Why no dogs?

Did you know that Clevedon Marine Lake has a strict no dogs policy? We take a look at the reasons why.

With so many great walks around Poet’s Walk and the Salthouse Fields, it’s tempting to take your dog to the marine lake. But we don’t allow dogs in the water or around the lower promenade by the lake at any time of the year. This is for a number of reasons, not least to keep the lake clean and safe for swimmers, paddlers and bathers.

Dirty dogs

You might keep your dog well-groomed, but dogs are hairy and nasties including pollen, dirt and faecal matter get trapped in their coats. Dogs in the water will introduce parasites and germs such as E.coli that affect humans and sea creatures.

But it’s not just dogs in the water that’s a problem. If your dog pees and poos on the lakeside that poses a risk to the water quality in the lake as it washes in or is transferred on people’s feet. It also poses a risk to those who sit, change, and sunbathe and to children playing.

Swimming and paddling-boarding in the lake are activities vital to people’s health and wellbeing all year round. We work very hard to keep the water as clean as possible, as well as the area around the lake, and it costs us around £20k a year and many hours of voluntary work. Keeping your dog away is an easy way to help keep our lake clean.

“When the lake’s closed because of water quality issues, not only do people lose out on the activities that help them feel good, but also coaches lose out on earnings and it costs lots of time and money to empty and clean the lake,” says Rowan Clarke who coaches swimming at the marine lake. “It’s frustrating to see people walking their dogs around the lower promenade or letting them go in the water. I have a dog myself, but I leave her at home when I go to the lake.”

Unlike the sea, which ebbs and flows all the time, the marine lake is a small body of water that only refreshes once a month or so. That makes it even more vulnerable to pollution.

Dogs: not every man’s best friend

You may love your dog, but not everybody feels the same. Some people don’t like dogs, while others are scared of them or are allergic to dogs. These people will often find places to go where dogs are banned. This is another reason to avoid bringing your dog to the lake.

Keeping dogs safe

The lake has good access for people, but not for dogs. The lip around the edge makes it difficult for a dog to climb out, and that could spell trouble if your dog falls or jumps in.

“I was coaching once and an excitable spaniel came running down to the lake and leapt in,” says Rowan. “Luckily, he was wearing a harness and he was quite light so I could pull him out!”

It’s much better to take your dog where they start off in their depth and the water gets gradually deeper. Here are some good tips on keeping your dog safe in and around water.

You could be fined

North Somerset Council have put a dog ban order in place at Clevedon Marine Lake. That means that you could be fined £80 for bringing your dog to the lake.

If you’re visiting Clevedon, you take your dog on the beach by the Little Harp and Layde Bay all year round. There are lovely walks around Poet’s Walk, and dogs are welcome in the Salthouse pub and on Clevedon Pier.

Dog-Friendly Britain is a great resource for finding places to go with your four-legged friend.

Lake closed for draining

We will be closing Clevedon Marine Lake on Sunday, October 4th 2020 until Thursday, October 15th. During this time, we will drain all the water from the lake and bring in the digger to remove as much silt as possible. We will also mend a broken penstock and do other essential cleaning and maintenance work.

The lower promenade around the lake will be out of bounds from October 5th to 9th.

Why are we draining the lake?

Clevedon has the third highest tidal range in the world. Along with strong currents, the huge tides stop the silt in the Bristol Channel from settling — that’s why the Bristol Channel looks brown! When the tide comes over the lake wall, it brings silt, which settles on the lake bed. If we don’t remove the silt, it’ll build up and the lake will get shallower. It’s also important for better water quality that we remove the mud.

Who cleans and maintains the lake?

A charity called Marlens (Marine Lake Enthusiasts) looks after the lake. It raises funds to pay for the licence to remove the silt, hire a digger and pay for its maintenance. Marlens is run by volunteers, and everyone who lends a hand with the cleaning and maintenance is also a volunteer.

We need your help

Many hands make light work. If would like to get stuck in and help with the cleaning we welcome helpers of all ages (under 16s must have a grown-up helper with them). Please email volunteer@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk

We also need to raise funds to pay for this vital work. It costs about £20k a year to keep the lake in tip-top condition, so please consider becoming a friend of the lake, donating or joining our lottery.