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Isabel Fraser reports
"Doctors have warned the elderly in particular to take precautions against the cold"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 23:03 GMT
Heavy snow hits Scotland
Pedestrian in snow
Pedestrians and drivers are warned to take care
South west Scotland is suffering heavy snow showers as the whole of the country is hit by the coldest weather in five years.

By 2300GMT on Wednesday, Dumfries and Galloway and parts of Ayrshire and Argyll had seen the worst conditions.

Police forces throughout Scotland were urging car drivers and pedestrians to venture out with "extra caution" because of the snow, freezing fog and ice.

Sub-zero temperatures and hazardous driving conditions are expected to last for the rest of the week.

Boxing Day hunt
The hunting programme has been hit
Temperatures have plunged as low as minus 12C north of the Border.

The cold snap has prompted a warning about the danger of burst pipes from engineers at Scotland's three water authorities.

They are circulating advice through leaflets and urgent television and radio advertisements in an attempt to avert damage.

In Edinburgh, Scottish Ambulance Service officers have warned walkers to stay off the steeper sections of Arthur's Seat after a number of people fell in the icy conditions and injured themselves.

Meanwhile, horse racing and athletics at the Musselburgh track in East Lothian have been disrupted by the frost.

Hunt programme

Wednesday and Thursday's jump cards have been abandoned.

The semi-finals and final, which were scheduled for Thursday, will now take place next Wednesday to coincide with another horse racing fixture.

Horse racing at Ayr was cancelled on Boxing Day, when the cold snap also hit Scotland's hunt programme.

snowy scene
The cold spell brought a white Christmas
And seven Boxing Day Scottish League fixtures were called off: Falkirk v Raith, Livingston v Ayr, Morton v Ross County, Berwick v Stranraer, Forfar v Stirling Albion, Elgin v Albion Rovers and Montrose v Hamilton.

The cold weather resulted in one of Scotland's first white Christmases for many years.

Bookmakers were the losers when snow fell across the country on Monday.

William Hill said that two punters in Glasgow were to pick up 1,600 and 700 respectively after betting on a white Christmas.

However, the snow and ice forced the cancellation of up to half of the planned Boxing Day hunt.

Pitch inspection

The Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire hunt, which was due to start near Houston, was cancelled after the ground froze overnight.

Some of the 2,000 enthusiasts due to take part said they would consider leaving their horses in stables and hunting on foot.

The festive hunts could be the last before hunting with dogs is banned by the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill.

A spokesman said the hunts which had been called off would be rescheduled to another date.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Executive's medical adviser has urged people, especially the elderly, to take sensible precautions to keep warm.

Dr Andrew Fraser says older people and those with chronic illnesses are made particularly vulnerable during sub-zero temperatures.

He added: "At least one room in your house should be well-heated; keep a supply of warm drinks like soup or tea; wear warm clothing; don't go outside unless you really have to and if you do, wear warm clothing and sturdy footwear to prevent slipping on icy roads and pavements."

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See also:

27 Dec 00 | UK
Big freeze hits UK
23 Dec 00 | Wales
Snow on cards for Christmas
13 Dec 00 | Americas
A Caribbean White Christmas
25 Dec 99 | UK
White Christmas for London
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