Boat camping in Sunart

My Warrior 165 anchored amongst thick weed in the ancient hidden Viking harbour of Dun Ghallain ("Fort of the Storms") on Loch Sunart.
The ancient hidden Viking harbour of Dun Ghallain.

Almost two months had passed since Alcatraz last got some exercise, as one thing after another got in the way of a bit of fishing, until finally some decent weather and a free diary lined up for a few days.

My original plan was to head either to the far north of Scotland or to some very remote territory on the south coast of Mull, as the forecasts looked a bit on the breezy side. However this improved just enough to give a decent crack at Loch Sunart so it became a question of finding somewhere sheltered enough for an overnight stay in a northerly wind that was still forecast to be a force 5.

Looking towards Dun Ghallain, a natural harbour used for over 2000 years
Looking towards Dun Ghallain, a natural harbour used for over 2000 years

Fort of the Storms

Dun Ghallain (“Fort of the Storms”) is a highly sheltered little lagoon on the north side of Sunart between Laga Bay and Salen. Complete with Iron Age fort, it’s well hidden and sees few visitors. This superb little anchorage was used by the Vikings over 1000 years ago, but the more pressing question was – is there anywhere to pitch a tent? Past experience with Sunart’s stony shorelines and bogs made me wary as flat ground is quite rare. Dun Ghallain is no exception and nowhere stood out.

After a good bit of looking around I settled on a site on the outer edges of the lagoon where there was enough ground to pitch a tent between exposed rock edges. Fine for a bit of solo camping, but two would definitely be a crowd when it came to avoiding rocky lumps in the ground.

Leaving Dun Ghallain anchorage just after sunrise
Leaving Dun Ghallain anchorage just after sunrise

Given the history of the place you’d half-expect a ghost or two to show up but not even a stray deer wandered past and I’d a couple of uneventful nights. I’d been a bit worried by the amount of weed in the bay, coupled with some large rocks, but low water revealed Alcatraz safely surrounded by sand and water and it wasn’t difficult to extricate her from her mooring and out the channel into the loch.

Small spurdog
Wrestling a smallish spurdog

Fishing…

The fishing wasn’t great if I’m honest. I only had a few hours on Day 1 by the time I launched and set up camp, and it was basically dogfish. Day 2 was better after a slow start, with a mix of rays and a few spurs from Laga Bay, including one double of 13lb 6oz. More dogs and a couple of whiting added to the totals. Given that it was pretty windy for much of the day I couldn’t really complain as I headed back to feel my way in to Dun Ghallain as darkness fell. 

Small thornback ray
A small thornback ray

After breaking camp (and the ice off the tent), the last day gave a couple of conger to 17lbs 6oz and yet more dogs and whiting in a beautiful sunny day. So quality fish but slow fishing, and in line with my previous experience of Sunart.

Netting a small conger eel from my boat
Where possible I use a net to land conger
A typical conger eel from the Laga Bay area
A typical conger eel from the Laga Bay area
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