A west coast castle hailed as the most picturesque in Scotland has been forced to close due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
Eilean Donan, near the village of Dornie and not far from Kyle of Lochalsh, normally welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
A popular wedding venue, the site is also a favourite with movie buffs after it was immortalised in the cult film Highlander.
But staff from the attraction announced on social media that, “with great sadness and regret”, they were immediately closing the ancient castle and accompanying take-awayt restaurant “until further notice”.
The message said: “Our gift shop and Eilean Donan Apartments will stay open for the time-being but will remain under review.
“We apologise for the inconvenience and any disappointment caused. It’s an incredibly difficult time.”
They later posted an update thanking people for the many messages of love and support received following the announcement.
The subsequent message said: “Every single member of the Eilean Donan team are fit, well and healthy thanks to the comprehensive systems and protocols we instigated three months ago.
“We’re closing simply because of the financial impacts of Covid-19, but the planning starts today for our eventual return in 2021.”
The castle is hailed as one of the most picturesque in Scotland, and is reckoned to be the “most photographed” structure of its kind in the world.
Prior to the pandemic, the attraction proved so popular that castle owner Conchra Charitable Trust lodged plans to extend the car parking facilities.
The extra site was required as an overflow to the castle during the peak tourist months to alleviate pressure at the busy site.
The 1986 cult film Highlander was still bringing visitors to Eilean Donan more than 30 years later.
The book A Kind of Magic: Making the Original Highlander was released earlier this year, and shed some light on its continued popularity.
Author and film expert Jonathan Melville told The Sunday Post that fans “have been turning up every year, some to get married, and some just run across that bridge shouting ‘MacLeod'”.
He added: “These places have become a focus for fans across the world, which is nice because they’re lovely places to go.”
Eilean Donan Castle was first built on a small island in Loch Duich in the early 13th Century as a defence measure to protect the lands of Kintail against the Vikings.
Since the castle’s restoration in the early 20th century, a footbridge has connected the island to the mainland.
Eilean Donan was a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan MacRae. The Mackenzies’ involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle’s destruction by government ships.
Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap’s 20th century reconstruction of the ruins produced the present buildings.