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.

Railway travel

June 26th, 2004

TRAIN TRAVEL has always been the greatest fun, so when I had to go to Glasgow on business I didn't think twice about taking the train.

Leaving Montrose station we crossed the red brick viaduct and entered the Usan cutting which I believe is the only piece of single-track rail on the main east coast line between London and Inverness. Father told me that in the Second World War the Germans tried very hard to bomb it because it would have caused major disruption to our own war efforts.

I remember as a youngster the banks at the south end of the cutting, near the signal box, were always ablaze with wild flowers and colour in spring and summer. I suppose the old LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) company let everything grow wild, there was probably no need for them to do otherwise, and in the absence of chemical or other management Nature took its own course. It doesn't seem so colourful now, but that may very well be the sentimental fancy of advancing age!

Once in sight of the familiar sweep of Lunan Bay we passed tiny St Skea's churchyard (there is a Masonic Lodge in Montrose named after the saint), and the Elephant Rock which you don't see from the train. These are marvellous cliff-top walks which Father took my sister and me. Writing about them makes me wonder why I haven't gone back to them for such an age.

What makes train journeys so interesting is that the railway goes through countryside often hidden from the road, so much of what you see is new and unfamiliar. Looking at the backs of houses I probably know well from the front, I got quite confused trying to find familiar landmarks to get a fix on where we were.

St Skea, St Cyrus and the oddly named St Fink near Blairgowrie – what is known about them? Their names appeared on our landscape centuries ago, but what did they do to merit canonisation?

As I'm writing this week's piece the rain is bucketing down and it is decidedly unsummery. Macbeth who is a committed fair weather dog has crept into the kneehole of the desk and is sitting on my feet.

He and I have been walking in the neighbouring woods where Sheba enjoyed walking latterly, because they are flat and the going was easy for her. At the far end are remains of part of an embankment of the old Brechin to Edzell railway line. We were bumbling along, head in the clouds and enjoying the late afternoon sun, when a roe deer which was also enjoying the warm evening burst, almost on top of us, out of the tall undergrowth on the embankment.

I got such a fright I never even noticed whether it was a buck or a doe.