Work is under way to allow visitors access once again to one of Scotland’s most famous sea caves.
The walkway into Fingal’s Cave, on the Inner Hebridean Island of Staffa, was closed early last year due to damage caused by winter storms.
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which owns the site, said work had now begun to repair the concrete path.
Materials needed to complete the project are currently en route to the uninhabited island.
The sea cave, formed from hexagonally jointed basalt columns, has been a popular attraction for more than 200 years, inspiring composers, artists and writers such as composer Felix Mendelsohn, artist J. M. W. Turner and author Sir Walter Scott.
Recently, visitors have been able to approach the iconic columns by boat but have been unable to disembark due to safety fears.
Emily Wilkins, NTS’s Ranger for Burg, Iona and Staffa, said yesterday: “The concrete pathway was damaged in a storm in January 2018, and we had to close it to visitors.
“We’ve been trying to find a solution ever since and the weather hasn’t been on our side.
“People can visit the cave by boat but we have warning signage at the broken walkway to advise them not to go beyond that point, and it looks like a building site at the moment.
“Shuttering is in place which needs to be filled up with concrete, dyed to look as much like the existing rock columns as possible.
“We’ve got the materials to Iona and we are just waiting for a break in the weather to get them over to Staffa.
“We’re hoping that will be in the next couple of days. The frame will be removed once the concrete is poured and set and the new walkway will be put over the top. We just need a fairly calm and dry day.”
Fingal’s Cave was named after the hero of an epic poem by 18th-century Scots poet-historian James Macpherson. It formed part of his Ossian cycle of poems.
In Irish mythology, the hero Fingal is known as Fionn mac Cumhaill, who built the causeway between Ireland and Scotland.
The dramatic colonnaded entrance inspired Mendelsohn’s Hebrides Overture, after he visited in 1829 and noted its remarkable echoes.
It was also a favourite of visitors including William Wordsworth, Sir Robert Peel, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Scott, who described the cave as being “one of the most extraordinary places I ever beheld”.