Walk 185 – Cornish Hill & its Loch – 3.4 miles

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View upstream of a waterfall flowing from  Cornish Loch.
Looking towards Loch Cornish, with craggy Craigmasheenie (539m) in the background

A brilliant and fairly easy circular walk from the Stinchar Bridge to the top of Cornish Hill, returning via the secluded and peaceful Cornish Loch. A good path the whole way, boggy in places. Fantastic views on a clear day!

orange circle with white dog icon inside Dog-friendly route

Parking at Stinchar Bridge car park, Straiton to Bargrennan Road. No public transport to start point.

Route: From the car park return to the road (South) and cross over to pick up a footpath straight ahead marked ‘Cornish Hill Trail 5km’. This leads to a footbridge over the River Stinchar. Cross the bridge then turn left (South East). Follow the trail through the forest, gently uphill and out onto open moorland. After 2km of steady ascent you will arrive at Cornish Hill where I recommend taking the short de-tour to the summit by following a faint path to your left (North). Return to the path and turn left (North East) to begin a zig zag downhill to Cornish Loch. From here the footpath follows the Water of Girvan South down past a waterfall and across a bridge. With the Water of Girvan now on your left-hand side, follow the footpath steadily downhill. After 1.4km you will reach a crossroads with a wide gravel track. Continue straight ahead (North West) to emerge onto a minor road. Turn left (West) onto the road and it will lead you back to Stinchar Bridge car park 1km along.

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It was a great feeling being able to finally get around to a walk that had been stagnating on my to-do list for months (years!)  The weather forecast predicted a cold, crisp, blue sky kind of day and that seemed perfect for a bit of exploring. On arrival, there was a little more cloud cover than I had hoped and I began to wonder if leaving the waterproofs at home had been a bad move. 

From the moment I set eyes on the Stinchar falls I knew this was going to be a good walk! There had been significant rainfall in recent days which meant the cascade was sufficiently impressive! 

Stinchar Falls

Across the bridge and into the mossy forest we went. Beautiful! We spotted a couple of fairy doors near the bottom. Not sure whether there are more and we missed them or if there are only two….. 

One of two fairy doors we passed…. 
One of my favourite things…. a forest floor carpeted in vibrant green fluffy moss! 

As we emerged from the forest to open moorland, we could see that a lot of deforestation had taken place some time ago. I understand why this is done, but I can never avoid scowling at the ugliness left behind. “This must have been so pretty with all the trees” I’ll often say. There were also loads of uprooted trees; rows and rows of them. Must be a windy place! 

After walking for around an hour, we finally got our first glimpse of Cornish Hill. Certainly not as spectacular-looking as others I’ve seen, but the views around us were stunning! 

First glimpse of Cornish Hill as we emerged from the forest
Looking back towards Loch Braden

What a nice surprise to arrive at the summit to a view over Loch Cornish, the blue sky reflecting beautifully in the still water. Glad that we opted for the circular route, we headed down to the banks of the loch where we enjoyed some Wotsits next to someone’s discarded Halloween pumpkin. My friend reminded me that leaving them out in nature was what we were supposed to do…. Rather remote we thought, a fair distance to go to discard your pumpkin, surely somewhere more discreet would have sufficed?! Speaking of remote, discreet and discarding things….. at the very start of the walk we also came across someone’s discarded used condom. Lovely…. :-o 

Down by Loch Cornish…. discarded pumpkin visible to the left behind the tuft of grass! Otherwise, a beautifully remote, wild and tranquil spot. 

To the left of the above photo, a burn can be seen flowing from the loch. There is something that feels special about being at the source of a river: seeing it’s humble beginnings and knowing how it looks further downstream in all it’s wide and raging glory. This one was the Water of Girvan, which I had first experienced in Straiton whilst doing the Craigengower walk. On returning home and doing some research, I found out that Loch Cornish is in fact NOT the source of the Girvan….. the smaller ‘Loch Girvan Eye’ further south is it’s true start point. Damn! 

As we followed the Girvan downstream, we took some time to enjoy it’s many cascades before completing the circuit in perfect time to enjoy sunset from the car with a slice of rocky road! 

Other walks you might enjoy nearby: 

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11 thoughts on “Walk 185 – Cornish Hill & its Loch – 3.4 miles

  1. I agree, the ‘return leg’ is as disappointing as the outward leg is delightful (especially when the toadstools are in bloom). A circular walk is almost always preferable, but in this case I go past the loch as far as the footbridge and then turn around. (On one occasion the mist was such that I turned around even before reaching the summit.)

    How ridiculous that the car park was closed during lockdown. Where could one be safer than a deserted hillside?

    It is supposedly possible to walk from the Cornish Loch to Loch Doon. Maybe, one of these days…


  2. Another fabulous recommendation. I loved this walk, full of surprises. Forest, Loch, waterfalls, it had it all. And wonderful for my dogs, such freedom. We walked on a gloriously sunny Sunday in November and met only a handful of people. I’m guessing it’s busier in the summer. The only thing I’ll do differently next time (and there will definitely be a next time) is go anticlockwise. The road section at the end felt a bit of a slog. Better for me to do that first next time as I know the rest of the walk is glorious. Thank you so much for posting about it, a wonderful walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Did this today, though I walked the other way round (clockwise rather than anti-clockwise). Excellent walk, great views and not too strenuous but unfortunately the weather turned when I was halfway through and I got soaked! Definitely be doing this again when the weather is better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi there, the area around the loch is surrounded by hills but I am sure you could find a small pitch flat enough for a tent, if not directly next to the loch, somewhere near by. Hope you enjoy it, let me know how you get on! Lovely peaceful area for a wild camp!


  5. I’m considering this in the summer as a relatively easy trek with an overnight wild camp.
    Having not walked this before, is it practical to pitch near the loch and do the return leg the following day?


  6. Hi Kathleen its such a great trail isn’t it! Hard to believe you are in Ayrshire. Perhaps I should stop promoting it to keep it calm and peaceful 🤔 haha. Thanks so much for your comment. Happy exploring!


  7. Did this walk today on a beautiful sunny April day. The walk was glorious and so peaceful and quiet (except from our puffing now and then going up the hill). Would recommend the walk to everyone the views are amazing. Just make sure you have sturdy boots on as the paths can be a bit rocky.


  8. Hi Grant, if you aren’t already doing so you should get into writing: your comments are always so beautifully descriptive! What great weather you got for the Cornish Hill walk, a gorgeous part of the country! Thanks for sharing your experience.


  9. On a beautifully clear, fresh early spring morning, this quickly turned into my favourite “Gillian’s Walk” yet, and the kids and I have now been on a fair few! The view from Cornish Hill was spectacular. With barely a cloud in the sky, you could literally see for miles! The lovely descent down to the loch followed by the meandering forest path over bridges rounded off a walk that the kids are still talking about at bedtime!


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