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.

Bottleneck

November 3rd, 2007

LAST WEEK the Doyenne and I headed for a week's break on the west coast. We were blessed with near perfect weather – the Indian summer I wrote about a couple of weeks back   It wasn't an action packed holiday – just days out here and there, as they say in Aberdeen – but there was time to take the dogs longer walks than they likely would have got at home.  More...  

The dogs and I took ourselves off to walk down part of the Craignish peninsula   You can park the car beside the old jetty where they used to catch the ferry to Jura   Macbeth manages well despite his wee sawn-off legs   Sometimes he has to take the long way round obstacles Inka leaps over, but he's always game to go any place there are beckoning smells.
  

I found a comfy hollow in the heather beside the shore and lay there gazing across the sound.   I was looking at the gap between Jura and Scarba which is the famous Gulf of Corryvreckan, said to be the third largest whirlpool in the world.
  

To get to Ardmaddy Castle you come off the A816 from Oban to Lochgilphead, at Kilninver, and follow the single track road   Don't take the turning marked Seil Island and Easdale, just carry straight on   The castle sits at the head of a bay enclosed on its three inland sides by wooded cliffs, and the original parts are very old   The woodland walks and formal walled gardens are open to the public and although the best of the flowers were past, the colours of the trees and the sea and the sky made up for it  
  

The gardens are noted for the collections of rhododendrons and azaleas, and while Scotland's west coast benefits from the warming Gulf Stream we were nonetheless surprised to see some confused rhododendron bushes starting to flower   Local ravens serenaded us with deep throaty  kronks' as we nodded off in the sun.
  
Seil really is an island although it's not obvious from the average road atlas   At Clachan, the hump backed Bridge over the Atlantic crosses a narrow sea channel which is the Atlantic Ocean’s most easterly incursion into Scotland  and separates Seil from the mainland. You have the choice of driving to the ferry to Luing Island or, about halfway there, turn right and head west to Easdale Island.
  

In the 1960s my father owned a cottage on Easdale and he used to tell a wicked story about the ferryman who ran the ferry between Easdale and Seil   The ferryman liked a touch of whisky (Father was well disposed towards it too, I have to say) to keep out the chill sea airs. The easiest way to get rid of the empties was overboard and consequently the strip of water separating the two islands became known as the Crystal Causeway.

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‘Man with two dogs – a breath of fresh air from Scotland’ – the ideal, stocking filler size Christmas present (now in second printing)   Buy direct from the publishers

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Written on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 at 11:38 pm for Weekly.