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.

The living glen

June 7th, 2008

EARLIER IN the week I bundled the dogs into the car and set off to do a spot of pathfinding (as we call it in this family) up Glen Esk. The question was, should we walk up the east side of the glen, or the west?

The road does not run the whole length of the glen on its east side. Drive out of Edzell towards Fettercairn and before you cross the River North Esk at Gannochy Bridge a minor road on the left takes you past Dalbog Farm and on over the Brig o' Mooran to the now deserted farmhouse at Cornescorn, where the road stops. From there I've walked up to the triangulation point on the top of the Hill of Wirren and looked over into Glen Lethnot.

I chose the main glen road to Tarfside and Invermark. Half way up, past Millden Lodge, I turned left down the track marked Dalhastnie and Keenie, and parked on the other side of the river where the road branches right to Keenie Farm. A cock pheasant watched us, gazing at us in that arrogant way they have. He obviously found the company not to his liking for he marched off with a great ruffling of feathers and dirty looks back over his shoulder.

The track rises away from the river and I looked down on wooded banks. Away behind me I saw first one buzzard, and then a second, hanging high on the thermals somewhere above the Wirren. At one time there was a tremendous population of blue, or mountain hares in all the Angus glens which were a mainstay of the buzzards' diet. The hares' numbers are decimated now but there seemed a fair supply of young rabbits about to satisfy the birds' needs.

A pair of oystercatchers obviously had chicks nearby because we were greeted with an outburst of indignation. They flew round and over us, calling repeatedly and landing on rocks to scold us – anything to divert the dogs' attention from where the chicks were crouching out of sight.

A pair of lapwings (peewits or peesweeps) put on another dazzling distraction display to keep us away from their young – tumbling and rolling in front of us and crying all the while with their wild, lisping call. Fifty years ago my father would take an egg or two out of a nest and hard boil them to eat. Conservation issues aside, he'd be hard pressed to find enough nests to make it worthwhile now.

Several curlews cruised overhead. It was almost too early for their eggs to have hatched so they were probably male birds keeping sentry over their nesting mates. Across the river, in the woods, a cuckoo sounded off. You used to hear larks and grasshoppers in Glen Esk – but I can hardly remember when I last heard one.