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.


June 27th, 2009

NEW WALKS are interesting not just for humans but for dogs too. Dogs, especially those with active, intelligent, questing natures quickly get bored trailing round the same route day in day out.

I've taken the riverside walk through the Blue Door at the Gannochy Bridge and up the side of the River North Esk to the Rocks of Solitude countless times. I've known for ages that there is another walk downriver across the road from the Blue Door, but it's only recently that I took Macbeth and Inka down it to explore.

The narrow, steep-sided gorge above the bridge widens out into a series of long, slow moving pools below it. The trail veers away from sheer cliffs down to the riverside out of earshot of the sound of the water, and you can whisper your thoughts to the wind in the treetops.

Not far down the path is the ruined tower of what looks to be a folly. Interestingly there is another upriver known as the Doulie Tower. It is thought the Doulie was built around the end of the eighteenth century by Lord Adam Gordon who was head of the British Army in Scotland.

He owned The Burn estate and completed The Burn House in 1791 and, as was the practice of landowners in those days, planted many acres of trees, especially beeches and conifers, as windbreaks and for recreational and amenity purposes. The Doulie, and I suspect this new one I have discovered, would have been lookout towers where he could entertain his family and friends to picnics and survey his rolling woodlands.

It's not a very long walk but it's full of interest. I watched a couple of young squirrels fossicking among the beech mast. It's not their size, or lack of it, that gives them away; they weren't old enough for the tufts on the tips of their ears to have grown in.

I called the dogs into heel and sat down at the base of a sycamore tree to just sup up the pleasure of the moment. When I stood up again a pigeon erupted from a nest about three feet above my head. A pigeon's nest is about the most untidy structure in the bird world and this one was so haphazardly built I thought the two eggs I could see were doomed to fall through to the ground.

Two dead salmon lay on the riverbank, just out of the water. They looked to have been the victims of otters. I've come across otters' paw marks on a little spit of sand above the bridge.

A word of caution – obey the Countryside Code and keep your dog under control. It's a long way for a dog to fall from these cliffs if it gets overexcited and rushes about uncontrollably. And there may be livestock to take into account too.

Written on Saturday, June 27th, 2009 at 6:49 am for Weekly.