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.

O’er the Border

January 8th, 2011

I'VE DISCOVERED that Hogmanay in Cumbria (it used to be Westmoreland) is much like the real thing we celebrate in Scotland   The Doyenne persuaded me across the Border to see out the old and bring in the New Year and as it meant I could drink my brother-in-law's whisky it seemed an admirable idea!

We were staying in the Lake District, which shares many features with Scotland   It has England's highest mountains and deepest lakes, miles of desolation but with tough Herdwick sheep instead of our hardy Blackfaced breed, and I find much of it reminiscent of the Highlands.

We weren't allowed to sit idly around and were entertained to  days out here and there'   The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a narrow gauge railway which runs from Ravenglass on the coast through two well-wooded valleys (no glens there) to Dalegarth   Known locally as  €œLa'al (Little) Ratty €, the line was opened in 1875 to transport iron ore and quarried stone.

The miners and quarrymen used it to get to and from their work   There was a coorse, biting wind coming off the tops of the mountains last Saturday and it must have been a long seven mile journey for the men coming off their shifts in winter-time, sitting on open wagons, tired and exposed to the mercy of the elements.

We were pulled by a steam locomotive called Northern Rock and the clicketty-clack sound of the wheels over the joints in the rails took me back to the steam train travel of my childhood   It's more than a big toy for big laddies – which it is if you're a railway enthusiast – it's a historic, working part of the district's industrial heritage.

The Doyenne and I are collectors of old churches and our walk took us past St Catherine's church which serves the community at Dalegarth   Dating back to the 12th century it sits isolated, but not lonely, in a field below the village beside another River Esk   Parson's Plod is the name of the track the vicar takes from the vicarage to his church.

They call it the Lake District but there's only one lake – Bassenthwaite   The rest are meres like Windermere, or tarns or waters   We walked alongside Coniston Water which was mirror flat, much like I imagine it must have been on 4th January 1967 when Donald Campbell lost his life in his speedboat Bluebird attempting to break his own world water speed record.

The waters were Campbell's grave until 2001 when the wreckage of Bluebird, and latterly his body, were located and recovered   If he could have said, might he have preferred to remain where he lay?

They say fish and visitors go off after three days so we made sure we didn't overstay our welcome

Written on Saturday, January 8th, 2011 at 10:47 am for Weekly.