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.

Monarchs of Scotland

June 18th, 2011

GOING BACK to old holiday places can sometimes be disappointing because everything has moved on while the memories and old photographs have stood still.

The Doyenne and I – and dogs went too – are not long back from a week's break near Scourie, on the west coast of Sutherland   It had been 25 years since we were last there with all the family   We stayed in a cottage at the head of Loch More with fabulous views down the loch   The first couple of days were spent looking up the old haunts – not a lot had changed.

There are some memorable beaches on that north-west tip of Scotland   Some say that Sandwood Bay, now owned by the John Muir Trust, is the most beautiful beach in Scotland, but I reckon nearby Sheigra and Oldshoremore are every bit as stunning, just smaller.

We watched red deer hinds, with their calfies at foot, coming off the hill at dusk to graze round the cottage and go down to the loch to drink     One of the benefits of staying in such a remote spot is that the wildlife absorbs us humans into their lives and doesn't pay us much attention so long as we don't disturb them.

Racegoers of a certain age will remember two famous race horses, Foinaven and Arkle, named after two of the mountains we looked out on every morning   Foinaven, in particular, with great bare ribs of monolithic rock devoid of vegetation, looks like a moonscape   Their smaller neighbour, Ben Stack, rising from the shores of Loch Stack, has that blighted Highland reputation that if its summit is hidden by cloud, it's raining; if you can see the summit, it's going to rain.

A bit of excitement for the Doyenne was being driven in an Argocat, which is an 8-wheel, off-road, all-terrain mechanical mountain goat, up the side of Leac an Ghobhainn to fish one of the mountain lochs   I'm a bit of an old hand at this, but the Doyenne was somewhat unnerved by the apparently unbelievable angles at which the vehicle could be driven without tumbling down the hill.

She had regained her composure for the way back and loved the isolation of the high hills     The air up there has a spicy smell and there's so little pollution that, on a bright sunny afternoon, we could see clearly out to the Atlantic Ocean on the west, and south down past Stac Polly to somewhere nearabouts Ullapool.

Red deer stags, with antlers still in velvet, gazed down disapprovingly on us and when we got too close for comfort cantered off with their distinctive stiff-legged gait   They'll stay together until about September when the annual rut – the roaring, testosterone-charged mating ritual – starts and the stags compete to gather up a harem of hinds to breed with.

Written on Saturday, June 18th, 2011 at 9:47 am for Weekly.