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.

Distant views

August 19th, 2006

FOOD FOR free from the countryside is one of life's fulfilling experiences. I was picking wild raspberries for a couple of days, which takes rather more effort than popping into the supermarket and lifting a couple of punnets off the shelf.

I'm sure there's a bit of the hunter/gatherer in most of us, and I always enjoy the satisfaction of  doing it myself'. The berries haven't been so good this year. The hot weather brought them on early and then they shrivelled with the lack of moisture.

It's best, of course, when the free harvest is on the doorstep. Otherwise you have to convince yourself that the cost of travelling miles to pick mushrooms on some distant hill is more than compensated for by the added taste of the wild article. But it's a welcome by-product for a man who has to walk two dogs daily.

Sadly, there's a downside. Macbeth creeps about the undergrowth picking up a hairy jumper of sticky willies. He comes home looking like something that ought to be buried. Then there's a battle royal to clean up his coat.

The views of Scotland's hills and bens are rightly famed the world over. But, often, less regard is given to our coastal views, and the distances that can be seen.

The Doyenne and I were having supper with friends whose house looks over St Cyrus. As dusk fell we watched Scurdie Ness lighthouse winking reassuringly to passing mariners, and got talking about the number of lights that could be seen from the front window.

Scurdie Ness, the Bell Rock, Fife Ness and then the Isle of May. In clear weather they can see the Bass Rock, but the lighthouse which sits on the south side of the Rock, is hidden from the north. And last of all Barns Ness lighthouse below Dunbar, although the light was discontinued in October 2005.

When conditions are right they can see the summit of The Cheviot, the principal mountain of the Cheviot range, ninety one miles away.

While holidaying with the family when they were young, in a farm cottage on a hillside above Cockburnspath (also below Dunbar), we realised what a chunk the estuary of the Firth of Forth takes out of the coastline, allowing one to see these amazing distances.

On a clear night looking north we would see everything in reverse. Barns Ness, fully commissioned at that time, and the Bass Rock light, because we were south-east of it. Then the Isle of May, Fife Ness, the Bell Rock and Scurdie Ness.

But the most surprising thing about the view from St Cyrus is that very occasionally, when the conditions and the atmospherics are perfect, a night-time glow can be seen in the furthest distance. It is said to be the lights of Newcastle – now that's a view!






  I lost all my e-mail records incoming and outgoing and am now trying to recover details of websites which have kindly put up a link to ‘Man with two dogs’ website   Can readers who know that there is a link from their own one, or an organisation to which they belong, please contact me on     and let me know their website name and address, and I can get my records back in order again   In anticipation, many thanks.

Written on Saturday, August 19th, 2006 at 6:13 am for Weekly.