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.

Crossing the cultural divide

November 29th, 2008

“'TIS BETTER to travel hopefully than to arrive” is one of these unattributable sayings attributed to all sorts of people, but when you try to analyse it, it seems to be nonsense. It makes more sense to turn it around and say – “'Tis better to arrive than to travel hopelessly”.

Wednesday morning began as I hoped it would continue because business took me to Blairgowrie. As I drove onto the A90 dual carriageway at Brechin the sun appeared, rising like a great, blazing orange egg yolk. Red sky in the morning could have been the Man with two dogs' warning, but the day's early promise developed into a lovely forenoon – all the more welcome after the slushy retreat of last weekend's snow.

Business transacted I set off home by the scenic route, leaving Blairgowrie by the bridge over the River Ericht which splits the town in two. The road back to Kirriemuir hangs on the west shoulder of Strathmore, the great strath which runs from Stonehaven to Perth. The sun, low in the sky at this time of year, was behind me gladdening up the road ahead.

Across the River Isla at Ruthven – pronounced “Rivven” if you live there – and on through Westmuir and into snug Kirriemuir, notable for gingerbread and Peter Pan and all of JM Barrie's other famous characters. My grandfather was a partner in the legal firm of Wilkie & Dundas and he brought my grandmother to Kirrie as a bride. She came from Orkney and I've sometimes wondered if she felt any clash of cultures in her new home.

With time to spare I turned off the Tannadice road up the Double Dykes (so-called for the sound reason that there is a fine drystane dyke on each side of the road) and headed through Northmuir to Cortachy, crossing the River South Esk by the Prosen Bridge. You can look down on romantic-looking Cortachy Castle which sits in a haugh by the riverside.

Memus, Noranside (so named because the Noran Water flows by it), Fern, Tigerton, over the River North Esk by the Dalhousie Bridge and I was all but home in time for a welcome lunch.

I had no sense of travelling hopelessly and I may have had some ill-defined sense of hope, but the drive home turned out to be one of these spontaneous journeys when everything was right. The sun shone, the countryside sparkled, and the hills kept step with me.

Five bridges I crossed, and each time I was minded of Rabbie Burns' drouthie hero Tam o' Shanter, whose loyal grey mare Meg put in a final sprint to “win the keystone of the brig” and save her drunken master from the clutches of warlocks and witches who, it is well known, dare not cross running water. I showed them a clean pair of heels too!

Written on Saturday, November 29th, 2008 at 9:30 pm for Weekly.