I find nowadays that after a day on the hill I enjoy a “recovery wander” in the local area if I am away from home. I was at Arnisdale this weekend on Beinn Sgreathill and we had to be in Inverness to pick up my friends car from the garage in the late afternoon. In the old days I would have been up another hill next day but I am now appreciating other places to visit thanks to my friend Kalie who knows the West coast well.
Kalie loves this area as I do and we stopped near Glenelg for a wander at Sandaig.
From Walk Highlands “A short walk to visit the beautiful and atmospheric Sandaig bay. This peaceful spot was immortalised as Camusfearna in ‘Ring of Bright Water’ – the famous book by Gavin Maxwell telling of his life with his pet otters at this lonely spot.” It’s a stunning place with magical views a coral beach and some incredible history.
It’s a lovely wander down to the beach. There is a forestry track to follow it was sunny and let the legs recover from Saturdays efforts on the hill. We wandered slowly even Islay (the Collie) taking it easy in the sun. The views opened out and we were passed by a couple cycling on the forest track and later on. Family heading down to the beach.
We had lunch by the sea it was so peaceful (no others though) and a couple of boats came in to visit the Islands. The tide was in so we could not walk across to the islands yet it was perfect there. The Views of the Loch and the peace just the water and where we sat down only a few folk.
What a place to write a book Gavin Maxwell had picked a perfect spot. I was given his book as a young lad and loved it I have reordered it and it will be great to re read this classic . I must go back again soon and spend more time and take it all in.
Coming back uphill helped stretch the legs we followed the old path. Lots of memories for Kalie. The ferns were high at the start and I had a few ticks when I got home and we were soon back on the forestry track.
Kalie had many tales of the local area and the people the characters some who knew Gavin Maxwell all these years ago. She also loves otters and wild life and it was great listening to her stories.
We headed back over the Rattagan pass had great views saw few cars or people. The views of the 5 sisters from the high point always excites me.
We were soon on the road home the road was busy with constant traffic going to Skye (it must be full) Our journey back was great even Loch Ness was not busy and we were soon in Inverness back to the real world .
Today’s tips : lots of ticks about be careful and it was very warm so dehydration can really effect you. Carry lots of fluid and be aware of ticks .
Ticks – Mountaineering Scotland advice
Although ticks were once regarded as nothing more than a bloodthirsty nuisance, increasing awareness of Lyme Disease and its potentially long-lasting effects means people are more concerned about ticks, how to avoid them, and how best to deal with them.
What are ticks?
The tick is an invertebrate related to spiders. There are over twenty species in Britain related to various different mammal or bird hosts. They carry a number of diseases, the most well known of which is Lyme disease.
They can be found all across Scotland and particularly in the wetter west, in woodlands, moorlands and long grass.
Scientists recorded more than 800,000 ticks in just a short stretch of thick vegetation at the side of a path. They are active all through the year, but particularly in summer.
- The tick has three life stages: larva, nymph and adult, taking between one and three years to complete a life-cycle. Each stage requires a single blood meal to grow. It is when they are feeding that ticks can pass on infections and bacteria.
- Both larval and nymph stages of the ‘sheep tick’, the most common species found in Scotland, are the ones most commonly encountered by walkers. They climb to the top of foliage and attach to passing animals, generally small mammals, but they will also feed on humans if they get the chance. Climbers on sea cliffs can be at risk of encountering tick species, like the ‘seabird tick’ too.
- The tick’s bite is painless and some ticks can be as small as a poppy seed or spec of dirt, so it can be easy to overlook them. A tick will generally remain attached until it is gorged with blood, increasing greatly in size, before dropping off. This can take between a few days and 2 weeks.
Top tips for avoiding ticks
When you are out and about in the hills try to:
- Avoid walking through long grass and areas of thick foliage – consider keeping to paths and tracks in heavily infested areas.
- Leave no exposed skin on your legs, feet, ankles or arms – wear long sleeves, tuck trousers into your socks or wear gaiters, choose fabric which is thickly woven.
- Spray insect repellent on clothing and socks.
- Wear light-coloured clothing so you can see the dark ticks and remove them – inspect clothing often to remove the ticks.
- Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks when you get home, especially your hairline, navel, groin, arm pits, between toes, behind the ears and knees.
How to remove a tick…
Firstly, don’t panic if you find an embedded tick – it’s most likely that it’s not infected, and if you remove it within 24 hours it is unlikely to have passed on the bacteria.
- The most reliable method of removing a tick without leaving any remnants in your skin is to purchase a tick hook.
- Tick hooks come in different sizes for different sizes of tick and only cost a few pounds – they also come with instructions for safe removal. Essential kit for outdoorsy people (use your membership card to get a discount at these outdoor shops).
- Don’t use a lighted cigarette or match or essential oils to encourage the tick to fall off and don’t squeeze the tick (especially one that is engorged with blood) as this will inject the fluid in the tick back into your body.
Lyme disease – what is it?
Early treatment with antibiotics is required in order to be effective in lessening the short-term symptoms and the long-term complications. Full recovery is possible, but treatment in the later stages of infection is more difficult and relapses are common.
After several months of being infected, about ½ of those treated with antibiotics develop recurrent attacks of painful and swollen joints (arthritis) that last from a few days to a few months. The arthritis can shift from joint to joint, the knee being most commonly affected. About 10-20% of infected patients will develop chronic arthritis.
Research indicates that the variant found in Scotland is different to that found elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish variant seems to cause more neurological problems with symptoms ranging from stiff neck, severe headache, meningitis, temporary paralysis of the facial muscles (Bell’s Palsy), numbness and poor motor coordination.
This extract from the Mountaineering Scotland Hill Walking Essentials DVD has good advice on avoiding and removing ticks: