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.

A bright start

January 5th, 2013

SOMEONE SAID we Scots have more words to describe rain than the Greeks, which is scarcely surprising when you compare that hot, Mediterranean country with Scotland. After recent experience it wouldn’t be surprising if the list of rainy adjectives had grown.

The New Year seemed set on a positive, sunny start and the Doyenne and I made plans to take the dogs out for the day on Wednesday. Imagine our frustration to be greeted that morning by yet another downpour. We decided to go out anyway and by elevenses time the clouds were clearing and there was enough blue sky to make a pair of elephant’s pyjamas.

We headed north out of Fettercairn on the B966 and turned right at Clatterin’ Brig towards Drumtochty Glen and Auchenblae. The road crosses a ford over a burn called the Slack Water. It was anything but slack on Wednesday, flooded with water pouring off the Glen Saugh side of the Cairn o’ Mount.

Drumtochty Forest was a favourite walking destination when the family were young but we hadn’t driven round that way for a while. The Luther Water, which eventually joins the River North Esk just below the Upper Northwaterbridge, winds through the steep-sided, narrow glen. The burn had burst its banks in several places and the roadsides looked pretty washed-out, but it will all come right again in springtime.

From Auchenblae the road to Glenbervie takes you along a high shoulder of hills with long views to the east and the coast that we had forgotten. The sun was shining through retreating clouds and we were pleased we’d got out.

Old kirkyards are a great attraction for me. The headstones are usually a fascinating source of information and names that are familiar historically sometimes turn up in surprising places.

I couldn’t resist the finger post directing us to Glenbervie Kirkyard. Moss-covered walls give an indication of its age. Our national poet Robert Burns’ ancestors farmed in the district and are buried there. A sneaky, chill wind was blowing up the Bervie Water which runs through the glen separating the graveyard and Glenbervie House on the opposite side, and we decided we’d make another visit in the spring.

Around about 1967 I bought a Glenbervie springer spaniel. Mrs Badenoch-Nicolson of Glenbervie was a noted breeder of the dogs and well regarded in the field trials world. Jasper was a memorable dog who exhibited great goodwill to the world at large – except hens. Nonetheless I remember him with affection tempered with frustration at some of his more wayward behaviour.

A short step on then through Drumlithie on our way to the coast, turning right onto the A90 and first left onto the unclassified road with passing places which joins the B967 at Arbuthnott. You are in Sunset Song country now and the Lewis Grassick Gibbon centre is on the left as you leave the village.

We made a welcome lunchtime stop at the Harbour Bar in Gourdon. Proper old fashioned chicken broth with lumps of meat, pearl barley, neep and plenty other vegetables helped warm us up again.

I know I shouldn’t listen to other people’s conversations, but I couldn’t help overhearing at the bar that if you want prize-winning onions you should plant them on the shortest day of the year. I’ll not be featuring in the prize lists!

We arranged to meet a friend and walk with the dogs down to the beach at Kinnaber Moor, outside Montrose, where the effects of the recent heavy weather were evident.

I’ve written before about the war-time dragon’s teeth, part of our WW11 coastal fortifications. Large concrete blocks were built into the sand as anti-tank obstacles to prevent sea-borne invading German tanks driving inland.

The high seas have eroded the dunes, toppling over the last of the dragon’s teeth which for more than seventy years have been a first line of defence on St Cyrus, Montrose and Lunan Bay beaches.

We met two Labrawoodles, the outcome of a union between a Labradoodle (that’s a Labrador/Standard Poodle cross) and an Irish Wheaten Terrier. A bit wild and woolly and nice natured dogs, but I wonder where it all may end.

There was time for a cup of tea and a slice of Christmas cake and then the drive home for dogs’ supper.

Written on Saturday, January 5th, 2013 at 10:15 pm for Weekly.