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.

Scottish mountains and mussels for lunch

October 30th, 2004

DOOM-LADEN predictions of dreadful weather, from the weather girls to the Editor of a prominent Dundee publication, greeted the announcement that we – the Doyenne and I, and Macbeth too – were going to the west coast for a week's holiday.

As we dropped down the hill to Loch Melfort we were dazzled by the brilliance of the sunset and smiled to ourselves, thinking –  red sky at night, Whitsons' delight'. However, I hadn't taken account of the long reach of editorial influence.

The following morning the heavens opened and chastised us for our presumption. It rained every day, but in fairness, there were welcome breaks in the weather when we got out for walks and drives in the car.

It's the time of the Scottish  fall' and the leaves on the trees are changing to their autumn colours. Hot reds, yellows, ochre and every shade of brown change the palette of the landscape. The crotal brown of dead bracken was everywhere and the burns were foaming full with the colour of dark beer.

We had a memorable drive on the little B road from Kilmelfort to Dalavich over a real switchback of a track on which every serious gradient is marked 1:6. One glorious view follows another and in the ten miles to Dalavich we met only one car. As we drove along Loch Awe back to Taynuilt and the coast, we saw the tops of Ben Cruachan and several other mountains covered in snow.

At the head of Loch Avich we stopped to walk along the sheltered Forestry Commission woodland trails. The river in spate from all the rainfall, cascading down the eight steps of the Falls of Avich, blotted out all the other woodland sounds. We only saw one other family, so if solitude is a priority, October in the west Highlands seems a good time to choose.

South of Loch Melfort and you're into Knapdale. The Inn at Tayvallich serves very delicious seafood and we both chose mussels as a starter for lunch – which was wise because the main course helping was absolutely enormous.

The Taynish peninsula behind the village is a very ancient part of Scotland and is now a national nature reserve. There have been oak woods here for more than 6000 years which probably predates man's settlement of the area.

You could spend a week walking in these woods alone, there is such diversity of wildlife and unusual plant life. In the time we had, we walked along shoreline, past bog and heath, and in the woods themselves which have grown quite naturally for centuries with little major management.

And there were endless new smells to delight a small, white dog.

So while the weather didn't really hold us back, I made up my mind that the next time we're going on holiday I'll steer well clear of editorial offices!

Written on Saturday, October 30th, 2004 at 9:34 am for Weekly.