The Lorg Trail
by Pat Lloyd
The sky viewed from the motor home window gave promise of fine weather so we decided today would be our long ride, a circular route going up the Scaur water and back down the Water of Ken. The OS map showed it as Scar Water but the signposts had it as Scaur so I will stick with the locals.
We left the campsite at Penpont and turned left to take a narrow lane on the right signposted Sanquhar, this followed the Scaur Water and after about five miles crossed the river.
A short climb brought us to the left turn with a dead end sign which also advised us that a weak bridge was ahead. We then had fifteen miles of tarmac on a traffic free narrow lane up the lovely Scaur valley, surprisingly well populated with prosperous looking farms.
Late elevenses were taken leaning against the platform where in the past the milk kits would have been left for the creamery lorry. It kept us out of the wind which was still on the chilly side for June.
The tarmac ended at a gate across the road just past the last house of Polskeoch. The Southern Upland Way had been with us since the house of Polgown but now left to go slanting up the hillside. We had about another quarter of a mile on an unsurfaced road to where the track divided with the Long Distance Path going to the left. It is a good few years since we were here last but I remembered an open bothy at the side of the road, an ideal lunch spot, but it was no longer there. Our map showed the track going straight ahead into what was impenetrable forest, a walk to the right along a forestry track proved fruitless so it was to the left we went following the LDP sign. We needed to be careful as on a previous time we had missed the turn and ended up following the Shinnel Water wondering why nothing matched up with the map. I had not gone above a hundred yards when behold a signpost with three arms, two for the LDP and the other rather dilapidated one said Lorg, which was ours.
The track went through a break in the forest and in spite of the dry spring was extremely boggy, the front wheel of my bike disappeared up to the hub as I edged my way along a tree branch that some kind person had laid across the morass. There were signs that sometime a couple of bikes and a motor bike had used the path. Further on it would have been ridable as a deep layer of moss and pine needles covered the track but we were on our Airnimals and the skinny tyres just sank, in, so we had half a mile to walk before we left the forest at a fence at what seemed to be gate. This proved to be one of those ingenious affairs that slide along and can be eased apart so we did not have to lift the bikes over.
Once across a dried up stream we were onto the open hillside where a sign leaning against a post informed us that we were on the Lorg Trail. The track contoured across the sloping hillside above the Water of Ken only a small stream here near its source. The way was rather indistinct in places but a few finger posts kept us on course and it was only as we approached the farm of Lorg we went a bit wrong. A look at the map and we were too far over to the right so with help of a sheep track we headed over to a gap in the fence by a water trough.
We had another sliding fence and a sign for the Lorg trail pointing the way we had come and then we were on the farm road to Lorg over to the right. We kept left to where a substantial bridge crossed the Water of Ken.
It was long past lunch time so we sat on the kerb out of the wind where we were joined by an elderly man who was exercising two sheep dogs. He was the owner of Lorg which he said had not been lived in for forty years and was only used during the shearing but had electricity and telephone, needed in such an isolated place.
We had a mile of loose broken tarmac to where a small car park had two picnic tables and then had a magical ride on smooth tarmac with long freewheels to where the road met the B729.The valley was not as scenic as that of the Scaur but very pleasant. The signpost informed us that Moniave was ten miles away and another six at least to Penpont and a head wind but it was not as hard as expected.
We had a long freewheel into Moniave and called at the well stocked shop for bread and milk having resisted stopping at the organic tearoom before tackling the last six miles. We ended up with forty two miles on the computor. Not a lot of rough-stuff but superb scenery and traffic free roads.
The maps were OS 77 and 78