Walkway into island cave to stay shut amid safety worries

A walkway into one of Scotland’s most iconic caves remains closed for a second year amid safety fears.

Repairs to Fingal’s Cave, on Staffa, are due to get under way as soon as materials to repair a concrete path into the cave can be delivered to the uninhabited island, a spokeswoman for the National Trust for Scotland confirmed yesterday.

The cave, made up of unusual basalt columns, was brought to international fame by Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture – better known as Fingal’s Cave – written in 1829 after the composer visited the cave. The music was dedicated to King Frederick William IV of Prussia and was presented to him in 1932.

Up to 500 people a day visit the island at the height of the season, on private boat tours, many of whom have been disappointed that they can not enter the cave .

Staffa and Fingal’s Cave in Scotland

Amira Shan, who visited the island as part of a tour of Scotland, told the Press and Journal she was very disappointed she could not visit the caves, she said: “There have been a few things that we wanted to do when we were in Scotland – visiting Fingal’s Cave was one of the most important for me, as I learned to play this piece of music as a young child.

“I even brought my violin all the way from home to play in the cave – the acoustic is meant to be so wonderful.

Basalt rock formation inside Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa in the Treshnish Islands.

“To get to the island, and to find out that I would not be able to get inside was very disappointing. Surely it doesn’t take two seasons to fix a walk way into the cave.”

A spokeswoman for the National Trust for Scotland who manage the island said: “The works to the cave pathway are due to start as soon as possible, and we have made arrangements for the materials to be delivered to the island.

“The concrete pathway was damaged in the winter storms of 2017, and we closed it in the spring of 2018 when boats returned to visit the island.

“People have still been able to visit the cave and to go inside on one of the boats that go to the island.

A view of the prehistoric volcanic geological rock formations on the Scottish Island of Staffa

“We can not say how long the repair work will last, as it will be weather dependent.”

Colin Morrison, from tour company Turus Mara, said: “We and the other operators look forward to the completion of the works on the access to Fingal’s Cave which will hopefully happen soon.

“In the meantime, on many days, it is possible to take the boats right into the entrance giving an excellent view into the back of the cave.

“It is also only a short walk along the causeway to the entrance where visitors can still easily appreciate the breath taking grandeur of the place.

“And Staffa still has many puffins to commune with.”