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 leisurely amble

August 24th, 2013

THE SPINE of hills running from the Lower Northwaterbridge (which crosses the River North Esk a mile upriver from the rivermouth) to Stonehaven separates the plain of the Mearns from the coastal plain. A tracery of roads, some of them old drove roads, criss-crosses the hills.

Tuesday seemed a promising day so I bundled the dogs into the car and set out. Turning off the A90 onto the B9120 Garvock Hill road I stopped briefly at the viewpoint on the summit where my father used to read me Violet Jacob poetry. Conditions were hazy but the views are all familiar from long ago so I pressed on.

I turned east past the Tullo Wind Farm, a paradoxical title as they don’t sow wind seeds and it’s not wind they harvest.

I drove as the mood took me and found myself on an unclassified narrow road with passing places marked with the diamond lozenges on poles you normally associate with Highland roads. It must be bleak in winter but right now the barley is ripe golden yellow and looks ready for combining, so the farmers are going to be very busy shortly.

Because it’s higher than my usual foraging spots the wild raspberries along the roadsides are still at their best for picking – useful to know for future seasons. And the signs are good for a great harvest of rowans for the Doyenne’s rowan and apple jelly.

I haven’t been on such quiet roads for a while and I’d rather lost my bearings until I came to a bridge over the Bervie Water that was familiar. Another mile and I joined the Arbuthnott road (B967) at Townhead.

Turn right for the Grassic Gibbon Centre which commemorates the life and work of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, probably the north-east’s most celebrated twentieth century writer. Time for a welcome cup of coffee and a shortie in the spotless café.

It’s worth making the detour down the hill to nearby thirteenth century St Ternan’s Kirk where Grassic Gibbon, real name James Leslie Mitchell, is buried. Few pre-Reformation churches are still in use for regular worship and this peaceful building has survived the centuries in remarkably good condition.

I headed for Inverbervie and the coast. I had plans for where I was going next but for old times’ sake I turned down into Gourdon and Johnshaven to indulge my favourite occupation of looking at boats in harbours.

My destination was Milton of Mathers where I wanted to walk the dogs, but first we had to cross Denfinella Bridge. I wrote about the Lady Finella in March. She had been complicit in the murder of King Kenneth II, and I told you that she escaped to the coast and was murdered herself in the Den of Finella which runs from the main road down to the sea.

I’ve done some homework since then. Just below the road bridge is a seventy foot waterfall. It seems the real story is that when the dead king’s supporters caught up with her, in order to avoid capture and dishonour, she “leapt from the rocks to a wild boiling pool where her body was torn and tossed.” So there you are – you takes your choice.

Milton of Mathers, or more properly Mathers, isn’t where it should be. The original community was built 150 yards out from the present shore where it was protected from the sea by a projecting ledge of limestone rock. This was quarried for lime so extensively that, one stormy night in1795, thunderous seas broke through and carried away the village.

The sun shone, the tide was full and there was just the murmur of gently breaking waves. The dogs and I had a leisurely amble along the shingle beach to the one-time fishing community of Tangleha’.

Oyster catchers and whaups (curlews) lifted off ahead of us protesting at the disturbance. In spring they fly inland to nest but their breeding season has finished and this will be the start of them returning to the coast for winter.

I watched goldfinches feeding on the dried seed heads of cow parsley and warblers hunting for insects amongst the field margin weeds. For a while I’d escaped the tyranny of the telephone – all in all a thoroughly satisfactory morning.

Written on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 at 9:42 am for Weekly.