Walkers warned to stay off the ice

Despite the beauty of the wintry landscape revellers and walkers are being urged to stay away from frozen canals and waterways.

British Waterways is asking everyone who uses its towpaths to take extra care as the Met Office predicts widespread ice and snow this week. With the Christmas party season getting into full swing, it is warning revellers to stay safe when near the water.

The Regent’s Canal, Hertfordshire Cut and Limehouse Cut which runs through East London can be hazardous in icy weather.

Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides are particularly slippery at this time of year and snow can conceal boat mooring rings and ropes, which are easy to trip over. And British Waterways director Simon Salem warned that no-one should ever attempt to walk on or test the thickness of the ice.

He said: “Canals and rivers make a pretty spectacular winter scene and understandably draw in lots of walkers, cyclists, anglers and joggers to enjoy the views. Common sense usually prevails and millions of people happily enjoy the towpaths during the cold months.

“However, I would urge parents to ensure their children understand the dangers of falling through the ice into cold water, which are sudden asphyxia, hypothermia and even drowning. I cannot stress enough how dangerous freezing water is.

“I would also ask that dog owners keep their pets on a lead to prevent them falling in the water and that anyone drinking alcohol is especially careful when walking on frozen towpaths. By taking simple precautions such as sturdy footwear, visitors can easily avoid a nasty sprain, a trip to A&E or worse.”