Mountain Safety

The Scottish hills and mountains contain some of the best scenery in the world, and offer a whole range of outdoor experiences for walkers and climbers alike.

Hazards do however exist.  Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk.

The Scottish wilderness is purposefully left as it is, and paths and tracks are rarely signposted, and some tracks marked on maps may even be difficult to find.

The information provided on this website is provided in good faith, but it is your responsibility to check it that you are happy with the nature of the activity and that you are able to navigate using a map and compass where appropriate.

Where at all possible, let your accommodation know your plans for the day out and your expected time of return

The Weather

The Scottish weather can be highly changeable and can change significantly within a very short time. Even on a clear and sunny day, the weather can catch many people out.  It is not unknown for snow to fall on the high mountain tops at any time of the year.  Check out the weather forecast before you go.

In times of heavy rain, rivers can rise rapidly and become impassable.

Planning

You should consider your own fitness, experience and where appropriate ability to navigate when deciding on any activity to participate in.  And remember to keep a close eye on the weather.

What to Take

Many of the walks listed here are fairly short and within a close distance to the villages in the area. Some however are further into the wilds of the highlands, and so it is important that you carefully consider what you take with you.

Clothing – As the weather can change rapidly, a waterproof jacket and trousers are essential.  You should also carry hat, gloves and a warm layer such as a fleece.  If you venture high up on the mountains the temperature will get colder.

Your footwear should be appropriate to the activities you are planning on participating in.  Whilst some walks may have purpose built paths, others may be over undulating terrain and a hillwalking boot with good grip will be more appropriate

To help you navigate to should always carry a compass and a map.  More importantly you should know how to use them

There are some items of emergency equipment that you should also seriously consider taking if venturing out on some of the more remote walks, such as torch (essential in the winter months when the days are very short), whistle, first aid kit and ample food and drink

In an Emergency

In the event of an accident:

If you can, treat the injury yourself

establish your exact position

using your mobile, phone 999 and ask for the police (you should give them your position and the condition of the casualty.

If no mobile signal is available, leave somebody to look after the injured person (if possible) and descend to get help.

Lochaber Tick Information

The midges are a nuisance which we all curse.  The midges don’t leave any lasting effects on our bodies but up to 10% of summer ticks can cause Lyme disease unless we look for ticks and remove them properly.

Lyme disease is easily prevented and treated, with some common sense!

Q.   What is the problem with ticks in Scotland?

A.       The undergrowth in the countryside, from spring until autumn, is covered in tiny ticks which live on deer, rodents and ground nesting birds.  Up to 10% of ticks may carry bacteria in the stomach of the tick which is  transferred to people and animals when the tick attaches itself and feeds off our blood.  If the tick is removed quickly and correctly there is no risk to health but there is a risk of developing Lyme disease if this is not done properly.  March to October are the at risk months in Scotland for ticks.

Q.   Does Lochaber have a particular problem with ticks or Lyme disease?

A.       No.  Lochaber is no worse for ticks than any other part of Scotland.  The ticks are also a problem in England in areas such as the New Forest.  They are also a problem throughout the whole of Northern Europe.

Q.   How can I stop getting tick bites?

A.       Stick to paths to avoid walking through undergrowth with your legs exposed.  Wear long trousers and tuck them into your socks.  Be extra vigilant if you are wearing shorts and sitting on the ground!

The ticks like groins, behind knees and armpits where you may not see them easily.  You may need to get someone else to check your body for ticks!

Q.   What do the ticks look like?

A.       Many people think of ticks as being quite big but this is because they are used to seeing balloon-like ticks on a dog or cat but they are in fact very small.  Unfed, the largest tick is a female who is about the size of a sesame seed (3mm) and is the same oval and flat shape.  After she has fed, she swells up to many times her original size (approx. 11mm).  Male ticks are a bit smaller and are about 2.5 mm.  Nymph ticks are even smaller pinhead or poppy seed size (1.5mm).  Newly hatched ticks (larvae) are the smallest and can be smaller than a poppy seed (approx. 0.5mm) and in fact to the naked eye the larvae look like specks of soot.

Ticks

 

 

 

 

There are 3 stages of the life-cycle: larva, nymph, and adult.

Q.   What should I do if I find a tick on myself or a child?

A.       Don’t panic!  Wait till you get home and calmly remove the tick with a tick removal tool.  Don’t attempt to remove it with your fingers.  Tweezers are ok if you get the base of the tick but the special tools are better. Don’t use Vaseline, cigarettes or alcohol.  Using fingers or tweezers risk squeezing the tick and actually injecting the Lyme disease bacteria into your blood.  A tick removal device is designed to get underneath the tick and lift it off safely.

Q.    What are tick removal devices and where do I get one?

A.       One type looks like a clear plastic credit card with a small magnifying glass.  The other type is a small plastic lever which looks a little bit like a claw hammer to remove nails.  They both cost about £5 and work well.  It is a good idea to have one in your first aid kit at home or in your rucksack.  They are available at the Visitor Centre in Glen Nevis, Highland Industrial Supplies, Harbro Farm Shop and some petrol stations. You can also get them on line.

www. tickcard.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.tickcard.co.uk
www.ticktwister.co.uk

Q.  Who should stock tick removal devices?

A.     Ideally all Lochaber outdoor shops, pharmacies and tourism businesses should display tick removal devices prominently from spring to autumn.

Q.   What is Lyme Disease?

A.      The bacteria transfers itself from the tick to a human host and causes a red skin rash.  Simple antibiotic treatment cures this early stage easily.  If        the rash goes unnoticed the bacteria can cause joint pains or nerve    problems which require stronger antibiotics to cure.

Q.    What does the rash look like?

A.        If you develop a rash after a tick bite make an appointment with your GP within a week.  The red rash from the tick bite spreads, sometimes like a target pattern to a red rash over a week.  It may spread across a whole thigh and become more faded over 4-6 weeks then disappear.

Rash

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q.    Is this a new problem?

A.      We think Lyme disease has been around for hundreds of years but there has been a definite increase over the past 5-10 years.  There are many theories on why this might be so but no reliable method of predicting ‘Lyme disease hot spots’ as it seems to vary from year to year between locations and within locations.

Q.    Will this not frighten off the tourists?

A.       No! This is Lochaber as the Outdoor Capital leading the way responsible use of the countryside.  Informed tourists will expect a knowledgeable tourist economy to provide advice and help!

Q.     Is it risky going into the countryside now?

A.        There are far more heath benefits from all of us going into and enjoying the countryside than any slight risk of tick bites.  If we deal with the ticks confidently and knowledgeably ticks ill be a ‘non-problem’!

Q.     Where can I get more information?

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Lyme-disease/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

http://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/

 

 

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