The Isle of Staffa is to be closed to the public for periods over the next year for urgent repairs. 

A new staircase up the side of Clamshell Cave, improved paths, and a new landing area are all among the plans for improvements to the uninhabited islet. 

Recent figures have shown that 100,000 people now visit the island each year, making the improvements necessary to relieve pressure on existing infrastructure. 

It will also make the area more accessible and safer for tourists. 

National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which is overseeing the works, said the project will be a “huge challenge”.

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.

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

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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.”