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.

Road to freedom

June 1st, 2013

THE GREAT North Road, linking Perth and Inverness, first laid its spell on me three score years and more ago. For seven years it was the road that led to the freedom of never forgotten, Highland summer holidays.

With our caravan in tow Father drove from Montrose to Leckmelm Estate on Loch Broom, three miles below Ullapool. For a whole month the caravan was parked near the head of the loch, alongside the pier that had served the estate in Victorian and Edwardian times.

The view down the loch was magical. Was! – still is, always will be. Out to the Summer Isles – Tanera Mhor, Tanera Beag, Horse Island with a herd of goats, and others.

The Great North Road went through every town and village – the journey took two days then. An anxious moment was getting over high Drumochter Pass without the radiator boiling. The Highland railway runs alongside the road and Drumochter summit is the highest railway pass in the UK.

Now it’s referred to, prosaically, just as the A9, but whether driving north or coming south it’s still a memorable car journey. The peaks of the Grampians on the east and the Monadhliath Mountains striding westwards – it’s stunning wherever you look.

We – the Doyenne and I and dogs too, of course – headed off up the A9 last weekend, turning off at Dalwhinnie onto the A86 to join son Robert and his family at Ardverikie on Loch Laggan, where he is estate factor.

Ardverikie has entered the national consciousness as the estate where the Monarch of the Glen TV series was filmed.

It was a pretty full-on weekend starting with a quad-bike trek round some of the old film sets. It was a first time for quad bikes for me but you can’t let the grandchildren think they are about to get the upper hand!

Later we drove to Lochan na h-Earba on the eastern boundary of the estate for an afternoon’s fishing. Nothing beats a sweet brown trout from a Highland loch fried in butter for breakfast. Glowering over us was the Ardverikie Wall on Binnean Shuas, which will mean everything to experienced rock climbers but meant little to lower slope scramblers like the Doyenne and me.

Countryside access and trail bikes have reinvented the traditional idea of a day in the country. We were in the middle of nowhere but it might have been Montrose High Street on a sunny afternoon. I exaggerate of course, but we likely saw a dozen campers, bikers and walkers which is probably eleven more than we would have seen twenty years ago.

Corrour Station, on Rannoch Moor, is the UK’s highest and most remote railway station, not accessible by any public roads. You can normally get there only on foot, by bike or by train. You’d expect to find only die-hard walkers in such a lonely place, but I’ll bet it’s one of the busiest small stations on the Glasgow-Mallaig line.

Lizzie Mackenzie and Ollie Bennett, both 23, had worked in hospitality and decided, if they had to work hard, they preferred working long hours for themselves.

Last August they opened Corrour Station House Restaurant in the converted old station buildings. If you have vision and energy and belief in your ability, as they do, you can pull off any apparently wild idea, as they most decidedly have done.

Family Sunday lunch at Corrour was a real treat. Ollie sources trout and pike, and hare and rabbit off neighbouring estates, straight on to the plate. My venison was off Corrour. He and Lizzie forage for mushrooms.

Corrour is THE foodie destination. Dinner is served from 6.30pm to 9.30pm to coincide with the train timetable, especially from Fort William and Glasgow. Lunch or dinner – you’re advised to book in advance. 80 people got off the train recently expecting to get a meal; that’s when Ollie really had to be creative!

With nine Munros on the doorstep they’ve also got three individual en-suite letting rooms for climbers.

And I can’t forget Archie, the other man in Lizzie’s life. A couthy wire-haired German pointer, just right for his front-of-house role.

I watched him, a free soul, running like the wind across the trackless Highland landscape.

Written on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 at 6:07 am for Weekly.