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.

In a Scottish glen

October 7th, 2006

THE DOGS and I made a swift executive decision and took ourselves up Glen Esk to blow away the cobwebs and enjoy a bit of space. Walks have to take account of Inka's long legs and Macbeth's sawn-off short ones. I spend my time with one eye on Inka to make sure he's not bounding out of sight, and turning back to urge Macbeth to get a shift on!

It was warm and sunny – a perfect autumn day. The mood and character of the hills changed continually as the shadows of the clouds were chased across the brae faces. The bloom is off the heather and the bracken has died away to its winter crotal brown, but the browns and greens, and the grey of the rocks and scree take on new life when the sun breaks through the clouds again.

A handsome carving of an osprey, carrying a large trout in its talon, has been erected by the side of the road at Migvie. It marks the south-eastern boundary of the Cairngorm National Park. A ready availability of food in Loch Lee has attracted these birds to the district. If you are lucky you can see one sweeping down to the water and scooping out an unsuspecting fish for tea.

I stopped to have peer over the bridge at Dalbrack. After the terrific rains last weekend the water was dark and peaty, like Newcastle Brown Ale, broken with white rapids and fairly scooring through the narrow gorge beneath the bridge. The rise in water level will help the autumn run of salmon to make it to the headwaters, where they will spawn and produce new generations of the king of fish.

We walked up to the Scottish Water filtration plant at Whitehillocks. As we drove away we met half a dozen garrons and a foal, straggled across the road at the foot of Glen Effock. The shaggy-maned ponies are used to carry shot deer off the hill. As they had a sniff around the car a confident cock pheasant strolled unconcernedly around their legs making his way to only he knew where.

All up the glen there's still a terrific showing of rowans –  the sentinel rowan's scarlet flame' – as Montrose poet Helen B Cruickshank wrote. On the way home I took a turn up the Blackhills road and met gamekeeper Denis Caithness and his wife Joan, and passed the time of day with them.

The rejuvenated and rebuilt Retreat Museum has one of the best records of country and glen life, and has now got a lot of its exhibits back on show. It also has an excellent restaurant, so I stopped for a piping bowl of spicy carrot soup which calmed the raging pangs of hunger.

There's an awful lot to see and do, and think about, up a glen.

Written on Saturday, October 7th, 2006 at 9:41 am for Weekly.