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.

High road to the south

February 2nd, 2008

MY FATHER was a great one for taking the side roads to get to wherever he was going. He said it meant driving more slowly and he had more time to look at what was going on. So when I wanted to drive from Edzell to Kirriemuir I didn't hesitate to choose the country route which, as it turns out, is far shorter than going by the main roads.

I drove out of the village on Dunlappie Road, over the Dalhousie Bridge and turned right at the junction and headed for Menmuir. The road rises and soon you're driving along the shoulder of the hill. To the left and east you look across the broad strath over Brechin, and Father claimed that on a bright day he could see the steeple of Montrose's Auld Kirk, something I've always rather doubted.

I stopped on the crest of the hill, overlooking Balnamoon steading (Bonnymoon, it's pronounced locally). The view south is wonderful and you can see the top of Craigowl, one of the Sidlaw Hills which protect Dundee from the prevailing wind and the weather from the west.

I should have paid attention to the notice that said that the road ahead was closed – because it really was – at Tigerton, and I decided to abandon my visit to Kirrie and take the dogs a walk instead. I found a track leading to a stand of trees which marked the foot of the White Caterthun.

Tucked away in a hollow we came across a silhouette of a roe deer made out of cast iron and standing side-on to the path. It's meant to represent a roe buck because the blacksmith had cut out the prongs or short horns which identified it. Stalkers out culling the deer use it to check the accuracy of their rifle telescopes, take several “sighting” shots to ensure that when they come to the real thing they make a clean kill.

We've seen plenty of the real thing and when Inka saw the cut-out version he came to a halt mid-stride with a front paw lifted, staring intently at it. He knows he's not allowed to chase them and he was obviously wondering why this one was acting out of character and not running away.

He ran forward another twenty yards, still confused, and looked back at me for guidance. I let him run up to it and it and when he realised that he'd been fooled he expressed his chagrin in the way that only dogs can do!

I see that someone has erected notices at either end of the Lang Stracht (the long, straight road connecting the Edzell/Fettercairn road with the A90 dual-carriageway) warning drivers that it is a red squirrel area and asking them to drive carefully. It's a thoughtful thing to do and I hope it's working.