The Canal & River Trust is reminding people to take extra care on the towpaths while enjoying the waterways this winter.

The waterways are beautiful places to spend time when it’s frosty and snowy – and look great on Instagram - but on wet and icy towpaths the risk increases of slipping, tripping or falling into freezing water.

The waterways and wellbeing charity, which cares for 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales, has written some top tips for towpath visitors this winter:

• Whether running, walking or cycling, be safe and tell someone where you are heading – take your mobile phone;

• The towpath can be slippery when wet and icy so wear sturdy footwear and be careful where you tread. Stay away from the edge;

• Make sure you are wearing enough layers and check the weather before heading out;

• Daylight draws in fast during the winter months so try to avoid routes along icy towpaths in the late afternoon;

• Ice on the canal will not support your weight. Do not step on the ice.

Debbie Lumb, national health & safety advisor at the Canal & River Trust, said: “For the millions of people living alongside them, especially in our towns and cities where green space is at a premium, canals and rivers can provide a boost to health, happiness and wellbeing.

"The waterways look beautiful in the frost and snow and it’s no wonder people want to head to the towpath for a wintery walk. However, with the cold temperatures and the dark afternoons and nights, it’s even more important to remember the potential dangers of walking, running or cycling along the edge of the water.

“Some towpaths aren’t lit up after dark and when it’s very cold it’s all too easy to slip on ice or wet ground and fall in. Even if you know the towpath like the back of your hand, one wrong step and you could end up in freezing cold water.

"So our message is to take care near the edge of the water, go with someone or tell someone where you are going.”

Towpaths, bridges and lock-sides can 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 in case they run onto ice, and to never follow their pet on to a frozen canal.

To find out more about staying safe near the water visit