Tick warning to Munro hillwalkers

MUNRO baggers love ticking off the peaks they climb. But walkers and climbers are being urged to make sure that a Munro mountain is the only tick they come home with from their trip.

Ticks are thriving in the Munros this year. Picture: National Trust for Scotland
Ticks are thriving in the Munros this year. Picture: National Trust for Scotland

Heather Morning, the Mountain Safety Advisor with The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (McoS), is advising hill-goers to check themselves carefully after a day on the hill to ensure they haven’t picked up any unwanted guests.

Ticks are small arthropods - related to spiders and scorpions - and are common in vegetated areas in the Scottish hills.

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They are particularly suited to mild damp climates and therefore thrive on the west coast mountain regions of Scotland.

Aside from being a nuisance, ticks carry diseases, including Lyme Disease which can be extremely serious if not diagnosed early.

Worryingly, after the mild winter of 2014, the wee beasties seem to be out in force.

Heather said: “Last weekend we enjoyed a camping trip over in Moidart in the most stunning weather.

“Relaxing at the camp site after a day on the hill, we noticed several ticks on our feet and during the following week found several latched onto our bodies even though we had thoroughly checked ourselves when we got home.

“The dog didn’t escape either; we have been removing engorged ticks from her for several days now.”

Heather recommends that hill walkers are vigilant and take some simple precautions such as tucking trousers into socks or wearing gaiters when on the hill.

She added: “It’s also well worth taking a good look at yourself when you return home to spot the ticks before they latch on. From experience, they seem to appear even a few days later.

“If you find one attached to you, remove with a tick hook. If in doubt seek advice from your doctor.”

The McoS, which has 12,000 members, is advising those who have never had a tick to check out a six-minute video clip on their website to see what they look like and how to safely remove them.

It is available at the following link: http://www.mcofs.org.uk/hillwalking-essentials-video.asp.