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Enjoying the Rivers and Lakes of Wales

Visiting inland water is extremely popular and the new Waterside Code and film, Enjoying the Rivers and Lakes of Wales, provide guidance on how everyone, whether you are a paddlesport enthusiast, angler or swimmer, can enjoy the activity in a way that also cares for these important natural habitats, while being sensitive to other users around them.

Launching the Waterside Code at the Royal Welsh Show, Welsh Government Environment Minister John Griffiths AM said: “Encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors brings major economic, social and health benefits to Wales. I am a keen swimmer myself and am particularly interested in the Code’s advice for swimmers. It’s crucial that we continue to open up access to our inland waterways and ensure people are aware of how to behave in a safe, responsible and sustainable way."

He added: "This new Waterside Code will help people explore Wales' inland waters with confidence. It reminds us all of our responsibilities towards the environment we're enjoying, and about considering other users as well."

The Waterside Code, complements the Countryside Code. Its development has been led by the Welsh Government in consultation with the main inland water activity user groups.

CCW has published the Waterside Code and Morgan Parry, CCW Chairman, said: “Exploring Wales’ rivers and lakes can be an unforgettable experience, bringing you into close contact with rich natural habitats. It’s really important that users get to know the environment they’re enjoying so that they can help preserve it.”

Chris Wright of Snowdonia-Active, a partner in the production of the DVD, said: “We know that if outdoor users can be made aware of the special nature of the places they use, they will take positive steps to minimise the impact of their activities. So, the Waterside Code and the Enjoying the Rivers and Lakes of Wales DVD should bring real benefits.”

Over the coming months, more specific and detailed codes of conduct will be developed for key activities – angling, canoeing and wild swimming will be the first of these. Working groups will be set up to develop the content of the codes, which will also be sent out to consultation.

Ray Woods from Plantlife is the DVD's main presenter and together with stressing the importance of sustainable use of freshwater habitats he highlights the part recreational users can play in reducing the threat posed to lakes and rivers from invasive species, such as Dikerogammarus villosus (a.k.a the Killer Shrimp) and Himalayan Balsam. The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) funded this educational film, with support from the Environment Agency Wales, produced by 2 Rays production. A DVD (running time: approx 17 mins) will be sent to all outdoor activity centres to help them prepare for activities on lakes and rivers.

Top tips for using Wales’ inland waters include:
  • Respecting other people by finding out where you can and cannot go before visiting
  • Checking the weather forecast before leaving home as water conditions can change rapidly in rivers and lakes
  • Always making sure that you know how to get in and out of water safely as there can be hidden dangers
  • Being careful not to disturb fish eggs in shallow parts of the river between autumn and spring
  • Using established places to get in and out of the water to protect riverbanks and lakesides
  • Checking, cleaning and drying clothing and equipment before travelling to new places to stop the spread of invasive species
For more information on invasive species go to direct.gov.uk

You can download a pdf of the Waterside Code here and watch the DVD online at Vimeo.

Topic: Enjoying the Rivers and Lakes of Wales, Rivers and Lakes of Snowdonia, Conservation and Recreation.

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