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.

Glen roadman

November 20th, 2004

BREATHING LIFE back into a job, which disappeared some twenty-odd years ago, has helped ensure that Glen Esk remains one of the busiest and best populated Scottish glens. At least six families, still in the glen, have lived and worked in it for two or more generations, representing a strand of continuity unlikely to be found in many other glens.

The primary school at Tarfside, and the Masonic Hall which doubles as the village hall, are just two of the focuses in the glen which have created that continuity which, I guess, influences people not to want to move away.

Three estates, Invermark, Millden and Gannochy, the farms and the Scottish Water works at Whitehillocks, all provide regular employment. And there's seasonal work at The Retreat, the folk museum which is undergoing an interesting facelift in preparation for next season.

So when they announced the reintroduction of the job of glen roadman there was a sense of welcome regeneration. It restored local services to the glen, delivered locally.

I had a most interesting conversation with David Elliott who was appointed to the job two years ago. Although not originally from the glen he has lived in it for ten years and has got to know it well.

There used to be three roadmen, or  lengthsmen' as they were also known, each responsible for a section of the glen roads.

David's responsibility extends from the ancient churchyard at Loch Lee almost to The Burn House at the foot of the glen.

Cleaning gullies and ditches to let water drain off the road, clearing up litter (which in a better world wouldn't be dropped in the first place), cutting the grass in the churchyards, and at the school and war memorial – the glen benefits from his regular attention.

As I expected, being out in the open all day and part of the countryside, means David is on the spot to observe the wildlife going about its daily business.

Watching an otter dragging a salmon out of the river. Seeing ospreys catch fish in Loch Lee. Spotting an eagle attacking a deer calf. Black cock and their strange courtship or lekking displays. The bellowing stags during their mating or rutting season.

David looks forward to the spring when the curlews and oystercatchers and peewits start to nest. He sees green woodpeckers, which must be at about their northernmost limit in Scotland. And he once came across a barn owl in a deserted cottage, roosting on the handle of an old  push' lawnmower.

It's easy to see why he loves his job. Most of us have to make special expeditions to get wildlife sightings like these, if we're lucky. They are all there on David's doorstep, and from the way he speaks about his job it's clear how much he appreciates the workplace which goes with it.