Carna Loch Sunart


Carna, the dinosaur island guarding Loch Sunart. A quick scramble to the top on a very wet and windy west coast day.

Scotislands Carna summit
Summit looking west to Oronsay and Mull




From the west Carna rises steeply up from loch Sunart with the distinctive dragons back skyline. The island is mostly Moine schist with mica schist intruding along the west coastline.

Scotislands Carna Shoreline
Shoreline with Nordic Fulmar at anchor

Wet and miserable west coast day

The day was wet and miserable. We had just spent three hours on the nearby island of Oronsay slogging our way the length of the island. There were two choices open to us. Back to the boat for a cup of tea or simply press on and climb Carna. The dragon had to be slayed so we decided to crack on with wet and the miserable option.

Approaching from the west Carna looks a brute of a climb.  The steep slope looked to be clad in heavy undergrowth of bracken. All of which was under trees and stumpy bushes. Looking higher above the trees the ground looked to be covered in heather. Each clump separated between knobbles of bare rock. Having been in head height bracken on Oronsay the thought of pushing our way through the jungle on Carna held little appeal. This was to be an up and down visit. We did not have time to fully explore Carna.  to do this we would need to visit the eastern shore where there are the houses and a landing jetty.

Nordic Fulmer at anchor

Nordic Fulmar lay at anchor at Dorlinn Bay by the nearby island Oronsay. We motored across Loch Teacuis to a small stone beach. The clearing broke the shoreline of rock and cliff. With the dinghy safely dragged up from the water we sighed and turned into the deep undergrowth.

Scotislands Carna vigitation undergrowth
Welcome to Carna

Steep climb

The rise was quite brutal. The best technique was to grab grass or bracken and haul ourselves up the side hill. Like so many of these outings to the hills and islands I adopted the customary position of six paces behind Willie.  This allowed him to work his route through gully, shoulder and outcrop. Eventually we emerged from the tree line to heather and thinning bracken. From there it was on hands on knees as we gained height on the steep incline. The last rise to the top was a scramble up bare rock to reach Cruachan Charna at 169 m.

Scotislands Carna summit
Summit looking west to Oronsay and Mull


Scotislands Carna looking to Risga
Summit looking north to Risga
Wet times Alan Rankin at a bleak summit

Quick summit stop

We topped out and as turned to enjoy the view we could see familiar grey rain clouds heading our way. The summit video and stills were hurriedly shot and then the rain hit. Willie was off like a shot heading back down the hill. I was not far behind him. The downhill technique was a mix of careful foot placement and sliding down grass and heather banks. We emerged on the shore-line some 50 meters from the dinghy, a damn fine job of ready reckoning by Willie.

Once back on the dinghy we shot back to Nordic Fulmar and the waiting hot tea and dry clothes.

Isle of Carna website

The Isle of Carna provides the ideal place to escape with family, friends or alone. This private Scottish island gives a chance to reconnect with yourself, others and our abundant native wildlife in peace and seclusion whilst supporting our conservation projects and the local community. The island has been owned by the Milward-Towers families since 1881 and offers a range of accommodation, walking and wildlife watching tours on land and afloat. For more information is available on the island website.