Loch Lomond and the River Leven are bonnie but deadly dangerous.
By Elaine Brewer
With warm temperatures and sunshine returning this week, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority is urging visitors to take extra care on or around the water this weekend.
The National Park is within easy reach of more than 50% of Scotland’s population and in good weather, its lochs and rivers are a popular destination for visitors.
Following a series of tragic incidents in the National Park’s lochs in July, the Park Authority and its partners are working closely to support people to enjoy the water safely and encourage everyone to make sure they know the potential risks.
Leigh Hamilton, Ranger Service Manager, said: “Being close to or going into the water is very appealing when the weather is warm and it can be great fun, whether that’s just a dip to cool down or enjoying activities like swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.
“It is important though to understand the risks and to know how to enjoy the water safely.
“Even when it’s hot, the water in lochs is very cold and can cause cold water shock, even in experienced swimmers. Going into a loch is very different to going into the sea, where the water gradually gets deeper. Lochs often get deep very quickly with sudden, steep drops close to the shore.
“Take some time to read the water safety advice on our website and share this information with family and friends.”
The National Park’s lochs are enjoyed by a wide range of people for multiple activities on or around the water, from swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking, to boats and other powered crafts.
National Park Rangers carry out daily patrols both on the ground and on Loch Lomond, speaking to visitors to provide advice and encourage responsible behaviour.
Loch Lomond Park Authority ranger patrol boat.
They also enforce byelaws on Loch Lomond in partnership with Police Scotland. During a particularly busy summer for visitor numbers, there have been more than double the number of byelaw contraventions by powered water craft users compared with last year.
Leigh added: “Everyone who enjoys the loch – whether paddling, swimming, sailing or on a jet ski – should have safety in the forefront of their mind and show respect for others in or on the water.
“Sadly we have seen issues with irresponsible behaviour by some people recently in some of our busiest areas, such as Luss and Balloch. We, along with our partners in the police and local authorities are paying particularly close attention to these hotspot areas to both encourage appropriate use of the loch and take enforcement action when needed.”
“Byelaws on Loch Lomond set out slower speed zones in certain areas for all vessels which must be observed to keep everyone safe. The byelaws also cover vessels such as paddleboards and kayaks and state that buoyancy aids must be on board. We strongly advise that everyone wears these whatever your age or ability.”
A programme of enhanced water safety measures has been rolled out by the National Park Authority over the past year, including the installation of new water safety signage and public rescue equipment (PRE).
Further signage has been installed this week at a number of visitor sites and discussions between the National Park Authority and key water safety partners to consider existing measures and any further actions that can be taken are ongoing.
For advice on staying safe in the water this weekend, see the water safety pages on the National Park Authority’s website: www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/watersafety