Our local Corran Ferry might be out of action for four-five weeks May-June.
It could play havoc with the tourist industry here, not to mention other businesses as we might all have to drive around Loch Eil to leave the peninsular.
The work must be done. A metal eating bacteria (!!!) is attacking the steel that supports the concrete slipway and it could fail.
Highland Council held a public meeting in the village school last week (we didn't know it was happening !) but the officials had remarkably few answers to people's questions regarding alternative arrangements.
They have timetabled the work so the ferry will be off from towards the end of May until early June. If (when?!) the programme slips, this could mean no ferry at the height of the tourist season.
With only £650,000 to spend, the work is timetabled for the best weather so it takes the least amount of time and saves Highland Council money. However, that timetable might cost local businesses more money. Had a cost / benefit analysis for the timing been done? Apparently not from what I've been told.
The alternative route around the loch involves an hour's drive on very small, single track roads.
Large logging lorries use the ferry. If two of them met while driving around the loch the road could easily be blocked.
Add in a caravan or two and the result could be chaos. There was apparently talk of setting up a vast one-way system for larger vehicles, following the route we recently cycled, all 80 miles of it. Some diversion!
There's talk of increasing the frequency of the small Camasnangaul passenger ferry, but there's very little parking where it berths so that's not an option for commuters to Fort William. So could a different passenger ferry be brought in to serve the Corran route, so people can leave cars on the Nether Lochaber side and use the bus this side? I don't know.
Astonishingly, this seems to be the first thing most people knew about the plans to cancel the lifeline service for several weeks. I'm told the ferry-workers didn't know. What's more, it was also a surprise to Sheil Busses, who run a service that uses the ferry. What alternative arrangements have been made for public transport? I don't know.
All I can find in this Press Release and a pile of council minutes. Who trawls through them on a routine basis?
Our solution is simple. That's when we'll take the campervan to Orkney and Shetland to go kayaking.