Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Riverside walks

January 31st, 2004

SOME AFTERNOONS demand a good walk in the country. So we – the dogs and I, that is – bundled ourselves into the car and took ourselves off to the Rocks of Solitude.

The `Rocks of Solitude` is a walk along the upper bank of the River North Esk. I parked my car several miles up Glen Esk where there's room for a couple of cars to pull into the side of the road at the start of the walk; decanted dogs and started down-river to the Rocks.

A notice asks walkers with dogs to keep them under control. This is only fair to your own dogs, other people's dogs, and walkers enjoying the peace and beauty of our Angus countryside.

The first part of the walk looks down on broad, deep flowing pools, and the river was running full. So different from several walks in the summertime when the flow was reduced to less than half in some places.

We found a spot to sit and look, where the sun was warm and shining in our faces. So we sat and looked and I would have done so for long enough, just emptying my mind, but Macbeth was impatient to be on.

Soon the river narrows down to high-sided clefts where the water struggles and fights to force itself between the rocks. High cliffs topped with trees shade the light and you look down into dark, boiling pools. It would have been a lonely, solitary place before the walk was carved out of the riverbank.

The noise of the wind in the trees and of the water tumbling and grumbling on its way to the sea soon became quite hypnotic. Perhaps being born under Pisces attracts me to water, because sea, river or loch, it captivates me in every one of its moods.

The pathway leaves the riverside for a while and we walked beside banks of the inevitable rhododendrons with which every Scottish estate seems to have been planted at one time. In several months they'll come into flower and make a grand show.

I hoped to see an early salmon leaping in the sunshine on its way upriver to spawn, but no such luck. The only fish was the carved wooden salmon fixed on the side of the old stone pier which used to carry a footbridge across the river.

As we turned to go back to the car first one, then two friends, appeared, walking their dogs too. So the Rocks of Solitude weren't so solitary after all.

Is a fortnight a long time in the life of a snowdrop? Two weeks ago I mentioned we were still waiting for our first flowers to show. They're not exactly in profusion, but spring must be on its way because we have them in the garden and in the woods across the road.

Written on Saturday, January 31st, 2004 at 1:11 pm for Weekly.