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.

Historical walks

April 3rd, 2004

THE DOYENNE can be pretty eagle-eyed at times, usually when it's least convenient for me! She was in the middle of a meaningful telephone conversation with a friend recently when she broke off to say – “a wren has just flown out of the old swallows nest”.

I watched the nest for a couple of minutes, and sure enough, the wren returned with a beakful of moss and disappeared into the nest which swallows built last year in the eaves of the porch.

Both birds were busy bringing material to convert the big nest into a bijou residence for smaller lodgers. They have narrowed the entrance and lined the inside mostly with dry moss and grasses. It'll be interesting to see if the swallows return this year and start another nest.

I took my promised walk to the Brown Caterthun, and by luck chose a lovely mild morning. The clouds were high and the sun warm, and it just was great to be out. The views from both the white and brown Caterthun are stunning, and as neither is a hard walk they are ideal outings for small walkers.

When I got to the top I tried to get a fix on the house, but as it is quite wooded round about I couldn’t see it with the naked eye. However smoke from a neighbour's bonfire which he was just starting as I left home, helped me pinpoint it.

An enormous Wellingtonia towering above fir trees helped to locate Lundie Castle. I could just see the ridge of the roof, and its flagpole which was flying a Saltire

 Fleg' is a scarce used Scots word for a  fright', and I got a right one when I all but trod on a grouse in the heather, which erupted like a rocket from under my feet.

Easier on the nerves were the skylarks. One rose into the sky and hung there singing its heart out, and that was the signal for half a dozen more to join in. I stood in the sunshine, hingin' over a gate, and listened. The poet Shelley wrote of their song as  a rain of melody', and that's just how it was. I was showered with their tunes.

The Caterthuns were constructed up to 4500 years ago, so it's difficult to be precise about their purpose. I believe that being so well sited geographically on the top of hills with tremendous fields of vision, there are at least in part, military and defensive explanations for them.

Blue painted wee Scotchmen without JCBs, picks or shovels, horses or wheels built these impressive hill forts, effectively with their bare hands. As they are several acres in size they are extraordinary feats of human endeavour. Their builders must have understood more than just basic engineering skills and have had well developed concepts of strategic planning.