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Bonspiel curling ‘grand match’ scrapped as Lake of Menteith ice melts

An unofficial curling tournament has failed to go ahead on a frozen loch as rising temperatures caused the ice to start melting.

Plans to stage an official Grand Match, or Bonspiel, for the first time in 30 years had to be scrapped last week because of safety fears.

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Curling enthusiasts had hoped an unofficial version of the historic meeting would take place on the Lake of Menteith on Tuesday, after thousands of curlers and spectators took to the frozen water over the weekend.

But the meeting did not take place because conditions for the sport deteriorated and the ice continued to melt away.

Only a hardcore of around 30 experienced curlers took to the ice as people were advised not to venture on to the lake, near Aberfoyle.

The Bonspiel competition, held just three times since 1945, traditionally pitches the north and south of Scotland against each other.

Ian Fleming, owner of the Lake of Menteith Hotel, said he has been monitoring the situation over the last 24 hours.

“The ice is solid enough just now but the water on it just makes it treacherous to walk on. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a curling stone causing bow waves.

“There are a number of hardcore curlers out there now, around 28 to 32 players but it’s hard to see the rinks under all the water.

“I’m confident they have the experience to know when the ice is still safe.”

He said he was more worried about the possibility of inexperienced people venturing onto the ice without knowing when it was likely to be dangerous.

The chief executive of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, Fiona Logan, said: “Due to the deteriorating conditions of the lake, there was no match today and only a small number of people were out on the ice.

“The rising temperature and melted snow has created significant surface water making it impossible to play.

“Conditions are so poor now that professional players and local residents have stopped venturing on to the lake.

“Although the Bonspiel would have been an amazing event to see, for people’s safety we would strongly advise anyone visiting the lake not to make any unnecessary journeys.”

The emergency services warned people today to take extra care near all frozen water because the melting ice may not be thick enough to support a person’s weight.

Richard Haigh of the Chief Fire Officers Association Scotland said: “There have been a number of instances where people and animals have fallen through ice and lives have been lost.

“I would urge people simply not to take such unnecessary risks. Stay off the ice and keep pets on a leash.”

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