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.

Iron Age man and sunsets

January 22nd, 2005

IT WAS only a fortnight ago that I wrote about the Brown Caterthun, one of the two Iron Age forts which lie to the west of Brechin, but I make no apologies for writing so soon afterwards about the White one.

Grandson James was visiting last weekend and as Sunday afternoon was clear and sunny we decided a brisk walk up a hill would blow away the cobwebs.

The walk up the White Caterthun didn't prepare us for the weather conditions at the top of the hill. When we started from the car park we could feel the sun on our faces and the extra layers of clothing seemed excessive.

The pathway is mostly protected from the prevailing west wind, but the higher we climbed the more blustery and chilly it got. As we crested the hill the full force of a very wild wind hit us, and the hats and scarves were suddenly very sensible.

The innermost protective circle of the White Caterthun, right on the crown of the hill, is formed of rocks and boulders, many of which must have been collected from quite a distance. James and I discussed the difficulties of fetching and carrying such heavy building materials.

We reckoned the builders wouldn't have used horses and carts because Iron Age man wouldn't have developed a robust enough cart to do the job. In any event I wasn't sure whether Iron Age man used horses.

There aren't any really enormous boulders in the rampart, which suggests that everything was carried by hand, or maybe dragged up on sleds by brute manpower. We agreed that the time and effort of hauling all these building materials to the top of the hill must have meant the fortress was a very important place.

James identified outlines in the heather where he thought there had been buildings, and he was sure the deep depression on the west side would have been a well. He sympathised with the skin clad little people who must have had to endure far colder winter weather than last Sunday.

We took the long road home past the foot of Glen Lethnot and Edzell Castle. I stopped just below Blairno where a line of electricity pylons strides across the hills towards Kirriemuir. We all agreed they looked just like Roman legionnaires marching into the sunset.

Nearly home, and driving though Inchbare the setting sun was quite special. The sky was a colour wash of duck egg blue with streaks of dove grey and apricot pink. James wished his Mum and Dad could have been with us to share it.

Our nine year old grandson's imagination and enquiring mind recapture the pleasure and interest we experienced when our own family were that age. The Doyenne and I remember the importance of being handy to answer questions, discuss issues and ponder on unknowns.