The return of the main vessel on a popular Highland ferry route has been delayed until April.
The Corran Ferry service is the busiest single-vessel ferry route in the country, but its return to Lochaber has been delayed since January.
The MV Corran will have been out of service for six months by the time it is expected to return to the area.
It carries more than 270,000 cars across Loch Linnhe each year and without it, drivers are forced to follow diversions of up to 86 miles.
The issue with the 23-year-old ferry will affect those living in Ardgour, Sunart, Ardnamurchan, Morar, Moidart, Morvern, the Isle of Mull and Fort William who use the boat regularly.
The five-minute crossing is currently being serviced by MV Maid of Glencoul, a smaller, older ferry.
Highland Council, which owns and operates Corran Ferry, said the delay is due to an issue with the vessel’s propulsion system.
A spokeswoman said: “It was a longer MV Corran refit this year, taking until January, largely due to extensive rebuilding of her 23-year-old ramps, specifically the one that lands on the Nether Lochaber side and experiences more wear due to the harsher weather conditions on that side of the narrows.”
The spokeswoman added: “We are optimistic that the MV Corran will be back in service early April.
“If there are any further delays, the council will give an update as soon as possible with any necessary plans for contingency.”
Jeff Forrester, who heads the Corran Narrows campaign, said locals are concerned about the state of the ferries in the area ahead of the busy tourist season.
Last month, the Scottish Parliament’s transport committee warned the ferry service is at breaking point.
MSPs were told the two vessels servicing the area must be replaced within the next three to four years.
The council plans to replace the ageing boats with new electric ferries but it will have to find £62m to pay for them.
Proposals to replace the ferry crossing with a bridge or tunnel are also under consideration.
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