Tick Fever

There has been a bit of coverage in the walking press this year warning us all about tick fever. There are various varieties of this disease and Lyme disease is the one most commonly quoted. If you walk through bracken or heather, ticks may attached themselves to you and this can lead to infection. Thankfully these incidents are relatively rare. Less coverage has been given to another variation of tick fever. This disease is little talked about, but it is arguably both more common and more serious. Certainly, the effects are much longer lasting. I refer to the tick fever which causes walkers to compulsively tick lists. In relatively mild cases the sufferer only has a problem with a single list, but it is sadly much more common after one list is completed another takes its place until the complaint is chronic. In reality at this stage it is a serious addiction which is very difficult to overcome.

I have to report that this is becoming a widespread problem and it is highly likely that there are members of the Derbyshire Dales Ramblers who are suffering from this condition. They will try to deny it or pretend that it is only a temporary problem, but sadly, this is usually just a fa├žade to conceal the severity of their addiction.

The first stage of the disease may seem very innocent, most people would not consider a list of Munros (this is a list of all the mountains in Scotland over 3,000ft) a hazard, but it is in fact a potentially serious and life changing addiction. Once it has taken hold this condition can last for many years. When the list is finished life becomes meaningless until another list takes its place, some people are so severely affected they have to repeat the list. The worrying thing is that these lists are found everywhere, in books, magazines, newspapers, you may be surprised to learn that there is no legal restriction on the production of lists and the materials to ‘grow your own’ are very easily obtained.

In the face of this I have come to the conclusion that it is hopeless to try and cure sufferers, all Derbyshire Dales members can do is to be aware of the condition and offer as much support as possible. This may not be as easy to do as you might think. Light-hearted banter and the appearance of not taking the endeavour seriously is often rejected and can even result in violence and strong language. The best approach is to humour them, praise their efforts and be understanding of the drain on household resources that list ticking activity can cause. Almost certainly there is a place for a local group of TFA, Tick Fever Anonymous. However, these groups, though providing vital support, are few in number as at the heart of the condition is the sufferer’s almost complete state of denial that there is in fact a problem.


There are certain symptoms to look out for which indicate that someone you know may be suffering from Tick Fever:

1. Apparently causal but repeated reference of new summits.

2. Innocence, seeming to detour from Group walks to visit certain features.

3 Certain words casually but repeatedly dropped in to the conversation, along with the assumption that you understand their meaning.

glossary of the most common of these is given below, both as a means of supporting sufferers and also as a warning – these words are dangerous.

MUNROS: Mountains in Scotland over 3,000ft. Often the first stage of the disease.

WAINWRIGHTS: The hills in the Lake District listed by Alfred Wainwright in his famous guide books. This is also a common first stage in walkers who live in England.

CORBETTS: Mountains in Scotland under 3,000ft but over 2,500ft

NUTTALLS: Hills in England and Wales over 2,00ft

MARILYNS: Any hill in the United Kingdom that has an overall ascent of 500ft.

TRIG POINTS: This is an indication of how desperate the situation is, there is a list of all trig points available on the internet.

Sue Weatherley


Derbyshire Dales Group