People who use the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal are being urged to take extra care in the light of the cold and icy weather.

The Canal & River Trust, the new charity responsible for the nation’s waterways, is asking people who enjoy its towpaths to take extra care as the cold and icy weather descends on Wiltshire.

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. Whilst frozen canals look beautiful, they say, 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, and never follow their animal on to the ice.

Mark Stephens, the trust’s waterway manager for the Kennet and Avon Canal, said: “Canals and rivers remain popular throughout the winter months when they provide a frosty escape for walkers, cyclists, anglers and joggers. However, it can be easy for people to forget the potential dangers that icy towpaths and waterways can present.

“It’s important that people take care whilst enjoying the waterways this winter, wear appropriate footwear and stay away from the edge. There is no reason why everyone can’t enjoy the picture-postcard beauty of their local waterway in safety this winter.”