Ducks on a section of canal in Dacorum now have their own dedicated path, as part of a campaign to highlight how many millions of people use the towpath each year.
The temporary ‘duck lane’ has been painted by the Canal & River Trust in Berkhamsted to remind people that wildlife shares the narrow space with walkers, runners, cyclists, boaters and anglers.
Last year, more than 360 million visits were made to the Trust’s towpaths, with around 25million made to waterways in the South East – prompting the charity to call on visitors to help protect the ‘special atmosphere’ which has made these spaces so popular.
Vicky Martin, south east waterways manager, said: “We know that there are a lot of people using the towpath in Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead, which is fantastic, but we realise this can cause difficulties where the space is limited.
“We know that some cyclists choose to travel fast along the towpath and don’t slow down when approaching tight spots, so we’d like to remind everyone that we are all there to enjoy the space – and to watch out for ducks.
“It just wouldn’t be possible to paint lanes on the towpath for all our different visitors – cyclists, walkers, runners, anglers, boaters - so we thought the ducks could have one instead!”
As part of the campaign, cubs and beavers from 1st Apsley and 1st Gadebridge Scout groups met people on the towpath in Hemel Hempstead to remind to visitors to share the limited space along the canal.
The young volunteers were by the Durrants Hill Car Park in Hemel Hempstead last week, counting just how many people use the towpaths in the area.
The Trust’s towpath code, Better Towpaths For Everyone, came about after consultation with more than 2,000 visitors and interest groups.
The top three issues raised were the need for improvements to the towpaths, better signage and better behaviour between visitors.
Last year, the Trust secured more than £8m of funding to improve its towpaths, and it is planning a further £10m investment in the next 12 months.