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.

Antidote to life in the fast lane

May 27th, 2017

DSC04332TOO OFTEN, it seems to me, we are in too much of a hurry. We tell ourselves we must be at another place sooner rather than later when, in reality, if we gave the matter a little consideration – we don’t.

I’d had an appointment in Forfar and I could have raced home along the A90 in time for a bowl of the Doyenne’s home-made lentil soup, which I should have enjoyed. But I gave the matter a little consideration and bought a filled roll and a bottle of fizzy, sugar-soaked drink which doctors encourage their more generously proportioned patients – like me – to avoid.

I headed out of Forfar on the A926, past the Golf Driving Range, and took the road left to Memus which crosses the dual carriageway. Prominent on the skyline the Airlie Monument, built in memory of the 9th Earl of Airlie who was killed at the Battle of Diamond Hill in 1900, in the 2nd Boer War, guards the entrance to Glen Clova. The sun was on the hills and I knew I had made the right decision.

At Memus I turned right at the church, heading for Glenogil and Auchnacree.

Milton of Glenogil, at the foot of Glenogil, is home of the Mountains Sanctuary for horses, ponies and donkeys. Donkeys aren’t only grey; they come in black and piebald too as you’ll see in today’s picture. They were very friendly and trotted over to the roadside for a chat and a tickle behind the ears.

The Sanctuary was established by the late Alan Fraser in memory of his mother. It takes in animals that have been ill-treated or neglected and gives them a home to live out the rest of their lives in the peace and tranquillity of the Angus countryside.

Secret glen
Each of the Angus glens offers its own special attraction and Glenogil is an intimate glen, secretive almost. The road runs through well-wooded areas and the fields to the west rise to meet the foothills of the Grampian Mountains.

The lochan by the roadside is getting overgrown with weed but I hoped I might see ducks with ducklings. There was just a pair of suspicious tufted duck which paddled off as soon as I stopped the car. A welcome sighting was a kestrel which fluttered about the roadside and landed briefly in a tree.

Hawthorn blossom was frothing all over the bushes and the rowan blossom looked good. In a garden hedge a patch of early honeysuckle was in full bloom. A cock pheasant atop a high wall, bronze plumage glowing in the sun, fixed me with a bold look as I drove past.

Past Auchnacree House the countryside opens up and the road drops down to Afflochie Farm which I always think has such a mellow, soothing sound to it. I stopped to eat my roll and drink my fizzy drink and listened to peewits and oystercatchers. Swallows hawked for insects amongst the sheep and their lambs. A meadow pipit landed on a fencing post and watched me for a moment before deciding it had better things to do with its life and flew off with its distinctive bobbing flight.

The main Angus glens are all familiar but smaller Glen Moy and Glenquiech and, smallest of all, Glen Trusta are less well known. The entrance to Trusta is at Afflochie. It’s been some years since I walked up there but there were things waiting for me at home and I had Inka to walk, so I pressed on.

Clear views
We found an open hillside with no sheep where Inka could stretch his legs and enjoy himself. There’s a grand view across Strathmore to the ridge of hills linking Forfar and Brechin. To avoid the motorway traffic I often take the road past the Aberlemno Pictish sculptured stones which runs along the shoulder of those hills.

Ogil runs out at Shandford Farm where I turned left towards Edzell. Then it was left fork at the War Memorial at Tigerton (pronounced Tiggerton, as in The House at Pooh Corner). Down in the howe is Balnamoon House, better known locally as Bonnymune, historic home of James Carnegy, the Rebel Laird, who I wrote about a month ago.

To the west the land rises sharply to the White Caterthun and Brown Caterthun, iron-age Pictish vitrified forts occupying neighbouring hilltops. Opinions are divided on whether they were built for defensive or ritual purposes but being so well sited with tremendous fields of vision there seems a good case for thinking they were militarily important.

Blue painted wee Scotchmen without wheelbarrows or JCBs and, at best, just rudimentary picks and shovels built these impressive hill forts effectively with brawn and muscle power. Several acres in size, they are extraordinary feats of human endeavour. Their builders must have understood more than just basic engineering skills and have had well developed concepts of strategic planning.

I stopped in Edzell for a well-earned ice cream. I hadn’t raced home, I’d enjoyed a couple of hours of slow living and I’d had a thoroughly eventful morning.

Written on Saturday, May 27th, 2017 at 8:40 pm for Weekly.