“ Structure in the grounds of Dunmore House near Falkirk. „
The sun was shining - unusual for Scotland so we decided to go somewhere and as we are members we were looking through the National Trust book and spotted the Pineapple. We had both seen it on television and in books but although not far from us we had never actually visited.
The book we had said it was north of Airth. Eventually we spotted a road sign off the A905 and turned into a narrow road by a rather dilapidated Lodge house. There was a sign saying drive slowly! We did indeed follow the instructions as we weaved our way trying to miss huge potholes! Eventually we passed a house and saw a sign to the car park, it was nice and shady so kept the car fairly cool. There was a notice board on the high wall about The Pineapple and a box - rather like a bird box saying to "Please take leaflet" - well we would have had there been any to take! Another small box was for donations, members do get free entry but can still donate to help with the running costs. There was a bin and a special one for "Doggy poo bags". There were only 2 cars in the car park including ours, so very quiet.
The Pineapple is in the Dunmore Estate, and is a really unusual building, you get your first glimpse as you go through the gates. There is a longish road with grass each side, a strip had been cut but all around the trees in the orchard it was left wild. We didn't notice any fruit on the trees which we thought rather unusual at this time of year. We walked along to below the house and then walked up where the grass had been cut. The flower borders had some old types of plants including huge teasles, sweet peas, quite over grown in places. Inside the entrance there were some more noticeboards with information. Unfortunately you can't see inside the walled garden.
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) own the property but the building itself is leased to the Landmark Trust charity. Access to the grounds is free and you can stay there too for a holiday, although I would fear for my car driving along the road with it loaded! According to our NTS book it is open everyday from 9.30 - 6.00 or sunset if that is earlier.
A Pineapple may be a strange idea for a building and no one seems to be exactly sure why it was built. John Murray the 4th Earl of Dunmore had travelled abroad and it is thought that Pineapples were a symbol of power, wealth and hospitality. It was built between 1761 and 1766 as a birthday present for his wife Susan, in the form of a pavilion which could be seen from their family home at Dunmore Park and so that they could view the walled garden. It is something that has to be seen to be believed, the Pineapple stands 45feet above the gardens, and the work on the leaves is amazing. It has been carefully restored and I'm so glad we went.
We followed a woodland path where it was so peaceful apart from birds and buzzing of insects, there had been Rhodedendrons which must have been lovely, but I spotted lots of wild raspberries which quenched my thirst as I hadn't taken any water! In places it was quite muddy even after several sunny days, boots or wellies would be needed in wet weather. We found ourselves having to walk through a field to get back to the road, but there was a sign at the end so I didn't feel too bad walking along the track through the field, I was brought up to walk along the edge if you needed to go through a field!
We got back to the car park and then decided to follow another path to get to the pond. Sadly it was very green and the viewing platform we had read about no longer existed, it presumably had been on the posts sticking out of the pond! There was a warning notice not to go on to them as it was dangerous. But it gave us another view of the house and we enjoyed our walk back through the orchard and gardens.
I enjoyed my visit, the garden was not like many formal gardens and although not un-cared for, it wasn't manicured like some places. The woodland path was lovely but suitable for prams or wheelchairs and there were no toilets. The road was in need of some attention, as the pot holes were huge, but it was free (apart from a donation) and it was amazing to think it was built nearly 850 years ago, what brilliant stonemasons they must have had in those times.
Also on Ciao under my name jo145 with several photographs
Inspired by recent feedback, I decided to do a brief review of another object that's distinctly unusual: the Dunmore Pineapple house and grounds. We'd been aware of the existence of this architectural eccentricity for many years but, for some reason, had never actually got round to visiting it - until this spring. Somehow, photographs just don't do this folly justice. You could say it's 'larger than life'!
The Pineapple is an extraordinary structure, built as a summerhouse in the grounds of Dunmore House between Falkirk and Stirling, in central Scotland. Incorporated into a huge walled garden, its neoclassical ground floor morphs into a spectacular, pineapple-shaped dome. You really have to see it 'in the flesh'!
~~Location and access~~
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) owns the property. Access to the grounds is free and you can stay there too. The building is leased to the Landmark Trust charity, who restored it and now make it available to let 'as [a place] to experience for holidays'. You can find out more and book online via the Landmark website - see link below. Prices may not be bargain basement but it seems revenue goes towards upkeep.
The Pineapple is located about a mile north of the Village of Airth, in the Forth Valley. Whether staying or just visiting by car, access is along a short but somewhat bumpy road through the grounds from the main A905 road. It's a very short walk from the small car park.
According to Falkirk Online, opening times are 'All year, daily: 9.30am to sunset'.
~~History and background~~
There is much speculation about the precise motives for building this folly. However, it appears to have been completed for John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, some time between 1761 and 1776 (probably on his return from the New World).
Certainly, pineapples were held in high esteem as exotic fruits and were grown in the integrated hothouses. The summerhouse would have provided impressive views over the walled gardens, grounds and woodlands. The massive 'pineapple' remains a striking symbol of opulence.
For further information, please refer to the websites listed below.
~~Our belated visit~~
We were quite taken with the quirky Dunmore Pineapple and its surroundings. The sight of this remarkable structure exceeded our expectations at close quarters. It is good to see it in such a fine state of restoration and to know the Trusts are taking care of it for posterity. An enduring statement in stone!
We had a very pleasant walk with the dog in the grounds, taking in old walled gardens past rambling rhododendrons (which must be an impressive sight in full flower) and a woodland pond with viewing platform. The slight air of noble dilapidation around the Pineapple quite appealed to us, though this might not be everyone's cup of tea. Bear in mind, too, that our visit was before the start of the main tourist season.
On a clear day, Dunmore's location in this flat reach of the Forth valley provides some great views, from the shiny new Kincardine Bridge to the medieval tower houses visible on the other side, and the Ochil Hills in the distance. If we didn't already live quite so close by, we might be tempted to book a short break here.
* Woodland walks
* Shrubberies, rhododendrons etc.
* Not a huge amount to see and do, apart from the main attraction
* Limited parking
* Kincardine bridges
* Alloa Tower - NTS
* Clackmannan Tower - Historic Scotland
Obviously not on a par with star attractions like Edinburgh and Stirling castles - but quite unique and well worth a quick detour if you happen to be in the area.
[© SteveS001 2011. A version of this original review may appear on other review sites]