Scottish Canals is urging people to be careful when they visit the country's inland waterways this winter.
The organisation has launched a safety campaign inspired by the wildlife that call the canals home – and the puppetry of Thunderbirds. The playful, but informative video features a gang off four puppets – a swan, kingfisher, hedgehog and red squirrel – and highlights how to enjoy Scotland’s canals safely during the colder weather.
The first episode, featuring a fitness-obsessed hedgehog who carefully avoids icy patches on her daily towpath treks, kicks off the campaign.
Scotland’s canals are enjoyed by everyone from walkers and kayakers to boaters and cyclists, attracting more than 22 million visits throughout the year, and winter is a particularly beautiful time on the nation’s waterways.
But, with colder weather creeping in, there’s more reason to take care near the canals, particularly on icy and frosty days. Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can be particularly slippery during the winter months and snow can conceal trip hazards such as boat mooring rings close to the water's edge.
Frozen waterways, whilst incredibly picturesque, can also be very dangerous and visitors should never attempt to walk on the canal. The ice can be very thin in places, with freezing cold water moving in currents beneath the surface. Children in particular should always be accompanied by an adult when they visit the canals and should be made aware of the potential hazards.
Pets should also never be followed out onto the ice. Animals are far more likely to make it back onto dry land safely and owners only jeopardise both themselves and their pets by stepping onto the ice.
Jim Fleming, head of health and safety at Scottish Canals, said: “Winter has arrived and frost, ice and snow have started making an appearance on our canals. Although this makes our waterways particularly beautiful places to visit at this time, it’s vital that people recognise and respect the risks of the environment.
"That’s why we’re asking everyone to be Canal Careful this winter.”