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.

Memories revisited

October 2nd, 2004

SALMON LEAPING up the turbulent waters of the River North Esk was the highlight of last week   I've seen the river level a lot higher when the force of water prevented the salmon from moving upriver, but they made good progress in the hour or so that we sat watching them.

It was the enduring struggle – an eternal one – of these wild fish to return to the fresh headwaters of their mother stream to spawn and produce future generations of the  king of fish'.

Macbeth and I had walked down the river, past the Rocks of Solitude, and sat on a rocky outcrop watching the peaty brown water. If you take a scramble off the track by the riverside and peer down from some of the high cliffy overhangs, they hide some black, silent pools.

It doesn't take much to stir the imagination   Cold, sinister, fathomless and home to who knows what kelpies and other water spirits   But there must be some kindly ones among them which make sure the salmon can continue their instinctive migration to the spawning beds.

I need to keep a constant eye on Macbeth because he has too little sense of the possible dangers   If he popped into the water I'd probably pick him up again somewhere about Marykirk.

As the salmon struggled up the rushing water I watched some of them nosing into the side of the bank   A salmon ladder was carved out of the rock in 1949, which enables the fish to avoid the worst force of the water when there is a big spate, and carry on upstream.

None seemed to need to rely on the ladder, and in the urge to get home they leapt into the heart of the cascade and disappeared on the next stage of their journey   There were some handsome fish of twelve and fifteen pounds, but even grilse of five or six pounds were undeterred.

It was a special hour because you can't arrange an experience like that to order.
The constant commotion of the water clears the mind of daily clutter   By the time Macbeth and I walked back up the river to the car I was ready to tilt at windmills!

We rounded a corner and surprised a red squirrel which shot up a nearby tree which leant out over the river   Higher and higher it climbed but with its well adapted claws there was no fear of it losing its grip and falling into the water.

The leaves aren't quite ready to fall and there was a good canopy to protect us from the sudden squally shower of rain which pixilated the surface of the wide, calm pools of the river above the narrow, blustering canyons we were leaving behind us.

A bunch of red carnations had been left at the riverside   Someone's poignant memory being revisited?

Written on Saturday, October 2nd, 2004 at 11:03 am for Weekly.