AS I MADE my way along a track on the Harviestoun estate near Tillicoultry last week, I was reminded of the words of local writer Richard Bernard, who trod these very same steps several decades ago.

In Devon Valley Diary, published in 1985 by Clackmannan District Libraries, he wrote: "Some day you can tramp for many miles with neither hilt nor hair to be seen of wildlife but this wasn't one of them. Creatures large and small seemed stirred into a common activity by the congenial conditions. Twice I saw deer. Once, in the woods, there was the glimpse of a white-scuttled hint-end, and three more, grazing openly in a field, turned inquiring heads towards the sound of me within the trees and were off, unhurriedly, towards the beech-treed glen."

Born in Devonside in 1912, and later moving to Coalsnaughton, he knew the area intimately and was a marvellous writer with a wonderful turn of words.

Recounting more from his Harviestoun walk, he continued: "Hares, rabbits, squirrels, lolloped through the fields, scudded through bracken, spiralled up trees, and by the hilllfoot dyke the biggest stoat I've ever seen for ages gallumped daftly around a fallen stone until, when conscious of the menacing presence of the erect two-legged animal, it shot up a tree with all the speed of a squirrel, but lacking that elfin creature's weightless grace, and stuck a beady-eyed head round the trunk matching me stare for stare, until a flap of my arms had it skelping up into the leafy recesses of the big lime tree."

On my Harviestoun walk, I spotted none of the aforementioned creatures: it was, it would seem, one of those days where there was 'neither hilt nor hair to be seen of wildlife'.

But no matter, for that is the way of things when seeking out nature.

Besides, I had Richard's poetic writings to fall back upon, which so vividly portrayed the wonderful countryside of Clackmannanshire, and as such, I felt truly honoured to be walking in his footsteps.