Scottish Canals urges public to be #CanalCareful this winter

Scottish Canals is urging the public to be #CanalCareful when they visit the nation’s inland waterways this winter with a safety campaign inspired by the wildlife that call the canals home – and the puppetry of Thunderbirds…

The playful winter safety campaign features a group of four puppets ­– a swan, kingfisher, hedgehog and red squirrel – highlighting 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.

“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.”

Jim Fleming, Head of Health & Safety at Scottish Canals

The towpaths of Scotland’s canals are also busier than ever and play host to a wide variety of users, from cyclists and runners, to dog walkers and horse riders. With a finite amount of space on the paths, users are encouraged to be considerate of others, manage their speed, stay alert and help avoid any accidents that may result in someone taking a tumble into the water.

Anyone taking to the towpaths is encouraged to read Boats, Bikes, Boots and Beyond – a document launched by Scottish Canals in partnership with various stakeholders last year – that sets out guidelines and safety tips for everyone from horse riders and anglers to cyclists and walkers. To date, more than 10,000 copies of the guide have been distributed. A digital version is also available for download from Scottish Canals’ website.

For more information on being #CanalCareful this winter, see

The first #CanalCareful video can be viewed at

Notes to Editors

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five Scottish canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year. See for more information

For further information, please contact:

Chris McDonald at Scottish Canals on 07917217608 or email

Nicola Sturgeon at Scottish Canals on 07767 383 557 or email

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