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Access to Staffa limited over next year as urgent repairs carried out

Urgent repair works will begin on the Isle of Staffa next month (National Trust for Scotland/PA)
Urgent repair works will begin on the Isle of Staffa next month (National Trust for Scotland/PA)

The Isle of Staffa will be closed to the public for certain periods over the next year as urgent repairs are carried out from next month.

The scheduled improvements come amid a surge in tourists travelling to the uninhabited islet, which lies in the Inner Hebrides and is home to the national treasure Fingal’s Cave.

Recent figures show more than 100,000 people now visit the island each year.

Refurbishments are now required to make visiting the area more accessible and safer.

National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which is overseeing the works, said the project will be a “huge challenge” and will involve building a new staircase up the side of Clamshell Cave, a new landing area and improved paths.

Fingal's Cave
Fingal’s Cave on Staffa attracts thousands of tourists each year (Alamy/PA)

NTS said: “The existing access infrastructure on Staffa is in need of urgent improvement and repair.

“Visitor numbers to Staffa have risen dramatically in recent years and at times congestion on the staircase can be very problematic.”

Work on the pathways will begin in September, at the end of the seabird breeding season, but access to the island and Fingal’s Cave will remain open.

This is expected to last about four weeks, depending on weather conditions.

Public access to the island, including Fingal’s Cave, will then be closed when contractors move in to work on the landing area, which they hope to finish in early 2023.

After next year’s seabird breeding season, during which all building work will be paused, work will recommence with contractors building the staircase.

Staffa
The work will improve access to and safety on Staffa (Alamy/PA)

During this period, of which dates are not fully confirmed, access to the island, including Fingal’s Cave, will be prohibited to the public.

NTS said it hopes all works will be completed by spring 2024.

The trust’s statement added: “A construction project on an island in this location, with many complex factors to consider and work through, is a huge challenge.

“We’ve worked with our experts from within and out-with our charity to come up with a timeline that gives us the best chance to get the works completed with minimum disruption to wildlife and to people.

“With the many different elements to consider, our plans and timelines will need to be flexible and could change as the work proceeds.

“There will be times during some of the works that landing on Staffa won’t be possible.

“We’ll keep the local boat operators up to date with plans and will do all we can to limit restrictions.”