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.

Dragon not as black as he is painted

October 31st, 2009

BLACK SHEEP mostly get a bad press, so the Doyenne and I were surprised to see a whole flock of pure black sheep in a field just outside St Fillans, at the east end of Loch Earn. With dogs, and what seemed like everything bar the kitchen sink in the back of the car (how do people manage to travel light?) we were on our way for a holiday on the west coast.

It wasn't the only thing of interest. I wonder how many drivers notice the rock on the north side of the road – again just before St Fillans – painted like a dragon? I believe it was first painted by Scouts camping nearby who noticed the likeness in the bare rock and for a bit of entertainment painted in the details. It's been like that for years and I wonder if the upkeep is still undertaken by the Scouts?

Our destination was a cottage at Kilmelford, south of Oban, which is in the district of Lorn. Overlooking the entrance to Oban harbour is the ivy-covered stump, all that remains of Dunollie Castle which was the thirteenth century stronghold of the MacDougalls, the Lords of Lorn. Nearby the castle is the clach a coin, or Dog's Stone to which, tradition has it, the warrior hero Fingal used to tether his famous dog Bran. Just why I cannot say, but I expect it was a case of another of those unruly, raiking dogs which can't be let off the lead.

A favourite spot to walk the dogs is the Taynish Nature Reserve which is part of ancient Knapdale Forest. There's a real atmospheric feeling of antiquity about those woods, walking amongst moss-covered trees and seemingly bottomless, black pools – not that it makes any difference to Inka who plunges into them and then shakes himself dry all over us.

On the way back we passed Loch Coille-Bharr where the Forestry Commission has reintroduced beavers into Scotland after 400 years. They may not be not the only, or indeed even the first, people to have done this. Last year I was shown evidence of beavers working on the Dean Water and Kerbet Water which flow into Forfar Loch. I brought home two branches that had been stripped of their bark and had clear marks of beavers' teeth.

There's a beaver trail round Loch Coille-Bharr. You are most likely to see the animals at dusk or dawn but as we visited mid afternoon we saw no sign of them. However I did see a pine marten ambling across the road near Clachan Seil on Seil Island. The last time I saw one was eight years ago at Kinlochewe.

Thinking about those black sheep, I suppose it must be every black sheep's nightmare to wake up and discover there's a white sheep in the family!

Written on Saturday, October 31st, 2009 at 11:31 am for Weekly.