A row has erupted after a “technical problem” put the Corran Ferry in Lochaber out of action for a few days at the height of the tourist season.
A spokesman for Highland Council, which operates the ferry, confirmed that a breakdown in the steering caused it to “briefly touch rocks” beside the Nether Lochaber slip on Saturday at lunchtime.
He added: “Due to the professionalism and competency of the ferry team, no harm was done to people, property or environment. The ferry was brought alongside the slip, then cars and passengers offloaded and the ferry returned to its moorings for checks all by 1.05pm.”
Back-up ferry Maid of Glencoul is currently moored at the isle of Bute, waiting for a spare part, which means the lengthy road route is the only option.
And that prompted former leader of Highland Council, Dr Michael Foxely, a regular ferry user who lives near Ardgour, to express concerns over the situation.
He said: “Accidents happen and I want to applaud the professionalism of the ferry skipper and crew.
“However, the lack of the back-up ferry, being away at the height of the tourist season, is mismanagement by the council officials.
“Whilst Mull and Skye are bursting at the seams with tourists, Ardnamurchan and Morvern has now been effectively been closed to tourists.
“In recent years, Highland Council has massively raised the fares, despite the ferry being in profit.
“It is time for a low level, opening bridge as proposed in local development plans.
“Planning for this should be paid from the City Region deal.”
Andrew Baxter, Lead Councillor for Lochaber, responded: “If the back-up ferry has to go for repairs, there is nothing more we can do.
“If it needs repairing, it needs repairing. I don’t think that’s mismanagement. The back up ferry is away waiting for another part.
“There is no ideal time for either ferry to be fixed.
“The report I had on Saturday was that there wasn’t any obvious damage. However the MCA still has to do underwater inspections.”