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.


November 1st, 2008

HOW DO you go downhill when you are already at the foot of the mountain? Answer – visit Cruachan Power Station at the head of Loch Awe on the A85 from Tyndrum to Oban.

The Doyenne and I were on our way to the west coast for a week's break, accompanied by grandson James, and we thought it would be interesting and instructive for him to see what, I imagine, must be a unique electricity generating station carved out of the heart of Ben Cruachan. Visitors are driven down a 1-kilometre sloping tunnel deep into the bowels of the mountain to where an immense chamber has been excavated, the size of a football pitch and as tall as a 7-storey building.

This is the Machine Hall housing the turbines and generators which are powered by water piped down from a dam, built high above, enclosing a corrie on the side of the mountain. Water is pumped from Loch Awe back up the mountain to replenish the dam, and the whole process is repeated twice daily. It's a staggering concept that could only have been dreamed up by an innovative, inventive Scotsman.

The entrance tunnel takes a bend shortly after you enter it. Apparently this is to prevent terrorists firing rockets down the shaft. I did wonder, however, why it was a petrol-driven bus taking us into the mountain. With all that electricity on tap could they not have used a plug-in electric buggy?

From the start of the holiday the weather did what it can do rather well on the west – it rained. Another first for James was a double rainbow which appeared briefly as we approached the outskirts of Oban. I've seen several before but this one was spectacular because both bows were complete, so there were four crocks of gold to dream about.

One of our expeditions took us into Knapdale and on to the Taynish peninsula, behind Tayvallich. This is a very old part of the country and a marvellous place to walk. Twisted, gnarled trees shelter you from the wind. In the moist climate mosses grow on everything. An ancient oak had ferns, like small brackens, growing out of its moss-covered branches.

We drove round a corner and found an otter casting about in the middle of the road. We looked at each other in surprise, but the otter didn't stop to chat.On the drive back to the cottage I noticed a row of crab apple trees. They seemed out of place alongside a minor Highland road – perhaps planted for their blossom in the spring and apple-cheeked russet in the autumn.

I helpfully offered to pick some of the fruit. The Doyenne gave me one of her sideaways looks which speak volumes, and I realised instantly that her jelly making was finished for the season!

Written on Saturday, November 1st, 2008 at 12:09 am for Weekly.