HE bought the island in 1938 and ran it as a sustainable community and repopulated it running a hugely successful business until he donated it to the nation more than 40 years ago.

Now John Lorne-Campbell, the former owner of Canna has delivered a final legacy to the local community after proceeds from a book written about his time on the island were used to help fund a new road more than 20 years after his death.

Author Ray Perman donated money from his book royalties for the Man Who Gave away his island to help raise the funds to build the first road on the neighbouring island of Sanday which has just eight residents.

Sanday is joined by a bridge to Canna - one of the Small Isles off the west coast - which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

The bridge can take vehicles but there is no road on Sanday.

Now planning permission has been lodged to build a new road after locals raised more than £32,000 to build the road and work is expected to begin shortly.

John Lorne-Campbell, the Laird of Canna, or ‘Fear Chanaidh’, to use the Gaelic term he preferred, was instrumental in replacing the crossing between the islands with a road bridge despite the island having no access for vehicles.

Now thanks in part to the donation made on his behalf, Sanday will finally get a 1.5 mile road which will allow the nine locals to get off when the tide is in.

Mr Perman said: "John was a great believer in repopulating the west Highland and islands and make it more accessible and able to sustain larger populations.

"He was also a pioneer and this project is one he would have supported had he still been alive. I felt there was no more fitting way to help than donating something on his behalf.

"John was pivotal in getting the road bridge put up in the first place as the previous crossings were unsuitable. When they upgraded the pier he persuaded the council to use the same firm and equipment to build the road bridge too.

"He was always upgrading the island and would have built the road if he could, but he wasn't a bottomless pit of money. I'm delighted the islanders can finally get one."

The Isle of Canna was presented by John Lorne Campbell to the National Trust for Scotland in 1981, together with his library, archives and sound recordings of long-forgotten Gaelic folk songs being sung in homes across the Hebrides.

He farmed the island for 40 years and turned into a haven for wildlife and his body is buried in woodlands on Canna that he planted during his spell as Laird. He died in 1996.

Sanday primary school serves the communities of both islands, and currently has three pupils.

A footbridge to the island was built in 1905 to allow pupils from Canna to reach the school regardless of the state of the tide but it was destroyed by storms in 2005, and replaced by a road bridge which was completed in April 2006.

However, when the tide is in, vehicle access is blocked and travel is only possible by foot or quad bike.

Locals will now build an access track so the community can get to and from their homes and businesses when the tide is in, which they believe will make a huge difference to the lives of islanders.

According to the group, it will enable islanders to travel freely from the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry pier on Canna to Sanday, carrying basic supplies such as shopping, fuel for heating and for getting back and forth to work.

It is also hoped that creating the track will encourage new people to settle on the island.

Resident Winnie Mackinnon, 55, said: "This new road will change our lives. No ordinary vehicles could use the track because of the clearance needed - they could only get around along the foreshore when the tide is out - which is about four hours a day.

"It will also open up crofting for farmers and tourism accommodation - which is desperately needed at the moment."

Canna, the westernmost of the Small Isles archipelago in the Inner Hebrides, is 4.5 miles long and one mile wide and is one of Scotland's most important seabird colonies, including sea eagles, golden eagles and puffins.

At its height in 1821, the population stood at 436 residents. Since the 1960s it has varied from 12 to 24.