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.

Old bones

October 9th, 2010

THE APPROACH to St Cyrus from the Lower Northwaterbridge passes handsome entrance gates surmounted by stone eagles with outspread wings   They are the Waterloo Gates, built by Lt. General Sir Joseph Straton, a hero of the Battle of Waterloo.

Just before the gates, a narrow, unclassified road takes you down to the seashore and the former salmon bothies at Kirkside   It passes between the policies and the walled garden of Kirkside House where an interesting bit of agricultural history has come to light.

What for years seemed to be an overgrown pond – possibly a water supply for the gardens – was drained and found to have a cobbled floor   Its likely purpose was a bath, and horses would be led into it and scrubbed down   It's uncertain when it was built but a capstone dated 1784, as fresh as the day it was carved, was found during excavation and put in place on the wall.

The General commanded the 2nd British Cavalry or Union Brigade at the historic battle, so one imagines he would have approved of this practical concern for the estate cavalry.

Turn left at the foot of the hill and walk the quarter mile to what I've always known as Beattie's Grave   The dogs and I walk over the dunes to the beach, and Inka loves the freedom when the tide is out and he can race full pelt along the sands.

George Beattie was a Montrose solicitor, a lad o' pairts they would have called him, who overcame a humble background to advance himself   But his ability and success counted for nothing when he courted the daughter of a wealthy local laird   Social convention denied him her hand in marriage and in his distraction he took his life in the old Nether Kirkyard, and a memorial is erected on the spot where it is said his body fell.

Like me, you might wonder if George took that track, which is all it would have been in those days, on his walk to self-destruction   Perhaps the last person to see him alive was the coachman, washing down a horse at the end of a long day's travel.

It's not known whether George and the General met, but no matter, death evens out divisive class distinctions and they lie, not far from one another in their final resting places, forever within the sound of the sea   And a single-storey watchtower guards their mortal remains against grave robbers.

Trees and bushes have grown up around it but, fifty years ago, there used to be a spot where you could draw the car off the narrow road and sit and watch the moon reflecting on the sea in St Cyrus Bay, and see the friendly wink from the lamp of Scurdie Ness lighthouse at Montrose – but that's a story for another time!

And there's more now –
See my new blog – A Breath of Fresh Air from Scotland

Written on Saturday, October 9th, 2010 at 11:34 am for Weekly.