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.

James Stuart’s farewell

November 29th, 2014

THE CARCASE of a pink footed goose lay beside a wild scattering of breast feathers. The breast meat had been consumed and the head had been torn off which made me think it was the work of a fox.

It could have been a pricked bird – shot too far out and injured but able, for a while, to keep up with the pack. Once it had landed it was slow to react when the fox came hunting. It would have been a quick end and preferable to the misery of a lingering death.

Earlier in the week I paid a visit to Dave Pullar at Fishtown of Usan, five miles round the coast from Montrose, for a chat.

David Adams, in his informative Fishing Communities of Angus and the Mearns, wrote that there had been a busy fishertoun at Usan since well before the eighteenth century. In those early days it was white fish, cod and haddock, and herring that the fishermen went out in small boats to catch.

The Pullar family bought the salmon fishings and have operated the salmon station there for some years. Dave has retired from the family salmon fishing enterprise, handing over to sons and grandsons to carry on.

His cottage is the converted salmon bothy and net store and perches right on the edge of the cliff. We sat at his kitchen window, counting the waves as the tide came in over the rocky shore, and talking about village life in the old days.

He showed me an old clay inkwell which had come out of the bank behind his cottage. The cottage on the top of the bank had been built as the village school in the early 1800s, consisting of a single long room with two tiny rooms at one end. This was the teacher’s, or missie as she was known, accommodation and had no water or sanitation.

The school served the social life of the village well. Concerts and weddings were held in it on Saturday nights and on Sundays a preacher from nearby Ferryden brought his congregation back to order with several hours of fire and brimstone sermonising.

I drove home by country roads I hadn’t been on for months, stopping at Old Montrose at the top end of Montrose Basin to walk Inka along the sea wall, past the strangely named Lurgies, an area of marsh and reed beds, and on up the bank of the River South Esk.

It doesn’t look it now but Old Montrose is an historic and romantic spot.

It was from here on 5th February 1716, after the lamentable failure of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising, that James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Pretender, would-be James III of England and James VIII of Scotland, stepped off Scottish soil for ever and was ferried out to the sailing ship that took him to exile in France.

Old Montrose was one of three houses belonging to a historical hero of mine, the Earl of Montrose, who became the celebrated 1st Marquess of Montrose. In what was clearly a love match, for he was only seventeen and she even younger, he married Magdalen Carnegie, daughter of the future Earl of Southesk, who lived at neighbouring Kinnaird Castle.

Inka and I walked as far as the Bridge of Dun, the handsome three-arched bridge completed in 1787. At the time it was the lowest crossing on the river. What a difference it must have made to travellers who would otherwise have had to splash across a ford, provided the water was low enough, or go another five miles up the river to Brechin.

Four pedestrian refuges, as they are called, project out from the parapet of the bridge so that foot travellers could leap to safety from runaway horses and the stagecoach going past full pelt to Dundee.

Then it was home to take Macbeth out for his constitutional. He gets as far as the front door and sniffs the air. Sometimes he needs an encouraging shove to his rear end to get him moving and then it’s a stately progress while he sniffs at every blade of grass. That dog leads a charmed life!

Written on Saturday, November 29th, 2014 at 11:13 pm for Weekly.