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.

Holidays in Scotland

June 28th, 2008

THE SPIRITUAL homeland of West Highland terriers must surely be the west Highlands so we hoped that our holiday in Ardnamurchan would be as west Highlandy for Macbeth as it was possible to be.

We've just returned from a self-catering fortnight in the village of Kilchoan about six miles from the famed Ardnamurchan lighthouse, most westerly point on the mainland of Scotland. Kilchoan holds dramatic memories from the past. We stayed there, first, some thirty five years ago. I took our daughter Cait, then aged four, to fish for poddlies off the Mingarry pier. When my attention wandered Cait's did too, and I was brought sharply back to reality when she fell into the sea. The Doyenne was pretty tight-lipped about the whole event when we got back. We did go fishing again, but the children were firmly roped to the pier thereafter.

The Ardnamurchan peninsula is a truly unspoilt part of Scotland – indeed it would be a pretty difficult task to spoil what is essentially one of our west coast wilderness areas. Geologically it is very old, and agriculturally it is not suited to much more than deer and sheep. Near the shore are grass pastures which are separated from the sea by typical west coast machair. Described as “the land of the smiling, coloured flowers”, the machair holds a great diversity of plant and birdlife.

Sea pinks, clover, marsh marigolds, ragged robin, vetches, purple orchids, stonecrops, blue and white foxgloves, and yellow flags which always take me straight back to childhood holidays at Ullapool. And that's only touching on the paint box of colour. Walking on Sanna beach, which I consider to be second only to Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, we saw dunlins and ringed plovers and were serenaded by skylarks.

At the Glenmore interpretative centre we watched fledged heron chicks nearly ready to leave the nest. One memorable morning, out with the dogs, I spent an hour watching an otter swimming in the sea below ruined Mingarry Castle. In the background two cuckoos were calling. At night little pipistrelle bats hunted amongst the trees helping to keep the midge population down.

A regular car ferry operates between Mingarry and Tobermory. We spent a delightful day on Mull visiting the gardens at Torosay Castle. A community butcher's shop has been set up in Tobermory, run by and for the community. It means that farmers can avoid sending their beasts by ferry to the mainland for slaughter, consequently receiving a better profit for their endeavours. We took back with us a delicious leg of Mull lamb.

It's a land of dwindling crofting communities amongst the dramatic hills and mountains. Every morning we woke to the sight of the sun on Beinn Talaidh (Talla), rising away to the south on Mull – except of course when it was obscured by traditional west coast drizzle!

  

Came home to a wonderful online review from a reader who has bought the “Man with two dogs” book, who says   “It really is a lovely gem to own, especially if you have a soft spot for Scotland.”   To read the whole review,  scroll down to foot of page to click on link  –

  http://www.bookpleasures.com/Lore2/idx/0/3675/article/Man_With_Two_Dogs_A_Breath_of_Fresh_Air_from_Scotland?html