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.


July 26th, 2008

SPUR OF the moment decisions are often the best ones. Last Sunday seemed to herald in summer properly, at last, so the Doyenne and I bundled the dogs into the car and set off to find new places to walk.

We took the road from Edzell to Fern and Noranside, and eventually to Kirriemuir. If you remember, it was a sunny day and a brisk, warm wind kept the clouds scurrying high across the sky. The countryside sparkled and the views were perfect in every direction.

I was all for driving past the Caterthuns, but the Doyenne suggested the roadie just after Tigerton (pronounced  Tigger-ton' as in AA Milne's “Winnie the Pooh” stories) which cuts into the hills at Kirkton of Menmuir. I've passed that road-end dozens of times but it had been ages since I'd driven over it. There's nothing special about it, just fields on each side. But as you crest the brae look a wee bit to the right and you see the gateway to Glen Esk. A wee bit to the left and you're looking at the back hills of Glen Lethnot.

We chose Lethnot. At the end of the road, at Waterhead, a track carries on up the Water of Saughs to the head of the glen. In all the times I've walked in Lethnot I'd never gone up that track, but that's been remedied now.

I so enjoyed that visit that, on Tuesday, I chucked the dogs into the back of the car again, took my lunch piece and drove off once more to Lethnot. In the past I've maybe not given it the credit it is due, but these two days I saw the glen looking its very best.

I stopped in the heart of the glen and sat with the dogs beside the West Water – as the river had now become. The sky was right, the clouds were right and great purple patches of bell heather glowed on the hillsides. The sun beat down like it was the real tabasco, and Macbeth got so hot I thought he might blow a gasket!

We looked down on a brown, peaty pool. At the head of it the stream was broken by two rocks round which the water flowed before tumbling in a three-pronged cascade of white water, for all the world just like a grouse's claw. Fingerling sized trouts poppled the surface as they rose to feed on bugs and beasties blown off a silver birch on the opposite bank.

I wonder how many folk notice the grouse butt tucked into the side of the road as they drive home down the glen. It obviously hasn't been used for ages (you can't discharge a shotgun now so close to a public highway), but it's a wee work of art of the gamekeepers' drystane dyking skills.

Written on Saturday, July 26th, 2008 at 7:23 am for Weekly.