Boulders and fallen trees lie on the Steall path. Photo: John Muir Trust

Boulders and fallen trees lie on the Steall path. Photo: John Muir Trust

Outdoor enthusiasts are being warned to stay away from a Highland footpath that was hit by a massive rockfall.

Work will begin on the Steall Gorge path in the shadow of Ben Nevis next week to remove unstable boulders and trees on and around the route.

The John Muir Trust, which owns the land which the path passes through, said during this work, debris and rocks could fall on to the path.

The Steall path, at the eastern end of Glen Nevis, will remain closed until 30 October.

A trust spokesperson said: “Fort William-based Thistle Access will start work on Monday 10 October to remove remaining rock and tree debris from the slopes above the footpath.

“They will assess the area before securing or removing any unstable objects.”

It said new signs have been put in place to warn of the danger while the work takes place.

Alison Austin, Nevis land manager at the John Muir Trust said: “It will be extremely dangerous to be on the path while the team at Thistle Access conduct the safety work above it.

“Our intention is to dislodge as few rocks as possible to limit further damage, but there is an increased likelihood of further debris falling onto the path while the operations take place.”

Once the safety operation is completed, another local contractor, Stonescape, will start a second phase of work repairing damage to the path itself. This is expected to begin in early November.

The path is popular with walkers and mountaineers heading past the Steall Falls. Photo: John Muir Trust

The path is popular with walkers and mountaineers heading past the Steall Falls. Photo: John Muir Trust

Ms Austin said: “When the safety work is finished we will have a path team from Stonescape on site immediately to repair damage. We will aim to re-open the path at this time, with public access maintained as far as possible while the repair phase of the work is underway.”

Tons of debris, including large boulders, fell from Meall Cumhann on to the path during the night of 13 September, felling and dislodging many trees and leaving some of the large rocks precariously perched above the route.

Meall Cumhann is a 698m (2,290ft) outlier of Ben Nevis, lying about 2km (1¼ miles) south-east of its summit.

A route bypassing the closed path is recommended by the trust only for experienced hillwalkers with a map and compass, as there is no path.

It entails heading to the col north of Meall Cumhann, Bealach Cumhann, and then dropping down into Coire Guibhsachan and following the burn downhill to the Steall ruins.

The trust said it was grateful to supporters of its Wild Ways path appeal whose generosity has enabled the estimated £30,000 repair works to be begun quickly. Anyone interested in supporting the work of the charity to maintain access to wild places can donate via its website.

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