can conceal boat mooring rings and ropes near the water’s edge so it’s vital that everyone bears this in mind, especially when stepping aside to pass others in a socially distanced way.

“Whilst frozen canals look stunning, they should be enjoyed from afar. No-one should ever attempt to walk on the ice or allow their dogs to do so."

The trust has issued these safety tips for people planning to walk alongside canals:

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*Check the weather – look at the forecast and see what's coming your way

*Plan your route – think about where you want to go and how long you want to be out for

*Wear the right clothing – waterproofs, sturdy footwear and warm layers

*Take a friend – it is safer to walk with others

*Take your phone (or even a whistle) – if you get into trouble, or see somebody else in trouble, you can call or whistle for help

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*Stay away from the edge - especially when trying to practise social distancing as the edge may be slippery

*Teach children not to go on the ice – children must not go on the ice under any circumstances

*Try to keep to well-lit areas - time your walks to make the most of the daylight; if you need to walk in the evening only use well-lit areas or take a route away from water

*Keep dogs under control – keep dogs on their leads when near ice and don't throw sticks onto the ice

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