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.

Ancestral ties

November 21st, 2009

GUTHRIE VILLAGE sits discreetly between the A934 Montrose-Forfar and A932 Friockheim-Forfar roads. Several weeks ago, visiting the village to give a talk to the ladies of the church Friendly Circle, I turned left shortly after Pickerton Farm (on the A934) onto the minor road which rises up to the appropriately named Hilton Farm, and then descends into the village.

I've been over that wee road in the past but had forgotten what fantastic views there are from the Hilton steading. Last Wednesday there was a window of sunshine in the weather so I bundled the dogs into the car and went back to have a proper look. We walked up behind the farm to the summit of the hill where the views are even more stunning. The hill sprouts up from the flat plain between Montrose and Forfar and is the ideal view point.

Eastwards the sun glinted on the high tide in Montrose Basin and the sea in Montrose Bay. I turned the binoculars up the coast and picked out Johnston Tower sitting on the summit of Garvock Hill, overlooking Laurencekirk. Westwards I was in home territory, looking at familiar Hill of Wirren which guards the entrance to Glenesk. Then panned further west to the break in the foothills and the gateway to Glens Clova and Prosen.

Rescobie Loch lies to the south and the view carries the eye away over Forfar and on to Blairgowrie. There was a bit of a breeze but there was heat in the sun and it was a real pleasure to be out. There can't be many spots in the county where you get such a comprehensive 360 degree panorama of the glories of Angus.

I took the opportunity to return to the kirk yard at Guthrie church. The minister, Rev. Brian Ramsay, had shown me a stone in the top corner of the graveyard – “Sacred to the memory of Rev'd James Whitson died 1st January 1840 in the 47th year of his age and 9th of his ministry.” The inscription continues with a poignant message all too common in those days of high infant mortality – “Also to that of his two sons John and David who predeceased their Father having died in infancy.” It's an ancient and historic ecclesiastical site. Beside the church is the Guthrie Aisle which is all that remains of the original church built in 1150 and dedicated to St Mary. The final resting place of bygone Guthries who gave their name to the village, it has a marvellous vaulted wooden ceiling.

The new (1826!) church has an unadorned, welcoming peacefulness which rural churches sometimes achieve so well. There's a notice inside the front door –  This church is always open. Visitors welcome.' It's worth taking up the invitation.

Bidding the old ancestor farewell, I gave his headstone a familial pat.

Written on Saturday, November 21st, 2009 at 1:48 pm for Weekly.