CONTRACTORS are working to make safe a stretch of road in Argyll and Bute after a landslide saw  6000 tonnes of debris block it.

Argyll and Bute council officials say that a 200 metre section of the A816 which links Lochgilphead to Oban remains blocked after a landslide on Saturday - with some locals believing the extent of the fall will have it out of action for a month.

Specialist engineers have been on site near the Kintraw standing stone, six miles north of Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute.

They identified further unstable material on the hillside above, including a number of potentially unsafe boulders, some weighing in excess of 70 tonnes.

The local authority explained that remediation works will begin “following detailed assessment of the slope and boulders”.

The council said: “Works will start with removing or stabilising potentially unstable boulders to make the area safe for clearance works.

“Current estimates are that the road will remain closed for at least four weeks, subject to any further weather impacts. There is a diversion in place which is via the A83- A819 – 85 or vice versa.”

One local described it as a "massive landslide with thousands of tons of mud and bus sized rocks".

"It may take weeks to clear it. So the area is cut off from the south," he said.

The Herald:  Credit: Oban Mountain Rescue

The Oban Mountain Rescue team were on hand to investigate while cars were seen engulfed in the rubble.

Firefighter Barry Niall Cameron from Lochgilphead said: "This isn’t going to be a quick job. This is another Rest and be Thankful. Unfortunately months or years to put right then constant work on the hillside thereafter."

Some have said there is confusion as the road is not the responsibility of the Transport Scotland-appointed maintenance contractor BEAR Scotland but the council.

One tour bus was seen trying to drive up the  nearby Bealach and had to reverse all the way back down.

One Craignish community group said the immediate concern was for the care for the vulnerable and elderly because of the lack of transport links.

They have warned residents that ambulances will have to come from Oban so response times "will be longer".

A 61-mile diversion route via Inveraray has been in place.

A local authority spokesman  said: “We’ve carried out initial inspections and assessment and are working through engineering options for the next steps.

“There appear to be a number of potentially unsafe and or dangerous boulders between 10 and 20 tonnes on the hillside which we need to made safe, as well as clearing the significant tonnage of debris on the road, which is estimated to be around 5, 000 tonnes.

The Herald: Credit: Oban Mountain Rescue

“Some people have been out climbing the adjacent hillside to take photos – please keep clear of the area for your own safety.”

It came as new concerns surfaced over the A83, Scotland's most notorious road after it was confirmed that 50% more debris has fallen on it from Saturday's landslips than the accident that sparked urgent calls for action.

Road maintenance contract BEAR Scotland's analysis of the amount of debris that has fallen onto the A83 has risen from 2,000 tonnes on Sunday to at least 9,500 tonnes.

Fears over the road hit fresh heights on August 4, 2020, when some 6,000 tonnes of debris cascaded onto the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful, at least 3,500 tonnes less than the latest episode.

Campaigners have said they have been warned by Transport Scotland officials that there was 100,000 tonnes of unstable material on the hillside above the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful just before the latest landslides which they say shows more needed to be done to ensure the safety of those using the road.

Seven landslips hit the A83 on Saturday, one of which hit the Rest, while the rest occurred between two and four miles north and west of where a planned £470m debris shelter is due to be built on the notorious Rest stretch of road as a key long-term measure to protect the road.