DRIVERS face a 42-mile detour after a short car ferry crossing in the Highlands was put out of action.

The Corran to Ardgour route, outside Fort William, usually allows vehicles to hop across the Corran Narrows rather than driving around Loch Eil.

Every year some 270,000 cars are taken to and from the Ardnamurchan peninsula by the service, Scotland's busiest single-vessel crossing.

The main vessel that serves the five-minute route, the MV Corran, has been out of action since last October and was due back in service in mid-August, after repeated delays.

The 22-year-old ferry’s route was instead being serviced by the smaller, 47-year-old MV Maid of Glencoul.

But now the relief vessel is also suffering problems and has been put out of action after a breakdown over the weekend.

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As such, only passengers will be taken on the crossing.

Highland Council said they hope to have the MV Corran back this month, but did not say when.

SNP councillor Ken Gowans said: "Everything possible has been done to maintain the Maid of Glencoul in service.

"However, the health and safety of all passengers and crew is our main priority and we need to be able to operate a safe and effective service.

"Whilst we appreciate this is a very disappointing setback for everyone concerned, we share the disappointment and the frustration."

Mary Ann Kennedy, a businesswoman living in Ardgour, told the BBC: "[The MV Maid of Glencoul] is there to be a back-up – she isn't there to be serving 16 hours a day, seven days a week."

The BBC reported that the Corran to Ardgour crossing is set to be replaced with a fixed crossing in the future.