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

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Catrine Weir

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 historic 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.

route-image  Route From the car park on Wood Street in Catrine, head North East along Wood Street then turn left onto Ayr Street, following the River Ayr along for 160m to a fork. Turn left (North East) and walk along St Cuthbert’s Street. At the end of the first terrace of houses 200m along, cross the bridge on your right (South) then turn left (East) to enter Catrine Voes and Woodlands Local Nature Reserve. At the end of the footpath continue straight ahead to cross a small car park then turn right (East) to cross a bridge over the River Ayr. After crossing the bridge turn left (North West) to pass Catrine Weir. The footpath then continues through a pleasant woodland with the River Ayr on your left-hand side to emerge onto a minor road after 1.7km. Turn left (North) and follow the road downhill for 300m to the Auld Brig in Sorn. Cross the bridge (North East) and turn right (East) onto B743/Main Street. Shortly after passing the Sorn Inn, (approx 600m) look for a residential lane on your left which leads North past a kids play area towards a wooden kissing gate on the hillside. Follow the gravel track as it zig zags uphill towards the “Spooky Woods”. After only 150m at a fork at the top of the hill keep left (West) onto a wider track. This pleasant woodland walk crosses a bridge after which you should continue ahead (North West) to emerge onto a minor road called Dalyearnoch Road. Turn left (West) to to arrive at the B743/Main Street beside Sorn Parish Church. Turn right (North) and take care walking along B743/Main Street for 830m, passing the entrance to Sorn Castle. Turn left (South West) onto the quieter, single track road – Chapel Brae. On reaching Catrine War Memorial approximately 1.7km down the road, move onto an earth track on your left-hand side which runs parallel to the road but passes through some trees. 100m along this path turn left (South East) to descend back into Catrine via a footpath and set of steps. Ignore a right turn about halfway down. On reaching the road turn right (South West) onto Ayr Street, and take the first turn on the left onto Wood Street. At the end of the road you will find the car park on Wood Street.

River Ayr Way - Catrine to Sorn

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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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13 thoughts on “Walk 137 – River Ayr Way (Catrine to Sorn loop) – 4.6 miles

  1. Lovely quiet interesting walk. Just right in this hot spell of weather with the dog. House, dog and hamster sitting in Cumnock and this site is helping make the most of our stay.


  2. Hi Nigel yes it’s a shame about that wee half mile of road isn’t it. You can’t really see round the corner and traffic can be coming fast. I’d agree with you best to return along the river path if you have children with you. That’s what I usually do. 4.6 miles sounds like a great distance with kids, what ages are they?


  3. A nice walk with the family.. 4.6 miles seems just to be our limit just now… I will definitely do this walk in part again, but after the spooky woods , I would go back the same way as we arrived and not do the full loop…. that small section of road was not enjoyable with 3 wee ones to manoeuvre…..

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  4. Brilliant, thank you. I’ll share that on some of the groups I’m in for families with disabled children.


  5. Great route thank you. Followed your advice for the dog friendly version and enjoyed lunch at Sorn Inn.
    For anyone who would find it helpful this route isn’t off-road buggy/3wheeler wheelchair suitable as there is a kissing gate and horse(?) gate along the way


  6. Hi Grant, thanks for your comment! So great to hear that you enjoyed your walk today with your family. It is definitely one of my favourite sections of the River Ayr Way as well, although I still have to finish it – maybe 2019 will be the year….. I have from Sorn to Glenbuck to do. Happy New Year to you :-)


  7. Having walked other parts of the River Ayr walk, this is now one of our favourite stretches and made a New Year’s morning walk very enjoyable for the kids and I! Many thanks!


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