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Lost From Laurieston.

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Not having had a holiday since the pre-Covid days – I'm not counting the sprint to Sweden a year ago to collect the car, which had been abandoned there several months earlier, as a holiday – Mrs. Bygone Boozer and I booked a self-catering cottage in Dumfries & Galloway for a week. Some pedalling through some different lanes and some sampling of some different local brews are bound to raise the spirits a bit. The spirits were also raised by the weather forecast. Very little of the wet stuff was predicted to fall from the heavens.

As usual before trips with the bikes we had spent an hour or so studying maps of the area, planning potential routes – Mrs. BB, and looking for potential bygone boozers – not Mrs. BB. One of the possible rides passed through Laurieston. Our 1:50000 map showed a pub in the village and this old 25" one named it as the Laurie Arms.

The Laurie, or sometimes Lawrie, family used to own several tracts of land locally, around Laurieston and Haugh of Orr – where there is another, still operating, Laurie Arms. This one, as you've probably guessed isn't, although it was still serving in 2007 when Darrin Antrobus took the shot below.

Visiting the lost Laurie was one aim of this ride. The other was to see if the Loch Ken Viaduct, which used to carry the former Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Joint Railway across Loch Ken, was a possible place to cross the loch. If, as is the case with many former railways routes, it was in use for walkers and cyclists it would open up a number of other possible routes for us.

Heading south along the A713 with a very helpful tailwind we soon arrived in the vicinity of the Loch Ken Holiday Park where the former railway made landfall on the eastern bank of the loch. We turned right onto a dirt road that was the former track bed and soon had an answer to our question as to whether it provided access to the western bank for cyclists.

That answer was a definite "No!"

Locks, spikes and anti-climb paint serve to discourage would-be travellers.

Oh well, back to the ride. Through Parton, where we didn't stop to see if James Clerk Maxwell has any of his equations carved on his headstone, and on to Townhead and the turning to Laurieston.

In 1837 the village had four boozers. Not one of them was the Laurie Arms. In all probability one was renamed at some point.

Extract from Pigot's 1837 directory.

In 1837 it had four, today it has none. The Laurie Arms closed around 2010 and was converted to residential use. In 2017 part of it was converted into a gallery and coffee shop.

Laurie Arms Laurieston
The former Laurie Arms in 2021.

So, no beer than. No coffee and cake either for the gallery was also closed. Not enough tourists in October, I suppose. Nothing for it but to head back north and put the kettle on ourselves.

The map extract is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under this license. Darrin Antrobus' and Billy McCrorie's images are reused under this one.

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