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.

From a great height

March 31st, 2007

GETTING UP in the morning is all too easy if you take the lift to the Top of the Tower Café situated on the top floor of the Tower Building, the central administration block of Dundee University's main campus on the Perth Road.

I was up there recently, on a sunny day, and the views in every direction are stunning. The city takes on a completely new character from above. To the north are the prominent peaks of Dundee Law and Balgay Hill. Surprisingly, I've never been to the top of the Law, but I've driven several times up to the Mills Observatory and Planetarium at the top of Balgay Hill.

Mr Mills' gift to the city provided his fellow Dundonians with what is now Britain's only full-time public observatory – and it's free to go into. Not all that far from the city centre, but insulated from the city noise by the woods round about it, it's also a quiet haven for walking.

Morgan Academy, which burnt down so spectacularly several years ago, was also a gift to Dundonians. It has been equally spectacularly rebuilt, and its tower dominates that part of the city's skyline.

You're close to the riverside at the Top of the Tower. Look down the river and there's Broughty Castle, which has guarded the sea lanes to the city for over five centuries.

It's another tall building to see the surrounding area from a new angle. The castle museum houses a fascinating collection from Dundee's whaling days. It may have been a cruel way to harvest the whale oil which contributed to the development of Dundee's jute industry, but the whalers who sailed from Scotland's whaling centre must have been conditioned by the harsh environment of their Arctic workplace.

Look up the river to the second Tay Railway Bridge, celebrated in the poem  An Address to the New Tay Bridge' by William Topaz McGonagall (what a future Mrs McGonagall must have dreamt of for her boy, to name him Topaz). Alongside the gentle curve of the bridge carrying the trains across to Fife are still the stumps of the original bridge which blew down that stormy December night in 1879.

The original Dundee pioneers who built their original turf huts so many centuries ago chose their site well. They'd have had no thought that their settlement would develop into the City of Discovery. South facing, protected from prevailing winds by hills to the back of it, river front facilities, the Botanic Garden, parks, ponds and green spaces dotted throughout for recreation, sharing nature and walking dogs. You're never far from the countryside in the middle of Dundee.

And if you want to see Dundee from a different perspective, the Top of the Tower Caf̩ is open to the public Рso pop up for a coffee or a salad lunch.

Written on Saturday, March 31st, 2007 at 10:11 am for Weekly.