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21 Feb 2023

Access to Staffa in 2023 and 2024

Island with grey stone columns, in a blue sea
Staffa NNR
Our project to update the visitor infrastructure on Staffa National Nature Reserve continues in 2023 and 2024.

We’re replacing and improving the main visitor infrastructure on Staffa to protect the island’s many special features and to help ensure that visitors have an enjoyable and memorable experience. To ease congestion, the jetty is to be widened and the staircase replaced and improved to help the flow of visitors.

We aim to keep disruption to visitors and disturbance to wildlife to an absolute minimum. We have planned the timing of the main construction work to take place outside the bird breeding season and avoiding the busiest times of year for visitors. It is a complex project which is very dependent on being achieved during good weather conditions. Please be aware that at times we may have to undertake work at short notice and some areas of the island may be inaccessible.

Please check this page for any updates.

A view of a cave on an island seen from the sea. The entrance is surrounded by giant stone columns, rising to the top of the island. White breakers lap the entrance.
Repairs are planned for the entrance to Fingal’s Cave in spring 2023.

The project

Staffa has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland since 1986. It’s a world-famous National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and sits in the centre of the Loch na Keal, Isle of Mull National Scenic Area. The sea around Staffa is also a Marine Protected Area and a Special Area of Conservation. The wildlife, geology and dramatic scenery attract around 100,000 visitors every year.

Visitor numbers to the island have risen dramatically in recent years, and at times congestion on the staircase can cause problems. In September 2022, work to address erosion and improve footpaths on the top of the island was carried out in time for the visitor season this year. Earlier this year (2023), significant repairs took place in Fingal’s Cave.

We expect to start the works to expand the waiting area on the jetty and the staircase in 2024.

An artist's impression of proposed changes to infrastructure on the island of Staffa, showing a set of stone steps leading towards some cliffs.
In 2024, we will improve the staircase on the island.

The challenges

Carrying out a construction project on a remote island, with many complex factors to consider, is a huge challenge. We’ve worked with experts from within and outwith the National Trust for Scotland to come up with a plan that gives us the best chance to get the works completed with minimal disruption to wildlife, visitors and local businesses. With many different elements to co-ordinate, our plans and timelines need to be flexible and could change as the work proceeds.

Another challenge for our charity is covering the cost of a project of this scale. We’ve secured support from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF), administered by Argyll and Bute Council, who are generously contributing to the first phase of the work on the landing jetty. We are also fundraising to try to cover the costs of this very challenging project – donations are always extremely welcome.

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Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone

This Staffa project is part of our 10-year strategy: Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone. It fits with all three pillars of our activity – conservation, engagement and sustainability.

Please keep an eye on our website for more news.

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