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.

Sing no sad songs

February 26th, 2011

IT'S SURPRISING how far some birds' calls travel   Out with the dogs for the morning walk, while it was still and clear, I heard our resident mistle thrush singing his heart out and setting the world to rights.

We were on the homeward track when I heard his – or perhaps it was her – exultant, ringing tones which are more spirited and forceful than his smaller cousin, the song thrush   It was too far away to see him at first but as we got closer I picked him out in his usual spot amongst the topmost branches of the tall beech trees at the back of the Big Hoose.

I was intrigued by the distance the sound carried and took the car down the side drive to check on the trip meter   Even from one third of a mile away, when I first heard him, the clarity of his song was remarkable.

I got a phone call asking if I could shed some light on the ruined tower which sits amongst trees on high ground above the Rocks of Solitude, which is the impressive gorge near the foot of Glen Esk carved, over millennia, out of the rocks by the turbulent waters of the River North Esk. Historically, there would have been no trees restricting the views when the tower was originally built.

Lord Adam Gordon, 4th son of the 2nd Duke of Gordon, and a professional soldier, bought The Burn estate in 1780   Described at the time as  €¦  €œin the wildest state of barrenness €, he began an extensive programme of improvements to his property  €œin order to hide deformities and create agreeable prospects €.

The Doulie Tower is thought to be a folly built by Lord Adam for shelter from severe weather and where he could entertain friends at picnics and show off the  agreeable prospects' he had created   I have a picture in my mind of the old soldier climbing to the top of the tower and, surveying all before him, murmuring to himself –  €œEverything I can see is mine €   Nothing like being proprietorial, especially when you've just hidden a few deformities!

You can see photos of it by going into www.derelictplaces.co.uk and typing Doulie Tower Edzell in the search box.

Earlier in the week I paid my last respects to Arthur Grewar who was a knowledgeable countryman who enjoyed sharing his love of the countryside and wildlife with others.

He spent a lifetime working on the land and learned his field craft first hand through practical observation and awareness   He would phone up from time to time –  €œIt's Arthur again € was his invariable greeting – to give me news about the latest things he had seen and heard   I was always confident writing about his stories because I knew they were based on hands-on experience and sympathetic appreciation of what he saw and heard.

Written on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 at 11:14 am for Weekly.