Walk 137 – River Ayr Way (Catrine to Sorn loop) – 4.6 miles

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Following the River Ayr Way along a pleasant woodland trail to Sorn, you will walk through the Catrine Voes and Woodlands Local Nature Reserve and past the historical Catrine Weir. Enjoy the view across to the majestic fourteenth century Sorn Castle, a bespoke wedding venue and home to the McIntyres. On reaching Sorn, cross the 'Auld Brig' before passing through part of the village and into the "Spooky Woods". The return route to Catrine is via Chapel Brae, a pleasant single track road.  It passes Catrine War Memorial, from which you will be rewarded with fine views down to the village. 

Print Dog-friendly walk (I would recommend returning to Sorn via the River Ayr Way rather than Chapel Brae to avoid the road section)

  Car park on corner of Wood Street, Catrine (KA5 6RJ) and at Sorn cemetery. No public transport between Catrine and Sorn.

River Ayr Way - Catrine to Sorn

WALK REPORT: 20th May 2017

I was pleasantly surprised by this walk! If you have read any of my other River Ayr Way reports you may be aware that I was somewhat disappointed by the Failford to Catrine section, having loved every part of the trail up until that point. This had been a big factor in it taking me so long to continue along the route; it had literally been months!  Having done zero research into the Catrine to Sorn section (apart from planning out the route on Viewranger) before setting off, my husband and I were completely oblivious to the fact that the Voes and Weir even existed! Not to mention the beauty of the woodland between the two villages!

The peaceful woodland between Catrine and Sorn

I was aware that we would be walking in the vicinity of Sorn Castle and had caught glimpses of it whilst driving through the area in the past. That brief encounter had impressed me enough that I wasted no time in asking Google to tell me more and I instantly fell in love over the internet <3 Going as far as to announce to my husband that if I could go back and do our wedding all over again I would choose a venue like that one. The route I had planned out for today returned to Catrine through the castle estate and I was really looking forward to getting up close to it and having a proper look. However once we were there the ‘Private, no access’ signs at the Gatehouse put us off and we decided on the Chapel Brae option to be on the safe side.

Sorn Castle seen from the edge of the woodland

Sorn appeared to be a nice village, a mixture of modern living and historical features. The kissing gates were certainly a surprise, I had never come across anything like it before! The gates quite literally ‘kiss’ when closed over!

Sorn’s ‘Auld Brig’
Lip carving on the kissing gates which lead to the Spooky Wood walk!

I hadn’t originally planned to do the Spooky Woods walk; I didn’t know of it’s existence. We were going to simply cross the Auld Brig and turn left along the main road and back to Catrine. As it would turn out though, Sorn has it’s own small network of paths, the Spooky Woods being one of them. I have no idea how this walk came to be given that name as there was no explanation given on the information board, nor can I find any online. If you know, do get in touch! I found it to be a very pleasant track, albeit with some curious features such as a giant purple foxglove hidden in the trees! Not quite sure what the purpose of it was but it certainly caught our attention. Towards the bottom of the woods we passed behind a gorgeous big cottage with the fattest sheep I have ever seen lounging on the garden grass…. I mean huge!

I loved how the grass and daisies were growing through this gravel footpath, clearly not used as often as others in the Spooky Woods.

Leaving the woods behind for the day and emerging onto the main road out of Sorn, the short walk along to the start of Chapel Brae was the least enjoyable section thanks to the absence of pavement and fairly heavy traffic flow. The view really opened up when we turned onto the single track road of Chapel Brae, and with only the occasional passing car we were free to meander happily down the hill to the War Memorial. From there we had intended on continuing down Chapel Brae however we found a shortcut down a set of steps which took us almost directly back to the car park. Result!

Chapel Brae
The village of Catrine seen from the War Memorial
Enjoying the sunshine – and the view – beneath Catrine War Memorial
Shortcut back into Catrine

Enjoying this walk as much as I did has left me itching to get back and finish the River Ayr Way trail! So far I have completed all the sections from Ayr to Sorn so only have the final 17 miles to Glenbuck to walk. Technically I believe I am doing the route in reverse so no doubt once I have finished it I will want to go back and do it the ‘right way’ too 😉

To read my other River Ayr Way walk reports click HERE

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