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.

Wee Dappin

December 3rd, 2005

THE WIDEOPEN (it's local adaptation used to be the  Wee Dappin') is the old road that cuts off from the A937 just north of Marykirk and crosses over the hill to Kirkside, just south of St Cyrus   It's well named, because it's rather bleak and wide open to the weather    

I started up the hill and four roe deer, which had come out of the woods, were grazing in the sun on the far side of the Burn of Balmakelly   One looked up briefly when I stopped to watch them, but they knew they were secure from any disturbance   I watched a buzzard being mobbed by two crows until it couldn't stand the aggravation any longer, and flew off.

On the summit of the hill is Hospital Shields Farm   My parents knew the farmer, whose name I'm sure was Pentland   I do remember he had a pocket watch that he would take out of his waistcoat pocket to let me hear it ticking.

The name and site suggests that there was a hospital where the farm is now, possibly run by monks who cared for fever victims well away from other habitations   A sort of local version of Soutra Aisle, the great mediaeval hospital built near the summit of Soutra Hill, on the road to Lauder.

It was a snappy, clear day and to the east the sun was bouncing off the sea opposite Montrose   Scurdie Ness lighthouse and the spire on St Cyrus Church poked skywards   Fishermen and mariners must have welcomed such prominent marks to steer by in the days before GPS.

Then past the splendidly named Gaupieshaugh   I had to consult my Jamieson's dictionary to find that  gaupie' was a term for a foolish person; or  wandered' as they might have called it then.

I turned back on the A92 towards the Lower Northwaterbridge and Montrose   Opposite the Stone of Morphie road end used to be the tiny station for Kinnaber Halt on the single line railway from Montrose to Johnshaven   There was a wooden gate on the roadside, down to the single platform, and if you wanted the train to stop you waved your hankie or tile hat to the driver.

I was a child when the railway line closed and I didn't get on the last journey the train made, but a lady called Lena, who helped my mother, took me on the last but one   I wonder if she remembers that?

The actual Stone of Morphie stands in the steading of the farm of that name, and is supposed to mark the grave of a Scots king killed in battle with the Vikings   There are stories that a human skeleton does indeed rest beneath it.

It was just a morning revisiting all sorts of places I've known since childhood    Remincing' as an old lady I knew, used to say!

Written on Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 at 7:26 am for Weekly.