Reservoir Respect and Safety

Watch our short video on how to act responsibly around our reservoirs, rivers and lochs

Leave No Trace

Here in Scotland we’re very lucky to have lots of beautiful reservoirs, rivers, and lochs.

They can be popular places for visitors and we encourage everyone to enjoy the stunning sights however, it’s important to remember to leave nothing but footprints when visiting.

We ask you to respect our reservoirs and follow this advice:

Take Care Be Aware

Read our 'Take Care Be Aware' leaflet if you are planning a visit to any of our reservoirs, rivers or lochs.

Download here
  • Before visiting, familiarise yourself with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This supports you in accessing outdoor areas but only when you do so responsibly.
  • Bin your rubbish or take it home. Litter can pollute water sources and harm wildlife.
  • There are often limited facilities at our sites. If you need the loo, ensure that you take your ‘nature hike’ far away from water sources.
  • While access rights do extend to wild camping, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code defines this as lightweight and in small numbers. Make sure to keep well away from buildings, roads or historic structures and be respectful of wildlife.
  • Never cut down or damage trees to light a fire. If possible, use a stove or if you must have an open fire, keep it small, under control and remove all traces before leaving.

Know The Risks

Reservoirs, rivers & lochs might appear very inviting but there are many hidden dangers that can't be seen, and the consequences can be fatal.

In 2020, 254 people lost their lives to unintentional drowning in the UK. That’s 254 people who didn’t make it back home to their families – 39 of them were in Scotland. *

*Source: National Water Safety Forum

One Last Breath video

Watch this film from Welsh Water which captures the dangers of swimming in a reservoir and shows the devastating consequences if those dangers are ignored.

Watch the video here

Hidden dangers

The water might seem to be very calm but looks can be deceiving and there are many dangers:

  • Reservoirs are deep and the water just below the surface is icy cold, even in summer. Cold water can send your body into shock in seconds.
  • Reservoirs have strong water currents, which combined with the deep cold water can challenge even the strongest of swimmers.
  • There could be hidden underwater obstacles – such as pipework or stone and concrete structures. If you dive in, you don’t know what you might hit.
  • Steep, slippery banks can make it tricky to get back out of the water.
  • You won’t find lifesaving equipment at reservoirs, so relying on someone else to save you could put their life in danger too.
  • If you do get into trouble, mobile reception is patchy to often non-existent at many remote reservoir locations. So calling for help isn’t quick or easy.
  • Some reservoirs have air curtains – millions of bubbles aerating the water to disperse potential impurities like algae. But these bubbles create negative buoyancy, so if you swam into this area, you would struggle to stay afloat. That goes for boats too.

Useful Resources

There’s lots of great information about water safety from our partner agencies. Take a look:

Learn To Swim

Go Safe Scotland

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service



Outdoor Access Scotland

Police Scotland

Royal Life Saving Society Scotland

Water Safety Scotland

If you have any comments or concerns please contact our Customer Helpline on 0800 0778 778.