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.

Relatively rural

March 19th, 2011

EVENINGS OUT with the Doyenne are always a treat, so when I was asked to give a talk to Clunie WRI and the Doyenne was included in the invitation, we both readily accepted.

I'd not been to Clunie before, but I had a fair idea that if we followed the finger post half way along the A923 Blairgowrie to Dunkeld road we'd be going down the right dreel   This takes you round Clunie Loch to Clunie Hall where the meeting was.

It had been a long time since we'd driven that high road to Dunkeld and we remembered it as a pretty road taking you past Butterstone and the Loch of Lowes   This is now a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve which achieved prominence when one of the earliest pairs of ospreys to breed in Scotland again nested there in 1969.

Butterstone Loch, the Loch of Lowes and Clunie Loch lie in the valley of the Lunan Burn   I discovered from Sir Herbert Maxwell's book on Scottish Land-Names that Clunie is derived from the Gaelic for meadow, and wondered if Lowes might simply mean low places   I had to rake around in some of my other reference books and it seems likely that in this instance it means flames.

In his  Epistle to a Young Friend', Rabbie Burns wrote of  €The sacred lowe o' weel placed love €   There's a community called Lowes shown on the map but just what the name's historic origin is, I can't discover.

I hadn't opened my book on Scottish Land-Names by Sir Herbert Maxwell for a long time   I'd forgotten the hand written inscription on the fly leaf –  €œWith the authors compliments to Mr James Macbeath, 1898 €   The recipient was my Orcadian great-grandfather, and looking into the book again set off a chain of random thoughts.

Both my Orcadian ancestor, who was a Kirkwall ironmonger and wrote a book entitled  €œThe Orkneys in Early Celtic Times €, and Sir Herbert were Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and appear to have shared an enthusiasm for archaeology   They would have become friendly through meetings in the Society's rooms in George Street in Edinburgh, which explains the dedication in the book.

Great-grandfather also wrote a book on  €œScottish Poets and Poetry € which was published, having been effectively commissioned, by DH Edwards of Brechin who, coincidentally, was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and whose firm published a series on the then  €œModern Scottish Poets €   James dedicated his book to DS Whitson, his son-in-law, my grandfather who married James's daughter Jessie Macbeath.

DS was a solicitor in Kirriemuir, and Whitson and Shiress were solicitors in Brechin       I am directly descended from one and collaterally related to the other two and to think that all of this started because I was asked to give a talk to the Rural!

Written on Saturday, March 19th, 2011 at 11:27 pm for Weekly.