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.

Go west, young man …

October 27th, 2007

EAST, WEST, hame's best. Montrose born and bred I'm always going to think east is best, but as far back as I can remember I have the fondest memories of holidays on the west coast.

The Doyenne shares my enthusiasm and this week's piece is about our journey across to Loch Melfort, sixteen miles below Oban. Because it's such a Highland place you think Oban must be in the far north-west, but draw a line coast to coast from Montrose and you'll find that Oban is the more southerly.

It's little wonder Scotland attracts visitors from all over the world when they can drive through so much scenery which may be equalled but will never be excelled. It's a particularly good autumn, or  fall' to use the American expression, and the colours of the leaves and the light on the hillsides have a promise that the best is yet to come.

It's a familiar journey down to Perth, then turning left and heading out west. Glen Turret Distillery, on the outskirts of Crieff, is celebrated (isn't every distillery!) as Scotland's oldest. It must surely mean it was the first to be licensed by the Customs and Excise. Drouthy Scots were distilling the cratur legally for several millennia until all the fun was taken away by having to pay tax so you could make or drink the divine spirit.

The stretch from Comrie to St Fillans runs through the upper strath of the River Earn. It's spectacular country – craggy mountain tops and wild hillsides, and the trees and dying bracken were kindled with gleams of sunshine slanting through grey clouds.

Driving along Loch Earn always brings back memories of weekends spent at the old Lochearnhead Hotel before it was destroyed by fire. The head of the loch marks the start of Glen Ogle and I've walked the glen's steep hills, and it was hard going. A few years on, and a few extra pounds on too, and I'm as happy enjoying them from the comfort of the car.

The Doyenne queried how Lix Toll got its name. I've discovered it is of Gaelic derivation meaning  place of flagstones'. Crianlarich, Tyndrum and then we were motoring along Loch Awe. “Rugged grandeur” is one of those overworked tourist descriptions but it really can be applied to the mountains, especially Ben Cruachan, that tower above the great expanse of the Awe water. Through dark sided Pass of Brander to the rushy Falls of Lora where Loch Etive meets the sea at Connel, and the next step is Oban.

The last miles to Melfort sped by. There's a glint of sea as we motored through the Pass of Melfort and we knew we were almost there. The dogs sensed it too and we all looked forward to a week with no telephone, few responsibilities, complete freedom and wonderful places to walk.

  

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“……. I now have a restored outlook on where we live.”

  

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