Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Frozen Lake of Menteith hosts 'winter festival'

Lake of Menteith
About 5,000 people are thought to have come to the lake on Sunday

Thousands of people have been curling, sledging and skating on the Lake of Menteith, despite the planned curling tournament being called off.

Local hotel owner Ian Fleming said it had been a "Scottish winter festival" on the ice over the weekend.

An unofficial curling match is also expected to be held on Tuesday.

Curlers were hoping to stage a Grand Match at the lake near Aberfoyle - the first in more than 30 years - but it was cancelled over safety fears.

Mr Fleming, who owns the Lake Hotel in Port of Menteith said: "We're guessing about 3,500 people turned up on Saturday, but there were probably as many as 5,000 on Sunday.

"It really was like a Scottish winter festival. There were curlers, skaters and people out with their children. It was an amazing atmosphere."

Curlers on the Lake of Menteith
More curlers are expected to turn up to an unofficial grand match on Tuesday

Mr Flemming said the hotel had held a barbeque on the ice to keep up with the demand for food and drink from those out on the ice.

More curlers are expected to turn up on Tuesday for the unofficial grand match.

Curlers were checking the ice frequently to check it was still safe, the hotelier added.

A Facebook group has also been set up to encourage people to curl and skate on the lake.

Student David Drysdale created the "Unofficial Bonspiel" page after hearing the Royal Caledonian Curling Club had cancelled the official Grand Match.

He said on the page: "I am suggesting that we have an unofficial event for those who feel that this is an opportunity too good to let it go to waste.

"Bring your stones, bring your skates if you prefer or just bring yourself. Take heed of the warnings but do it anyway."

Lake of Menteith
Many families were also out enjoying the ice

The Grand Match was called off because the emergency services said they could not guarantee the safety of players or spectators.

Two thousand curlers would have competed at the Grand Match and thousands more spectators were expected.

Central Scotland Police were particularly concerned about high numbers of vehicles parking on local roads to get to the event.

Officers partially shut a road near the lake on Saturday and Sunday to ease the traffic problems.

The B8034 Arnprior to Port of Menteith road was closed to northbound traffic because of the large number of cars parked on grass verges.

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