Engineers have been called in to deal with a major breach of a canal embankment in northern Scotland.
Contractors are carrying out repair works after a weir six miles south of Fort Augustus was partially washed away following heavy rains.
A section of the Caledonian Canal – which allows vessels to travel through Scotland from the North Sea to the North Atlantic – may not reopen until late April.
A spokesperson for Scottish Canals said: “Unusually high water levels on Loch Oich, as a result of heavy rains and snow melt, have significantly undermined the weir at Cullochy and partially washed it away, causing a major breach of the canal embankment.”
A temporary dam will be created to reduce water loss from the loch.
“While the imperative is to stem the flow of water at the weir, this is no easy job,” said the spokesperson. “We had originally hoped to dam the flow of water at the weir itself but having investigated the site further, have decided to place large stone blocks in the water next to Aberchalder Bridge instead.
“We currently have contractors on site stabilising the towpath side of the weir and creating access points next to Aberchalder Bridge. This will enable excavators to get close to the canal and unload the rock into the water, which will then allow us to carry out the necessary repairs to the weir itself. Once the repairs are complete, the dam will need to be removed.”
The work could take weeks to complete, the body warned.
“This will mean that the Caledonian Canal at this location, and for sea-to-sea transits, could be closed to navigation until the end of April – although we will do all we can to carry out the work as quickly as possible in order to minimise the impact on our customers.
“Once the work to stem the flow of water has been carried out, we hope to be able to manage the repair works to the weir while the canal is operational.
“We have already moved a number of boats away from the site and informed our commercial operators and partners. We will continue to keep customers regularly informed of progress and will provide updates on our website and via our social media channels.”