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.

Perthshire break in Black Watch country

July 23rd, 2005

GENERAL WADE facetiously nicknamed his red coated road-making soldiers, his  highwaymen'. His road building programme undertaken after the 1715 Rebellion or Uprising (depending which side of the historical fence you sit) led by the Old Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie's father, speeded up the eventual English domination of the Highlands.

Last weekend was spent with kind friends who live a stone's throw from the Old Bridge of Tilt, where it crosses the River Tilt upriver from  new' Bridge of Tilt. This portion of the road and the bridge, are part of the original road north to Inverness built by Wade's highwaymen.

History breathed down our necks at every step. Bonnie Dundee, or Bluidy Clavers (depending which side of the historical fence you sit), won the Battle of Killiecrankie, but lost his life, on open ground above the steep sides of the River Garry, which the River Tilt joins at Blair Atholl several miles up from the battle site.

This is Black Watch country, where our local regiment, the gallant FortyTwa, was raised in 1739. Home, too, of the Atholl Highlanders, Britain's only private army, commanded by the Duke of Atholl.A poignant memorial is the stone at the head of Glen Tilt marking the spot where James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, raised the standard in 1644 on behalf of his sovereign, King Charles 1st.

The great Marquis is one of my historical heroes. He had the courage to change his mind in support of his king. HV Morton says it so well ” €¦ Montrose saw his duty clearly and, in his manner of fighting for it, stands head and shoulders above every man of action in the history of his country”.

Driving out of Glen Tilt, looking north to the Cairngorm National Nature Reserve, the views in every direction are quite stunning. There's nothing to break the vistas of mountain upon mountain; and Schiehallion, the fairy hill, rises above them all.

We visited Blair Castle's Hercules Garden, which appeared on the recent TV  Castle in the Country' series. Macbeth was pretty miffed at being put on a lead, for he likes nothing better than getting out and meeting people.

The garden fell into disrepair during the First World War when all the gardeners went to the fighting. It has been recreated to its former state from contemporary records and photos. Despite its size it needs only one full-time gardener, and one seasonal part-timer to maintain it.

Perthshire is rightly called  big tree country'. I believe it was the sixth Duke of Atholl who had his foresters fire cannon filled with seeds in order to plant trees on the most inaccessible cliff faces on the estate. Now they provide ideal habitat for red squirrels. I noticed that the fur of Atholl squirrels is a darker tan than the rufous red of our local ones.