Walk of the week: The Pineapple near Falkirk

THE Pineapple is one of Scotland’s best known follies. It was built in 1761 for John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore, as a garden retreat and now attracts visitors year round.

The Pineapple, Airth near Falkirk. Picture: Nick Drainey
The Pineapple, Airth near Falkirk. Picture: Nick Drainey

The rhododendrons which you would expect to find on a rambling old estate will soon be in bloom, providing a great backdrop for much of the walk. Equally enjoyable are the views across the Forth to the Ochil Hills. This is a great spring walk for all the family – pack a picnic and take time to enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

DISTANCE 3 miles.

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TIME 1∫ to 2 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 65.

PARK Go north along the A905 out of the village of Airth and after about half a mile turn left on to the B9124, signed to the Pineapple. Go right after about 50 yards, at East Lodge, and follow the track across fields before turning left to reach a car park by a walled garden.

IN SUMMARY From the car park go through the large gate on the right, into the walled garden containing the Pineapple. Follow the track for a few yards and then cut off to the right, across the grass, to the base of the 45ft-high structure.

Go left from here and follow the wall to a small door on the right. Once through this follow a path to the left, through rhododendron bushes.

The path eventually reaches a track, where you go right. Follow this through mainly pine woodland, passing a large wooden hut and ignoring paths and tracks off to either side.

On reaching the ruins of a stable block go right and follow the track round it. Ignore a track on the right and go all the way around the old stables before going right, down a track with the ruins of the stately home of Dunmore Park to your right.

Follow the track down to a junction, where you go right – on to another track. Go straight on at the next junction, following a sign to the Pineapple. The ruins of the 16th century Elphinstone Tower can be seen next to the track on the right after about 250 yards. It was built for the laird of Dunmore, Sir John Elephantine, and was used as a family mausoleum by the Murrays until the 19th century. Ignore another track on the right (by a field) and continue until the track you have been following reaches a path. This bears right and goes uphill to a high stone wall. Go right here and walk up to a signpost, where you go left to pass through a gate in the wall. A grass path then leads down to the car park.

REFRESH There are a couple of pubs in Airth but the upmarket Airth Castle Hotel is a popular place to head.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The Falkirk Wheel connects the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal via a fantastic piece of engineering – the world’s only rotating boat lift. Boat trips are run from the visitor centre and there is a café (www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk). Or, just down the Forth and Clyde Canal are the Kelpies, the 100ft-high Andy Scott sculptures (www.thehelix.co.uk).