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.

Walking with history

March 28th, 2009

THE SCULPTOR William Lamb left to his hometown of Montrose an incomparable legacy of vernacular statuary. Amongst his lifetime's colossal output were also many etchings of local scenes, and some of these are scenes of Montrose Basin looking eastwards to the town. In many, the slim steeple atop the Auld Kirk is an unmistakeable focal point.

Macbeth and I left the car beside the Bridge of Dun and took the path down the south bank of the River South Esk on the last leg of its passage to the Basin and the sea. Our family were teenagers the last time I walked there – so it was a year or two ago now. The day was perfect. The heat of the sun took the edge off the wind which still had a touch of the north in it.

By the time we got round to The Lurgies, the marshy area of rough land at the rivermouth, the familiar shape of the steeple dominated the town's skyline. There was little to see or hear on the way down, but it didn't matter. I was content soaking up the pleasure of returning to old haunts, and the peace of our solitary walk.

We finished at the little pier at Old Montrose where it is said the Old Pretender, the would-be James II & VII, finally gave up his hopes of restoring the Stewarts to the British monarchy. Stepping down the few short steps and into a row boat, he was ferried out to the ship that carried him from Scotland for ever. Thirty years later his son Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, had no better success in trying to change the course of history.

When we turned to walk back upriver to the car I was looking westwards to the long vista of the foothills of the Grampians, and the wide, flat top of the Wirren was ahead of me. House of Dun stood out against its background of tall Wellingtonias. It took me back to when it was a hotel, and some of the convivial times I spent in its lounge bar!

The “hoo, hoo, hoo” calls of Bewick's swans disturbed my thoughts and five of the graceful birds flew into the Basin from somewhere round Forfar direction. I thought the majority of the wintering geese would have left us by now but the air filled with the yelps of the “hounds of heaven” and a large, noisy skein of pinkfoot geese straggled in from the east to land on the water, which was nearly at high tide, and on the fields of the farm of Drum of Dun.

Closer to home, last Sunday as The Doyenne and I walked Macbeth I picked up a newly hatched mallard duck's egg shell dropped well away from the nest to protect the location of the chick from predators.

Written on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 at 7:10 pm for Weekly.